Successful retirement takes planning

Elaine Briggs Special to The Star-Herald, Special to The County
17 years ago

Retirement is often depicted as an idyllic time of travel and leisure with none of the stress and pressure of the “world of work.” For most retirees, however, the reality is very different. After decades of employment, many people – especially men – may find that the sudden “freedom” of retirement creates its own unique stressors.     The American Society on Aging (ASA) suggests that successful retirement is built on careful planning. Some facts:
• Adjustment to retirement has much to do with circumstances surrounding your retirement.
• Self-motivated planning for retirement is associated with lower stress, anxiety, and depressive symptoms.
• Even though you develop an initial plan for retirement, it may be necessary to revisit the issue as your circumstances change.
The unstructured freedom to engage in a favorite hobby or simply “do nothing” can quickly lose its allure. After a lifetime of being defined by “what we do for a living,” many people find that retirement is most rewarding when they have a clear sense of purpose in life. How you use your retirement time can be key to successful aging and life satisfaction. Before and during retirement, it is important to have something you look forward to doing. The ASA offers these questions for your consideration:
• What have I always wanted to do?
• What dreams did I have when I was younger?
• What have I learned over my life that others could use to better their lives?
• How do I make the most of the additional time I now have?
Friendship and social support are other key issues to consider in planning a meaningful retirement. The Mayo Clinic defines social support as a network of family, friends, colleagues and other acquaintances you can turn to, whether in times of crisis or simply for fun or entertainment. Social support can increase your sense of belonging, purpose and self-worth, and it can promote positive mental health.
Before retirement, many people use the workplace as a source of informal, if limited, social support. Once the job is over, that support may disappear. It’s important to develop a range of other contacts. Ask yourself:
• Where do I go to talk with just men? The barbershop, poolroom, men’s church group, golf courses, garages? For women – the beauty shop, gym, church group?
• What hobbies do you have that might encourage new friendships? Gardening, music, dancing, chess, home repair, painting, cooking, fishing, bridge or bingo?
• What civic or service groups might bring you in contact with others? Clubs, meals on wheels programs, food pantries, professional organizations for retirees, schools, chambers of commerce?
• What faith-based organizations have groups you might join?
• What political or community-organizing groups are looking for your involvement?
A few hours, days, weeks or months of consideration and “trying ” new experiences may be the path to tremendous personal satisfaction, great relationships and meaningful contributions in retirement.
For information on issues related to aging, contact the Aroostook Agency on Aging at 764-3396 or 1-800-439-1789, e-mail or visit