The new retirement

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 plans often focused simply on the end of work and a period of winding down, today’s retirees see themselves as having more choice and 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? Download the report.

Explore the Four Pillars of the New Retirement

Retirement, like life, is not one-dimensional. Overwhelmingly, participants in our study identified four areas that, working together, impact the quality of life in retirement: health, family, purpose and finances. Dubbed the Four Pillars, what happens in one affects the others. Achieving your ideal retirement requires thought and action about each of these pillars.

“The Four Pillars of the New Retirement” study from Age Wave and Edward Jones surveyed 9,000 adults in Canada and the U.S. across five generations. Here are some key Canadian takeaways:

 A retirement-aged couple check their account on a laptop at their kitchen table.

Pillar 1: Health

Many Canadians view retirement as a time to improve their health – in mind, body and spirit. But understanding the central importance of health doesn’t always translate into adopting healthy behaviours. Only half of retirees say they exercise regularly, and one-third say they don’t maintain a healthy diet1. Alzheimer’s and other dementias are the conditions Canadians retirees fear the most – more than cancer or heart attack or even infectious diseases like COVID-19.

Survey finding:

  • 91% of Canadians ages 50 and older agree that being healthy is about being able to do the things you want.

Things to consider:

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

 A retirement-aged man rides his bicycle down a main road.

Pillar 2: Family

Family is the greatest source of satisfaction, support and purpose – and the recent pandemic has brought families even closer together. On the one hand, Canadians aged 50+ worry about becoming a burden on their families. On the other hand, they're willing to offer financial support to family regardless of how it impacts their future.

Survey finding:

  • While becoming a burden is a major concern, 47% of Canadians and 30% of those over 65 have not discussed end-of-life care preferences with anyone at all.
  • Also among retirees who are not partnered, 22% say they have no one they could turn to for care.

Things to consider:

  • Under what circumstances might you become a burden on your family, and what can you do now to avoid that?
  • Do you plan to offer financial support to family members during retirement, and for what purpose(s)?

 A grandfather helps his young granddaughter ride her bike through a park.

Pillar 3: Purpose

Retirees say their greatest source of purpose is from spending time with loved ones. Having purpose has been linked to greater happiness, better health, more social engagement and longer life2.

Survey finding:

  • 33% of Canadian retirees struggle to find purpose in retirement.
  • 97% of retirees say that it’s important to keep learning and growing at every age.
  • 89% of Canadians agree that there should be more ways for retirees to help in their communities.

Things to consider:

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

 A grandfather helps his young granddaughter pick up trash in a park.

Pillar 4: Finances

The role of money in retirement is to provide security and freedom. Despite the fundamental importance of financial security, before COVID-19, one in three Canadian adults were not on track with their retirement savings, and among Canadians ages 55-64 who don't have an employer pension plan, their median retirement savings is just $3,0003.

Survey finding:

  • Among pre-retirees, healthcare costs, including long-term care, are the number one worry, followed closely by unexpected expenses.

Things to consider:

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

 A couple check their Edward Jones finances on their laptop in their home office.

Read the full report: “The Four Pillars of the New Retirement

Find a financial advisor to explore these topics and build a holistic financial strategy.

More resources

A grandfather and his two young grandchildren pose for a photograph.

Planning your estate

Learn how proper estate planning can protect you and your family.

Learn More
Young parents sit with their toddler daughter as she colors.

Insurance and Annuities

Protect your family's financial future.

Learn More
A young mother and daughter smile at one another as they do yoga together in their living room.

Your physical, emotional and financial wellness

We understand planning for the future is about more than saving and your financial health.

Learn More

Important Information:

1 The Edward Jones and Age Wave Thought Leadership Study, “The Four Pillars of the New Retirement”, 2020
2 Amanda Macmillan, “People Age Better If They Have Purpose in Life,” Time, August 16, 2017.
3 Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan (HOOPP), Seniors and Poverty: Canada’s Next Crisis? August 2017.