Retirement is the beginning of a new journey filled with new possibilities and new questions.

A retired couple hiking in the mountains.
A grandfather, a father, and a toddler son pose for a candid outdoor photo.
A woman leading an outdoor tour.
A retired couple looking at a laptop computer.

Retirement today means a new life chapter that you get to write – so say the majority of today’s retirees in a recent study from Edward Jones and Age Wave called “The Four Pillars of the New Retirement.”

While yesterday’s retirement often focused on the end of work and winding down, today’s retirees see themselves as having more freedom – freedom from many work and family responsibilities, and freedom to explore new options and pursue new interests. Are you confident that your retirement plan is ready for your idea of retirement?

Today, people are reaching their 60th or 65th birthday and beginning to think, "Wait a minute... I might have 20, 25, 30 years of life in front of me. It's a whole new chapter in life."

Explore the Four Pillars of the New Retirement

Our study surveyed 9,000 North Americans across five generations and identified four areas (dubbed the Four Pillars) that impact the quality of life in retirement: health, family, purpose and finances. Achieving your ideal retirement requires thought and action about each of these pillars.

Pillar 1: Health

Part of what’s new about retirement is a longer lifespan and more years in this life stage. Good health offers choices. Unfortunately, most adults spend 10 years in poor health. The most feared condition in America is Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

Survey finding:

of Americans over the age of 50 agree that being healthy is about being able to do the things you want.

Things to consider:

  1. What steps can you take today that could improve your overall physical and mental health?
  2. If you needed prolonged care, who would you want to provide that care and where?

Pillar 2: Family

Family is the greatest source of satisfaction, support and purpose. On the one hand, adults 50+ worry about becoming a burden on their families. On the other hand, they are willing to offer financial support to family regardless of how it impacts their future.

Survey finding:

of retirees say being a burden to their family is one of their top fears, but 1 in 4 Americans over the age of 65 have not discussed their end of life care preferences with anyone at all.

Things to consider:

  1. How might you become a burden on your family, and what can you do now to avoid that?
  2. Do you anticipate offering financial support to family members during retirement, and for what purpose(s)?

Pillar 3: Purpose

Retirees say their greatest source of purpose is from spending time with loved ones. They also value learning and growing. Yet now, with more than seven hours a day of free time, one in three new retirees struggles to find purpose in retirement.

Survey finding:

of Americans feel there should be more ways for retirees to use their talents and knowledge for the benefit of others.

Things to consider:

  1. What interests or priorities would give you a strong sense of purpose or fulfillment in retirement?
  2. What unique experiences and talents do you have that could be used to help others?

Pillar 4: Finances

The role of money in retirement is to provide security and freedom. Over half of retirees wish they had budgeted more for unexpected expenses. When it comes to the unexpected, the cost of health care is more worrisome than a recession.

Survey finding:

of Americans who plan to retire in the next 10 years say they have no idea what their health and long-term care costs will be in retirement.

Things to consider:

  1. How can you make your money last as long as you live, especially anticipating health care costs?
  2. How can you structure your finances in retirement to stay on budget, while still enjoying the money you’ve worked so hard to save?