My brother just retired from Cherry Hill, New Jersey, to Venice, Florida. "I used to be a doctor," he now says, and then turns to one of three books he will read in a week.

I just returned from visiting him and his new home of five months. He and his wife did a wonderful job in finding the house of their dreams and then furnishing it in the style that they wanted. He emphasizes that he doesn't ever want to work again and wants to spend his time reading, washing his cars, relaxing, exercising, and enjoying life.

Now, before anyone sniggers, I know a number of people (admittedly much younger) who would like nothing more than just to stop the daily grind, to not have to dread Sunday nights, and who wouldn't mind it at all to spend the days watching Oprah or The Guiding Light and eating bon bons. So, what could be wrong about that, eh?

Well, perhaps plenty to another side. While in Florida, I visited a number of my friends who either live there all year round or who are snowbirds, staying six months in Florida and six months in the North (New York City and Philadelphia), and who are fully retired. And there were a few snowflakes who still work full time and can only spend a week or two on vacation in the Sunshine State.

Looking solely at the people who have already packed it in (and there were 14 of them), three quarters said that they had made a mistake and retired too early, and would give anything to continue working. Now, understand these are not people who need the money or who would relish long commutes. Why then the desire to continue working?

One woman told me that she once had a pretty good job in the school system as an administrator and enjoyed the give and take at various meetings. "It was intellectual stimulation." I asked her if she couldn't find her own intellectual stimulation by reading, listening or watching the news, and interacting with others around the pool. "Are you kidding?" she said. "What are they talking about at the pool, where to have dinner that night, which early bird to go to? I tried to talk to one man about the situation with Hamas, and he thought I was referring to the food that you dip pita bread into."

This seemed to be the thread with whomever I spoke. Some expressed dismay that they may have retired too soon; others were trying to get part-time jobs. The idea of keeping the mind stimulated seems to be the paramount thing for these people.

My mother, with whom I was especially close, died a few years ago having suffered 10 years of the debilitating Alzheimer's. She had been a strong, vibrant woman who could argue with the best of them. Bill Buckley or Gore Vidal would have had their hands full but the disease had taken that all away from her and speaking personally, that is my worst fear. Genetics, as you know, count a heckuva lot today and my own medical people (including my own financial planner, God bless him) all advocate keeping that mind going. In fact, I have read studies recently that although scientists do not yet fully understand what causes Alzheimer's, evidence shows that mental activity may be a protective factor against the disease.

Interestingly enough, I find that more and more financial planners are looking closely at their clients' working schedules and are telling them to think very carefully before cashing in their chips.

And companies are no fools, either. They know that a quick-minded, intelligent, oldster can save them more in the long run because of their expertise. In fact, HR people at Fortune 500 companies specifically look twice at any applicant that has previously retired or is close to retirement because if their energy level and knowledge were there, then they would love to have that experience working for them. One high-ranking vice president of human resources said to me, "You can always depend on experience. They give you a full day's work, they are never absent, they know what they are doing, and it's all done right."

Admittedly, it is a very personal thing but the financial planner must make sure the client understands everything that is involved, and that's not so easy a task. Some people just want to put their feet up on the lawn chair and let the mind go blank. Something to think about?

Register or login for access to this item and much more

All Accounting Today content is archived after seven days.

Community members receive:
  • All recent and archived articles
  • Conference offers and updates
  • A full menu of enewsletter options
  • Web seminars, white papers, ebooks

Don't have an account? Register for Free Unlimited Access