Discussing your clients' social lives can help promote their health and well-being
As an advisor, you are a pro at talking to your clients about their investments, but it's just as important to discuss their families, hobbies and other pursuits. Doing so both helps build stronger relationships with your clients and promotes their health and well-being by encouraging them to remain socially engaged throughout retirement.
Research shows that the benefits of social engagement include resistance to illness and disease, greater cognitive health, an increased sense of purpose, and living longer. Social isolation, on the other hand, is associated with health risks comparable to those that come with smoking, and socially isolated people face a mortality risk twice as high as that posed by obesity.
In spite of the proven benefits of social engagement, however, more retirees are becoming isolated. Only 46 percent of those between 65 and 74 interact with neighbors on a weekly basis, compared to 59 percent in 1995. Meanwhile, 62 percent of the same age group is engaged in community or religious activities, down from 77 percent in 1995.
For many of these people, work has been their main source of friendship and socializing for most of their adult lives. Fortunately, there are many ways your clients can remain socially active well into retirement. To help your clients build strong social portfolios, discuss the following topics with them as they approach and enter retirement:
Almost 20 percent of Americans 65 and older hold some type of job, according the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. People who work past the traditional retirement age, or find part-time work in retirement, continue to enjoy the social benefits associated with work. What's more, working longer reduces the number of years your clients have to pay for retirement, and gives their savings more time to grow.
Retirement can be a great time to give back, and retirees offer skills and maturity that volunteer organizations welcome. For retirees, volunteering brings a sense of purpose, connecting them with fellow volunteers and others outside their normal social circle. Many studies have demonstrated a link between volunteering and better health, from increased physical activity to better cardiovascular health. A 2016 study in Social Science and Medicine even found that volunteers spend fewer nights in the hospital than non-volunteers.
Joining clubs and taking classes
There are clubs for nearly every activity imaginable, from gardening to skiing to reading to meditation. No matter what activity your clients are interested in, joining a club devoted to it provides an opportunity to socialize among like-minded individuals. It also offers health benefits similar to those that come with volunteering. A recent study found that group membership is associated with a reduced risk of premature death, and that its health benefits compare with those of regular exercise after retirement.
Classes present similar social benefits for retirees, who may be able to take advantage of local community center courses and lectures on a wide range of subjects, as well as other activities and social events. Exercise classes bring the best of both worlds: the health benefits of exercise combined with the social and health benefits of group participation.
Signing onto social media
Social media, once the domain of the young and tech-savvy, is now used widely by people of all ages. In fact, social media usage among Americans 65 and older more than tripled between 2010 and 2015, according to a recent report from the Pew Research Center.
The effect of social media on senior health and well-being has yet to be studied thoroughly, but it clearly allows for quick and easy contact with a wide variety of people, from distant friends to close family. Social media also allows retirees to share photos and videos with family members, and to create groups based on shared interests.
No matter how your retired clients decide to engage socially, those who develop strong social portfolios are more likely to live longer, happier lives than their counterparts who don't. What's more, taking time to discuss their social lives can strengthen your bond with them, too.