Prescription Drugs For Retirement

What if there was a prescription drug for retirement that would fix everything? It would give you the energy to work longer and harder, thus saving more so you could reach retirement quicker. The benefits would bleed over to your personal life as well. You would not only feel better about who you are and where you are going, but it would also improve your health and overall well-being. You’d finally have the momentum to get back to the gym and drop a few pounds, the desire to go out and do more with friends and even reinvigorate your sex life.

If such a wonder drug existed, would you take it?

It’s an interesting question to consider because at times it can feel like the financial services industry and main-stream media portray traditional retirement planning like a prescription drug ad. We’ve all seen a drug commercial where they project this image of a happy, out-going person doing fun things while words, too small to read, flash across the screen as a low monotone voice describes all of the adverse side effects.

One commercial I saw depicted a woman welcoming her family with a big smile and open arms as they warn that the medications side effects were severe diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting… which doesn’t seem very welcoming to me. The ad then transitions to her joyfully riding a bike and warns that patients could experience an increase in depression or suicidal behavior.

It’s definitely an odd combination, but the financial services industry does something similar. We flash these media campaigns that suggest having enough money will produce the life in retirement that people dream about. That somehow, saving enough money, picking the right year to start Social Security, and using an annuity product to avoid the next big market crash will make everything right.

It’s a lopsided approach. The piece that is missing is the disclaimer that describes all of the side effects of only preparing for the financial aspects of retirement. This may be surprising to many, but some of the side effects are the same.

Often times, when I ask people what some of the issues can be if they don’t have a written plan that addresses the personal side of life in retirement, I hear things like boredom and loneliness, weight gain, watching too much television, or annoying your spouse.

Yes, these are all potential side effects, but they are also the low hanging ones. Other more troubling symptoms can be shame, guilt, or resentment and lead to factors such as divorce, addiction, depression, and even suicide. There are also more deeply rooted factors such as disenfranchised grief or maladaptive patterns, i.e., negative beliefs that can create a downward spiral.

I have to admit, it’s a frightening list that may leave some people wondering if they should ever retire. But the goal is not to scare people away from retirement, but rather to acknowledge that things can come up, and when they do, that there are qualified people they can talk to.

However, let me caveat that last point about qualified professionals. When it comes to prescription drug commercials, they at least direct people to talk to a physician if something isn’t going right or they are planning to become pregnant or are taking other medications. Financial services and related companies need to start disclosing potential problems that people may face in retirement and direct people back to ta qualified advisor.

Fact of the matter is, there are very few qualified people in our industry to do this, yet we are positioned perfectly to fill this role. Yes, there are some planners who claim to be life planners or suggest they are more holistic, but very few have any training to support it. They may ask you a couple questions about your personal life during the initial process, claim to have a deck of cards that can help sort your personal values, or have you complete a short assessment, but those approaches do very little for ongoing situations.

They treat your life in retirement like a one-time event rather than an ongoing journey that will inevitably have various ups and downs. Therefore, just because your advisor labels themselves in this category, doesn’t mean they are qualified. Seek out professionals with the knowledge, experience, tools and resources.

Fortunately, it’s a situation we can remedy. It all starts by acknowledging the need to take people through a planning process that includes a non-financial plan, disclosing the side effects of retirement, and training financial professionals to not only recognize issues but also provide the support and resources that people need.

Robert Laura

Robert Laura is the Retirement Activist who is committed to changing the way people think about and prepare for every aspect of retirement. His nationally syndicated columns at and Financial Advisor magazine reflect his ground breaking efforts to challenge the status quo of traditional retirement planning. As a former social worker and certified personal trainer turned money manager and author, he has found that...(Read More)

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