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Friends, Not Grandkids, Key to Happy Retirement
Date:4/15/2010

h strongly agreed with the statement, "I miss the socializing of working life."

"Social groups in retirement, particularly those that revolve around shared interests, can provide a retiree with a number of basic psychological needs -- a sense of connectedness, of purpose, and of mastery if there is a skill involved," Robinson said. "The great retirement trap is loneliness, and active social groups negate the possibility of that."

American retirees have expressed similar sentiments regarding what makes their life most enjoyable, said Rosemary Blieszner, associate dean of the graduate school at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and director of the Center for Gerontology.

"Older adults are very interested in their grandchildren and want them to succeed, but really, I think that most of your happiness and psychological well-being is going to come from your peers," Blieszner said. "For many stages of life, not just old age, people feel like their age peers understand what they're going through and give them that social support that comes from friendship and understanding."

Having a spouse or a longtime partner also matters significantly when it comes to enjoyment of retired life, the British team found. Seniors who are widowed, never married, divorced or separated reported lower levels of life satisfaction than people in long-term relationships.

It also makes a difference whether your partner is retired along with you. The study found that retirees whose spouse or partner is still working enjoyed their life less than those who have been joined in retirement by their partner.

"Those retirement individuals whose partner is not retired miss their work lives more, perhaps because they are unable to fully engage with retirement," Robinson said.

"They are in a kind of limbo state, unable to make plans for long holidays or a substantial change of life until the retirement of their partner
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