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  • Writer's picturePetra

ADHD and Retirement Planning. Yes, Really!

There are two things I want to discuss related to ADHD and retirement. The first is financial preparation, and the second is retirement as a life stage that can present problems to many people, and the types of things to think about regarding retiring with ADHD.


Managing your finances can be a tough task when you have ADHD. You might find that skills like organising and planning (think budgeting) can be a struggle, and impulsivity can make it easy to spend more money than you should, making it tough to save. Unfortunately, people with ADHD tend to earn less money on average and change jobs more frequently than neurotypical people. They're also less likely to get promoted, partially due to changing job more frequently. This can all add up to be a real financial disadvantage. And then there is the ADHD tax, which refers to all the extra expenses and costs associated with having ADHD that neurotypical people don't have to deal with as often (think late fees and forgetting to cancel subscriptions).

Luckily, in New Zealand, we have the Kiwisaver scheme which I believe can be especially beneficial for those with ADHD. Being in the scheme requires almost no effort and the money requires no willpower to save as it doesn't hit your bank account. Kiwisaver funds can be withdrawn to help pay a deposit for your first home or retire with more to live on than the pension. The good news is that you don't have to be a finance expert to make the most of Kiwisaver. Simply setting it up correctly at the start and then forgetting about it is a perfectly acceptable way to manage your investment. Here are two helpful resources that can aid in planning for retirement and understanding Kiwisaver:

Managing retirement

In my previous job at the older persons mental health service, almost every client I worked with was retired. Some common pitfalls to retirement became evident. Some people became depressed following retirement. Some didn't make any plans about their post-retirement life and just thought it would all fit into place. Some went from working full-time to stopping all work without any transition. Some realised they didn't really want to be spending that much time at home with their spouse (a tricky realisation). Retirement can be a wonderful time if the conditions are right. Below are some suggestions for planning retirement as a person with ADHD:

  1. See if you can transition gradually from work to retirement, which gives you time to set up new routines while you still have some work structure.

  2. Pay attention to daily routines, as there will likely be fewer natural prompts in the environment once work is finished. Try to keep consistent sleep and wake times, eating, and exercise. These routines form the basis of a well-regulated and healthy lifestyle.

  3. Think about joining some regular activities. This can be attendance at community groups, church, repeating dates with friends, or attending lessons for a new skill. Having activities planned gives you something to look forward to and helps to provide structure to your day.

  4. Make sure some of your activities are social activities. Regular social activities increase mental health and help to decrease the risk of dementia in older adults.

  5. Don't think that you have to stop ADHD medication because you've stopped work. Stimulant medication is safe into old-age for most people, and can help with your ability to organise the above-listed activities.

Now imagine a retirement where you've set up a saving plan years (or decades) in advance, and where you've planned your time well to allow for fun and for rest. It is possible, it just takes a little planning.

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