Retirement Blues

According to life’s great book of rules, retirement should be the satisfying, well-deserved culmination of a life spent in preparation for just this moment. Away from the stresses of the working world, able to pursue interests that are actually interesting, free to spend time as you want – darn close to the definition of the perfect scenario. How could anyone find they are anything but happy to be retired?

Be careful what you wish for…

What if you discover you are not entirely ready to retire? What if you are unprepared to fill your free hours with worthwhile, meaningful and fun things? Perhaps worst of all what if you become bored? The thought of twenty or thirty more years spent pursuing the same dismal course can bring on those retirement blues big time.

I enjoy being retired. But the beginning of my second act was anything but enjoyable. Having lost my job at the tender age of 53 no one was more surprised than me to find I was no longer hirable. Apparently 30 years of experience was no longer valued in the fast moving technology start-up rocket-to-the-moon companies I had been happily engaged with to this point. Upon finding myself “on the streets” I struggled for more than a year to find some fit, enduring multiple pulse-quickening sweaty-pit-inducing interviews but found no takers.

At first I was confused. To this point I had moved seamlessly from company to company with very little time between jobs. Someone always wanted me on their team. I thought I still had “it” but apparently that was not the case. What had changed so drastically?

I questioned my own worth. Was it something about me? Had I lost my mojo, was I no longer good enough? In the end I fear I was just too old to fit the bill with the twenty-something CEOs driving those enterprises onward. My original plans had been to work to close to age 62. Forced retirement could put a major crimp in the financial position I had hoped to be in before my exit. Not the best way to start a retirement life.

What if you find as you enter your “golden years” you are not physically or mentally up to launching a new life chapter? Many retirement age folks have worked long and hard along the way. Some may just be worn out. Now that you finally have the time to do all you dream of you just don’t have the energy. Talk about grounds for a serious case of the retirement blues.

What if you find yourself living your retirement dream solo? Probably not exactly the dream you envisioned but sometimes reality just the same. All those adventures you planned with your significant other, those spur-of-the-moment escapes, those travels to previously unvisited destinations, those peaceful times spent side-by-side reading or just enjoying being together – without someone to share the moment a piece of the magic is missing.

What if retirement is just not what you expected? You may be free to do what you want but do you know what that might be? Will an empty calendar be a good thing or not? You may have hobbies but are they enough to entertain you for ten or twenty or more years?

Before you let those retirement blues get the best of you take a moment to remember what you have dealt with and survived to arrive at this stage of your life. Each of us has faced challenges. If you have raised a family you have weathered storms the likes of which only fellow parents can imagine. You have withstood everything from teething to tantrums, sleepless nights to dance recital jitters, teen angst to bewildered young adults struggling to grow up, and on and on. You have to be pretty tough to get through all this with all your marbles (or at least most of them).

Many have weathered careers that were a far cry from what we imagined when we began. Not all bosses are a joy to work with. Not all deadlines are reasonable. Not all who should be promoted are in fact promoted. Sticking with it is no easy chore and yet you prevailed.

Retirees are survivors. Don’t sell yourself short. Call upon those super hero strengths you developed along the way.

I try not to worry about things out of my control. Too often I imagine all the bad outcomes that could be and then when the moment arrives it turns out not nearly as awful as I imagined. Unfortunately I cannot take back those worrisome moments spent in anticipation of something that ultimately never was. I am learning it is better to go with the flow rather than try to prepare for every possibility.

Coping with the blues is part of the human experience. Retirement blues is just another track on the same record. We have done it before and with a little luck and determination we should be able to do it again.

Happy Retirement!

LoveBeingRetired.com

Five Ways to Encourage Seniors to Stay Social

Written by Nurse Susan

Regular social interaction is essential for seniors, especially those who are living alone and face an increased risk of developing depression.

However, even if they know about the benefits that come with socializing, many seniors feel unmotivated to seek out social engagements, or they feel that they have physical limitations that are holding them back. They may also simply not know how to go about finding opportunities socialize with their peers.

This is where you come in. If you’re worried that a parent or loved one is spending too much time alone, it’s important for you to take some initiative and help them combat social isolation. If you’re feeling a bit lost, start with these five tips:

  1. Help Them Find Transportation

Whether they no longer own a car or suffer from a medical condition that leaves them unable to drive, many seniors end up isolated because they lack transportation.

If this is an issue for the senior in your life, coordinate with other family and friends to arrange regular rides for them.

You might also want to check with your local senior center to see if they offer any kind of shuttle to help seniors run errands or get to community events. Some cities even give seniors free or discounted bus passes.

  1. Provide Them With Adaptive Technologies

Some seniors are also hesitant to go out and socialize because they worry about mobility limitations or hearing deficits.

Making sure your parent or loved one has the proper adaptive tools at their disposal may help them feel more confident going out and spending time with their peers.

Some tools that can make a big difference in the experience seniors have out in public include:

  • Hearing aids
  • Telecoils for busy places like movie theaters and churches
  • Walkers
  • Wheelchairs

Some seniors may be hesitant to use these devices, either because they’re embarrassed about needing extra help or because they think they’re too expensive. It may take a little coaxing at first, so remember to be patient as you talk up the benefits of adaptive technologies.

