Are You Having a Hard Time Coping With Retirement?
The picture to the left illustrates a very happy couple enjoying their retirement. But, is this reality? Not for everyone.
When I was a boy I clearly remember the family pressuring my grandfather to retire. He did not react well. He did not want to retire but, ultimately, as a result of the pressure, he grudgingly retired. Soon after that the took in work that he did for private clients. He didn’t take many but he wanted to feel useful and not lose the skills he learned over a lifetime. My grandfather was a furrier long before environmental issues or animal cruelty became a real and serious problem.
I’m very familiar with retirement. I’ve done it many times. My family never believed I would retire in the first place. They knew me better than I did. Guess, what, I’m working again.
So, why is it so hard to retire or stay retired? This is not true for everyone but it is true for many people. Certainly, there are those who are forced to retire because of company policy. Typically, they are eager to continue their careers elsewhere.
One factor that makes retirement so difficult is that 1. many people need the money. However, for others, money is no issue. 2. Then there are those who retire and replace it with another type of work because they have worked since they were children and cannot imagine doing anything else with their time. 3. Lastly, there is a health issue. Serious health problems leave those individuals with no choice but to give up work.
So, why do we go back to work? For one, many of us find it very boring. The day becomes very long with nothing to do. I suppose golf can be a kind of substitute yet many of those folks turn to drink. It is not uncommon for people to turn to alcohol when they find themselves with too much time and nothing to do. Even if people have saved for their retirement many find that the money is not enough to cover travel expenses and long vacations.
Perhaps, one of the greatest problems that accompany retirement is the loss of identity. Most people define themselves by the kind of work they do. For example, as with my grandfather, “I am a furrier.” Other examples include such things as 1. “I am a teacher, 2. professor, 3. medical doctor, 4. social worker, 5. professional athlete and others. The list is endless and if I did not include your work it’s only because there is not room enough to include everyone.
There are many serious problems connect to no longer working for a great many individuals:
1. Married couples whose lives were filled with family, raising children and work, now find themselves home with one another too much of the time. They start to quarrel, wives complain that their husbands are in the way or “underfoot,” and couples just irritate one another. They “get on each others’ nerves.
2. I have counseled retired married people with this problem and they are frequently very angry. Often, the fuel that feeds the fires of conflict is unresolved problems from the past because they were too busy to deal with them in the past. Now they come to the surface, sometimes with a vengeance.
3. What soon sets in for some retirees is depression. That means they struggle with feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, and gloominess.
4. Unfortunately, Depression and boredom are frequently accompanied by drinking.
So, what can you do to better cope with retirement? Here are some suggestions:
1. Get plenty of exercise.
2. Find volunteer activities.
3. Keep a regular schedule. In other words, don’t lie around in bed.
4. Find a part-time job, perhaps something you’ve always wanted to. There are now many jobs available because the employment rate is high and employers can’t fill all of there positions.
5. If you are religious you can get involved in your Church, Synagogue. For example, my older brother, a retired MD, always wanted to be a Rabbi, so he studied and trained and was successful. While he does lead a congregation, he is deeply involved in teaching and volunteering at his synagogue
6. Go back to school and complete your studies, whether they be for a High School diploma, a college degree or graduate work. Many colleges and universities grand retirees to audit classes that interest them. I know a number of people, retired, who are auditing history classes.
7. Do not isolate yourself. See family and friends and cultivate new friends.
This not a complete list but I hope it gives you some ideas of what you can do.
Lastly, if you just cannot shake off the depression, anxiety or psychotherapy for the aging population is available. Please contact me either by telephone at 720-470-2028. Even if you live far from where I live, we can have video sessions.