Preparing Mentally for Retirement

18 Jul by HPA/LiveWell Clinical Psychology

When anticipating retirement, most focus on being financial prepared, but tend to neglect the importance of preparing mentally for retirement. And while finances are certainly important, having enough money does not guarantee a happy and healthy life after retirement.

Retirement is a major life event that brings many changes. With more than 70 million baby boomers set to retire in the next decade, there is increased interest in the notion of quality of life in retirement. At HPA/LiveWell in Albany, New York, we strive to support retirees in preparing mentally for retirement, coping with the transition, and creating the life they want to live.

Psychological Impact of Retirement

Aging impacts mental health on it’s own; add in a major life transition like retirement, and the psychological effects can be immense. In fact, retirement is considered a major risk factor for depression, and one third of retirees report poor adjustment to retirement. This is likely due to the losses experienced in retirement and the psychological impact those losses can have. Many retirees report significant change and/or a sense of loss in the following areas:

  • Social Life – many adults form connections with those they work with. In retirement, social networks and interpersonal relationships may dwindle when there is a change to one’s contact with colleagues.
  • Sense of Self-worth and Personal Identity – for individuals who have worked their whole lives, their sense of value and worth may be tied to their jobs. No longer getting a paycheck, or achieving success in a career can take a toll on one’s sense of worth, identity, and confidence.
  • Purpose – time is abundant in retirement, and for many, the extra time can create a sense of feeling lost in life.

Preparing Mentally for Retirement

Transitioning to retirement can be stressful and, at times, destabilizing. Yet knowing ways to manage the stress through planning can help you feel more positive about retirement, and create a happier life in retirement.

Tips on how to prepare for retirement:

  • Find a purpose – prior to retirement, plan what you are going to do with your time (i.e. – volunteer, hobbies, part-time work). Visualize what you want to do with your time and how you want to feel.
  • Identify a hobby or interest you might like to pursue.
  • Seek support – trusted loved one, friend, or mental health professional.
  • Be social and get out into the community – keep friendships alive and be active in your community. Try joining a local group, club, or class.
  • Establish structure – sticking to a routine or daily schedule is important as having a lot of free time can make some retirees feel a bit lost. Being intentional about your days is essential.

To find out more on preparing mentally for retirement, or to learn about the mental health services at HPA/LiveWell in Albany, New York, contact us at 518-218-1188.