Thursday 22 August 2019

'They book the holiday, do up the house, and then realise they need help' - the challenges of retirement

Retirement can be a very difficult transition period
Retirement can be a very difficult transition period
Kirsty Blake Knox

Kirsty Blake Knox

They are meant to be the golden years of your life filled with nothing but cruises, leisurely lunches, and lie-ins.

But a few years in and the sheen of retirement can start to wear off, and individuals will often feel rudderless, and anxious.

According to therapist Claire Breen, the fourth and fifth years of retirement (particularly for those who opted for early retirement) tend to be the most challenging.

“The first year, people tend to book the big holiday – the one they have been planning for years, the second year they do the house and garden up. Fix all the loose ends they didn’t have time to do,” she explained.

“The third year they start doing a course and in the fourth or fifth year people can start to feel directionless. The novelty of retirement has gone and they realise they need some help.”

Retirement can be a huge challenge for individuals – the pace and structure of your day and week alters radically overnight, and the level of social interaction an individuals has on a daily basis can also decrease.

Men tend to find the transition harder than women.

“Especially if they had a job of high status and seniority,” life coach Breen explained.

“They lose that status overnight and that can be hard. It can also be isolating as the camaraderie around the water cooler is gone.”

Breen says women tend to feel more comfortable managing the different categories of their life – family, work, domesticity, friends.

If a man has invested a huge amount of time into his job, and has used his career achievements as a means of validating himself, than leaving all that behind can be a jolt.

This change can sometimes result in individuals feeling resentment and directing it at their spouse, which can lead to friction and feelings of hurt.

The lack of routine can be particularly challenging, but one that can be rectified easily.

“We need a sense of structure,” Breen said.

“When you think about it from the age of 4 or 5 we have been in a structure routine environment – to suddenly have no structure can be a very difficult thing to adjust to.”

A lack of structure can be very destabilising, and increase levels of anxiety in individuals.

Taking up part time or seasonal employment is a way many retirees can regain a sense of routine and social interaction.

When counselling retirees Clair examines the various different elements of their life from spirituality to physicality, relationships and hobbies to see what area they feel may be lacking or under stimulated.

“We then think about ways to rectify or realign things.”

The number of people aged 50 years or over resident in Ireland has increased by 330,000 over a ten-year period since 2008.

Online Editors

Editors Choice

Also in Life