Sept 30 is the official retirement date for civil servants in Thailand and for many, the adjustment period into the golden years can be quite daunting. Here are a few tips that the newly retired may find useful.
Researchers repeatedly find that retired people tend to do less well on cognitive tests than people who are still working. Moreover, research also finds that those who work longer think better, implying that the earlier people retire, the more quickly their memories decline.
No one seems to take this matter more seriously than the Americans. The National Institute on Aging began a large study in the US nearly 20 years ago called the Health and Retirement Study. It surveys more than 22,000 Americans over the age of 50 every two years and administers memory tests. The test looks at how well people can recall a list of 10 words immediately and 10 minutes after they had heard them. People in the United States did best, scoring an average of 11 out of a perfect 20. European countries also have their own surveys, using similar questions. The Danish and British were just behind their American peers with scores just above 10, followed by France (8), Italy (7), and Spain (6).
Researchers have found that the longer people keep working, the better they do on cognitive tests when they are in their 60s. There is evidence that basic social skills _ getting up in the morning, dealing with people, knowing the value of being prompt and trustworthy _ are also important. They go hand in hand with the working.
Economic incentives produce the large differences in retirement age. Countries with earlier retirement ages have tax policies, pensions, disability plans and other measures to encourage people to retire at younger ages.
In the case of Thailand, the official retirement age for most companies and civil servants is 60, and where tax policy is concerned, it is even earlier at 55 years for registered provident funds and Retirement Mutual Funds (RMFs). As more Thais grow older, the rules will also have to change with the times.
Maybe the official retirement age should be raised to 65 or even 70. Alternatively, we could follow the example set by Britain, where the default retirement age of 65 has been eliminated altogether. I know of several people who never want to retire, our former auditor general is probably one of them.
Teera Phutrakul is a certified financial planner and the chairman of the Thai Financial Planners Association.
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Writer: Teera Phutrakul