Under the Influence – The Retirement Blues

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By Shawndi Purselley, CFP®, CDFA®, Owner and Co-Founder, Wealth Advisor

How is it that some people flourish in retirement while others seem to manage it poorly?

My great grandparents Lloyd and Henrietta spent many happy years in retirement.  Lloyd retired from working for the city and afterwards spent several years as a part time city tractor mower.  This job allowed him to continue to earn money, work outside, and enjoy his alone time.   He loved his moving job because it was a stress-free job and work environment.  Henrietta was a beautician for 40 years.  After she retired, she continued to work as a beautician on the side for several years.  They did not have pensions nor 401k assets.  They mainly lived off of part-time work, Social Security and a small amount of savings.  They were at the bottom of middle class, so how did they stay so happy?

I think there are several reasons that my grandparents were content with their lives.  They had lots of friends and siblings and were always having get-togethers with them.  They were avid card players and they had game night every weekend.  They didn’t spend money drinking, eating out, going to movies or taking extravagant trips.  In fact, neither of them ever stepped foot on an airplane during their retirement years.  They loved camping, in-home gatherings, and church on Sunday.  Lloyd and Henrietta lived to be 91 and 89 respectively and for the most part, stayed pretty healthy.  They somehow found a great balance in retirement and truly enjoyed a long and plentiful life despite their economic position.  I notice that my most content clients are the ones who spend their retirement years doing activities like volunteering, pursuing hobbies, attending church or participating in a club or civic group.  They also interact with family and friends frequently.

Today, more than any other time in history, retirees and seniors are experiencing a better quality of life after hanging up their working shoes.  Medical advances have not only extended life expectancy, but to a large degree, the quality of those years as well.

Depression, sadness and loneliness can be very real aspects of retirement for some people.   A few signs of a major depressive disorder episode may exist if there are feelings of depression, loss of interest, or unhappiness in doing activities.   Of course, there are many more signs of depression and they should all be taken seriously.  If you feel you may be depressed, or are feeling sad or anxious I would encourage you to talk with your doctor as well as your family for help immediately.  Self-worth can play a major role in feelings of discontent in retirement.  For so many years, you worked and could see the value of your days played out in the quality of a job well done.  Working, being a part of, and witnessing signs of progress in a project completed and well done is very satisfying and rewarding.  After retirement, it can be difficult to find an activity that provides the same sense of accomplishment and pride.

Here are some things I think are great ways to stay involved, active and fulfilled in retirement

  • Find a hobby
  • Exercise consistently
  • Eat healthy
  • Volunteer
  • Become a member of a senior citizen or civic organization that shares your values
  • Spend time with family and friends

Travel.  This doesn’t have to be extensive or cost prohibitive.  Traveling can mean getting in the car and heading south (or north) for a few days!  Retirement should be a fun, rewarding, relaxing, invigorating phase of your life!  If you don’t feel that is the case for you, please reach out to someone that can help you move through any undesirable feelings you may be having.  You owe it to yourself and your loved ones to make the most out of these years and to extend your time on earth for as long as possible.    Happy and fulfilled people live longer and healthier and make the world a better place for us all!

We all have but only one life on this planet, it is up to us to live it as beautifully as possible.

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