Retirement. The idea can seem freeing — not having to participate in the daily work grind. Yet it's a surprisingly difficult transition for many.
For the nearly 8 million Americans already retired and the increasing numbers of baby boomers reaching the turning point every year, figuring out what to do next after work can be difficult.
But social worker Sherry Parrish, who hosts "What's Next?" on the Retirement Living TV channel, has advice for retirees stuck in a rut. Get her input on how to lead a healthier, happier life in your retirement years.
Problems Retirees Face
Loss of identity is a big issue for retirees. They face all the problems in life that workers face, but now without the support network that work can provide. If you don't have a lot of friends, you become lonely very quickly and if you don't have a lot of money, become needy very quickly.
You can spot potential problems for retirees by looking for some warning signs. For example if new things don't interest them or if they display depression and negativism, a problem could exist.
They already say they know something won't work without trying it. It's not about health. It's an attitude thing.
How to Help
The first thing is just to listen. And you don't have to do gigantic interventions. You can just do something small, such as taking them out to do something or for a meal.
People who stop working tend to lose that sense of being part of a team. For example, if you don't show up for work, someone calls looking for you. But when you're retired, nobody comes looking for you if you stay in bed all day. So whether you volunteer, get a part time job, or you work in your garden — it doesn't matter what you do, it's just important that you do something.
Forcing an Early Retirement
About 30 percent of retirees between ages 62 and 67 say they were "forced" into retirement. In fact, four out of every 10 retirees quit working before they had planned to quit.
And it's becoming more common, especially for blue collar workers. There's a large group of industrial workers who don't know what to do with their lives.
I think that each person needs to approach it in a way that is unique for them. I think it's important to learn new things. When you look at successful people, they generally have been successful because they were willing to do something new.
Sometimes we say, "Forget what you did for a living. What might you have done if you didn't have to earn a living?" Consider what you would want to do if you could work for just one day. Take a look at the things that bring you joy.