Just as you prepared for a promotion or strategized to complete a project in your working years, you need to plan for retirement. Though the financial side of that plan is crucial, there’s a personal side that also needs attention. Relationships with family and friends can give you a retirement support system as you face the changes that come with leaving the workforce. Here are some tips to strengthen your retirement support system.

Talk to your spouse or partner

Start retirement conversations early. Talk about goals, how you'll spend your time, where you'll live, and how much money you’ll need. Talk about how to best use your retirement savings to cover anticipated expenses. You and your spouse may look at your retirement years differently and not even know it. You should also discuss what each of you wants in retirement and how to balance individual needs with couple and family time.

Cultivate friendships (old and new)

Social interactions contribute to a healthy life, and when work ends, many retirees feel isolated. If that is a fear, consider using retirement and the time leading up to it to make new connections and revitalize old ones. Volunteer, join new clubs or groups, take a class, or make travel plans.

Besides improving your mood, socializing can keep you mentally sharp. A study at Rush University Medical Center compared elderly people engaging in high levels of social activity — going to parties and church, visiting friends — to their less socially active counterparts. After five years, the socially active retirees retained more cognitive abilities, including sharper memories and better understanding of spatial relationships.

Strengthen family ties

Family relationships can be an important source of support for retirees. If those relationships need work, reach out and strengthen bonds with immediate or extended family members. Consider starting new traditions that bring family members together regularly. An annual beach trip or Sunday family dinners can provide great opportunities to connect.

If you plan to move closer to adult children or grandchildren in retirement, discuss the idea with them first. To make the transition a smooth one, set parameters based on mutual agreements. Remember that you will still want to pursue your own interests and make new friends, so be certain that your new location will suit those needs.

If you establish — and maintain — positive connections with a strong network of family and friends, you’ll have a support system that you can call on throughout your retirement.

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