  1. Address Any Incontinence Issues Ahead of Time

Incontinence is a major issue for the majority of seniors. In fact, urinary incontinence affects more than half of non-institutionalized women over the age of 65 and more than one-fourth of non-institutionalized men.

If the senior in your life struggles with incontinence, they may feel less inclined to leave the house, even for short periods of time. To help assuage their fears, make sure you have incontinence supplies like portable toilets and wipes on hand before going out.

  1. Don’t Ambush Them

When it comes to encouraging seniors to get out and socialize more, it’s important to avoid ambushing them with surprise, last-minute outings. These events will most likely end up increasing their anxiety and may even anger them, especially if they feel like you’re not respecting their wishes.

If you have a particular event that you want to your parent or loved one to attend, be sure to let them know about it ahead of time and continue to remind them leading up the event.

It can also be helpful to contact the person planning the event and let them know about any accommodations your parent may need.

  1. Start Small

If it’s been a while since your parent or loved one has gone out and socialized, they may become overwhelmed very easily.

To make the event more enjoyable for them, be sure to plan it around their current schedule and avoid keeping them out for more than couple hours at a time.

Planning events earlier in the day can also be beneficial, especially for seniors who are starting to struggle with memory loss or dementia, as they often begin to feel confused in the evening (this is known as sundowning).

Don’t let the seniors in your life become isolated, especially if they’re struggling with an illness, the death of a spouse, or another major life change.

Keep these tips in mind as you encourage them to continue to get out and interact with other people, and remember to always be patient when encouraging your loved ones to break their routine or try something new.

6 Smart Spring Cleaning Tips for Seniors

Written by Nurse Susan

Looking forward to your annual spring cleaning extravaganza? Many seniors find themselves taking advantage of the spring cleaning tradition as a way to downsize, get organized, and prioritize health and safety. Don’t miss these 6 smart spring-cleaning tips for seniors:

Plan Out Your Project

How often have you started a spring cleaning project like “reorganizing the garage” only to find yourself knee deep in mountains of stuff and totally out of time? When it comes to taking on sweeping projects like spring cleaning, make a plan before you start sorting through anything.

Experts recommend tackling one room at a time and being purposeful about how stuff is sorted and organized. For example, go ahead and get three large bags ready so you can easily place items you no longer want either to be donated/given away, thrown out, or recycled. Make a To-Do list so you understand the scope of what you’re wanting to do and can attack it in the most efficient way.

Recruit Friends and Family

For seniors especially, the heavy lifting and strenuous activity spring cleaning calls for can be dangerous to your health and safety. If you have an intensive project planned like removing large pieces of furniture or even just re-organizing your living area, make sure to recruit help. Be it friends, family, or simply a neighborhood teen who can help, the extra manpower is sure to both speed up your spring cleaning job as well as prevent unnecessary injuries.

Declutter

While fall prevention may always be on your radar as a senior, are you really doing much about it? Spring cleaning can paved the way for decluttering your living environment, which is an effective step in helping prevent falls. Where possible you’ll want to remove large furniture in common walkways and take care of trip hazards, i.e. nail down curled up carpet corners and bundle messy cords.

If you or a loved one whom you live with has experienced frequent falls, spring cleaning will also be a great time to lay down a fall mat or floor mat alarm in precarious areas, like by beds and sofas (where a lot of standing and sitting happens). Fall mats with alarms help to both cushion a fall and prevent serious injury as well as alert caregivers.

Assess Outdoor Walkways

Speaking of fall prevention, as warmer spring weather beckons you outdoors, you’ll want to make sure that outdoor walkways are not posing any danger to your stability. This includes porch and deck railings, wheelchair ramps, sidewalks, driveways, even garden paths. Everything from an unstable handhold or a sidewalk covered in uneven cracks, to a ramp that is slick from a brutal winter can be a recipe for disaster.

Remember Your Medicine Cabinet

As you’re going room to room cleaning and organizing, don’t forget about the often overlooked medicine cabinet. Do you have leftover prescriptions you no longer use? Are any of your over-the-counter medicines expired?

It’s important for seniors especially to take extra care when sorting and storing medicines to prevent accidentally switching or missing doses. The FDA helpfully provides insight into medicine disposal guidelines and drug buyback programs. Don’t forget that old prescriptions have lots of personal information on them so you want to remove the labels or scratch out personal information on them prior to disposing of or recycling them.

Check Off Emergency Items

In addition to downsizing the amount of “stuff” you have in the house, you’ll want to make sure all your emergency and fire safety measures are in good and working order.

  • Program emergency contact numbers and Medical ID information into your smartphone (or an easily accessible list in your home)
  • Double check that your fire extinguisher is charged and not expired
  • Test smoke and CO2 alarms for live, active batteries
  • Compile an up-to-date list of any medicines (prescriptions and over-the-counter) which you take regularly
  • Make sure your first aid kit is stocked and build an accompanying kit of water bottles, a blanket, flashlight with
  • batteries, back-ups of commonly taken medicines, non-perishable snacks, etc.

And finally, try not to overdo it! You might feel like you’re on a roll moving from room to room and cleaning like a machine. All the bending, stooping, reaching, and lifting, however, can take their toll on your joints and muscles. You don’t want to be so stiff and sore in the following days that you have trouble going about your day-to-day tasks.