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Category: Life Events / Topics: Advice, Guidance & Mentoring Attitudes Optimal Aging Planning Retirement Social Issues


by Rchard and Leona Bergstrom /ReIgnite

Posted: November 18, 2022

The Rolling Stones song, 'You Can't Always Get What You Want,' seems like an essential qualifier to the title, 'What Retirees Want.' An excerpt from the soon-to-be-released book: EMERGING

An excerpt from the soon-to-be-released book: EMERGING

In July 2020, Dr. Ken Dychtwald and Robert Morrison published their book, What Retirees Want: A Holistic View of Life’s Third-Third. The summary states, “In past decades…retirement was often viewed as a time of gradual decline and financial contraction. But thanks to increased life spans and better healthcare, today’s retirees, particularly Baby Boomers–are experiencing a distinct and rewarding phase of life, ready to explore new activities, new meanings, and new opportunities.” 

Ironically, Dychtwald released the book to the publisher in mid-January 2020, just as the novella coronavirus was gaining a foothold in the United States. A note in the introduction acknowledged, "Everything about our lives is disrupted in the short-term, and perhaps the long-term as well.” 

The Rolling Stones song, "You Can't Always Get What You Want," seems like an essential qualifier to the title, "What Retirees Want." The sad truth is that we are "not getting what we want" from this stage of our lives. Whether planning a next travel adventure, volunteering for your favorite non-profit, attending a major league baseball game, or enjoying a night out for dinner and the theatre, COVID robbed us of life's simple pleasures. It's a disillusioning time. 

Notably, a second line in the song states, "but if you try sometimes, you might just find, you get what you need." The song, written in 1969, paints a contrasting view between what we desire and need. The underlying tone is somewhat optimistic. We may have thought we needed all those things on our want list, but we've also found that we can live without them.

What are our needs during these uncertain times? Following his book's publication, Ken Dychtwald, and his company, Age Wave, partnered with Edward Jones Financial and The Harris Poll to conduct a nationwide survey to pinpoint the needs of today’s retirees. The resulting report, entitled “Four Pillars of the New Retirement,” identified the primary needs of today’s retirees. They are health, family, purpose, and finances. Recognizing and focusing on these four pillars may be the key to adjusting to retired life in today’s “new normal.”

  • Health:  Good health is foundational to all other aspects of retirement.
  • Family: "Retirees consistently say family is their greatest source of satisfaction, support, joy, and even purpose."
  • Purpose:"Retirees with a strong sense of purpose," the report says, "are happier, healthier, more active, and socially engaged, and they live longer."
  • Finances: “For retirees, money isn’t an end in itself, but an essential means to the end of achieving well-being in retirement.”

During the summer of 2022, we asked people to take an online survey that asked them which area of their life was most affected by the pandemic. We used the four categories above: health, family, purpose, and finances. You'll find many of their stories at the end of each chapter in our forthcoming book, EMERGING, set to be released late November of this year.

Our survey results, though limited in scope, reveal how the pandemic deeply impacted the lives of our responders in each of the four areas.

In January 2020, when Ken Dychtwald published his book What Retirees Want, many thought they knew what they wanted in the coming years. COVID upended all of that. But as they have begun to emerge from this pandemic, each seeks to find their way back to a more normal life.
To repeat the mantra of the Rolling Stones song, "You can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you might just find, you'll get what you need."

-Excerpt from Chapter 1, Emerging, by Richard and Leona Bergstrom 2022
Quotes from What Retirees Want, Ken Dychtwald, Ph.D., 2020
©Re-Ignite 2022

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Richard Bergstrom is president of ChurchHealthRe-Ignite in Edmonds, Washington

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Posted: November 18, 2022

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