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!

6 Ways Seniors Can Use Technology to Better Their Health

Written by Nurse Susan

Curious how technology can give your health and wellness a boost as a senior? Don’t miss this quick guide:

Talk to a Doctor

If an after-hours run to an urgent care clinic or a visit to the doctor during peak flu season has you hunkering down at home even when you feel ill, it may be time to check out telemedicine. The latest in the evolution of mobile health technologies, telemedicine is providing convenient access to licensed and board-certified medical professionals via live video chat on your computer.

Some health insurance providers already offer telemedicine portals for patients to connect with doctors online, but other online services like Doctor on Demand also let you live video chat with a doctor who can assess your symptoms, evaluate your condition, and even order some tests and prescribe medicine.

Organize Medicine Schedules

Did you know that roughly 50% of people with a chronic illness do not take their medicine as prescribed? An estimated 4 out of 5 seniors live with at least one chronic illness too, many of which are managed with medicine. Coordinating medicine schedules when there are different prescriptions, dosings, and frequencies not to mention multiple providers can get complicated.

Smartphone apps like MediSafe, Pillboxie, and CareZone can lend a hand in helping seniors and their caregivers set up alerts for taking pills as well as remind you when it’s time to refill prescriptions and when you have upcoming doctor’s appointments.

Order Groceries

While quick, packaged meals save seniors time when it comes to preparing food to eat each day, they are notoriously unhealthy. For example, one frozen lasagna entree may have over half of your recommended daily allotment of sodium in one serving. Same goes for some canned foods, processed meats, and cereals.

Accessing fresh, whole foods can be a challenge for seniors who can’t always get transportation to the grocery store. That’s where online grocery delivery services like Instacart and Amazon Prime Now can help. Seniors can order the groceries they want online and have them delivered straight to their door. More nutritious meal options can make a huge difference in your own health (and your waistline!).

Set Up Your Medical ID

Did you know you can securely store important health information in your smartphone? In the case of an emergency, if you are hurt or ill and unable to speak with emergency workers, they are often trained to check your smartphone for important personal and health data including:

  • Birthdate
  • Known health conditions
  • Weight
  • Blood Type
  • Allergies
  • Emergency contact number

Both iPhones and Androids now come with “Health” applications where you can enter this information and it can be accessed from your lock screen by emergency personnel without having to enter a passcode. It’s essentially like a clearer, more informative “medical ID bracelet”.

Make Money

Is financial stress taking a toll on your emotional wellbeing? Sticking to a budget in retirement is a stark reality for many seniors, as is continuing to work into your 70s or finding part-time jobs to supplement social security income. Technology can come in handy in this respect, helping seniors earn extra cash from the comfort of their own home.

Seniors can list and sell nicer, gently-used items online with sites like eBay, Facebook Marketplace, or Craigslist. You can also teach lessons or tutor a child via live video chat or set up a work-from-home consulting business contracting with clients in the industry in which you spent your career. Helpful tools like laptop desks let you work in bed, in your favorite recliner, standing at the kitchen counter, you name it.

Video Chat with Family

If you are one of the millions of seniors experiencing loneliness, social isolation, anxiety, or depression, your doctor may have recommended getting out more and trying to connect more regularly with friends and family live. If mobility issues or other conditions prevent you from frequently leaving the house, perhaps technology can help you connect with friends and family far away.

Free, digital tools like Skype, Google+ Hangouts, and Facetime allow you to speak with other people over WiFi using your computer or another mobile device with a webcam and speaker. Seniors can see their loved ones essentially face to face which also makes it easier to carry on conversations if you are hard of hearing.

Technology can also equip seniors with tools that indirectly benefit their health, like apps for streaming stress-relieving music (Spotify, Pandora, etc), or usability features like being able to magnify text and brighten screens to better read books, online newspapers, and so forth.

How Do You Rate Your Retirement?

If you were to give the retirement life you have been living to this point a grade – like back in school – would you be looking at an “A” for excellent or a “C” for average or (hopefully not) an “F” for failure? There are a lot of variables – maybe it’s better to go with pass/fail. It’s not always easy to live the retirement of our dreams. I think the bottom line is are you happy with your second act or is there room for improvement? And if there is room for improvement what can you do to raise your grade?

I have been retired full time about five years now. Most readers of LoveBeingRetired are familiar with the story of my fall from grace in the tech start-up world that left me prematurely job free well before anticipated. Sometimes you have to accept harsh reality which for me was I was too old (at 53!!) to do a worthy job within my chosen career at least according to the hiring powers. I am not bitter (well not overly bitter) but it was an unexpected turn of events to say the least.

Looking back at these years in retirement I find myself reliving a myriad of emotions:

– The fear I was totally unprepared for the decades of “independence” ahead.

– The self-doubt following months spent unsuccessfully trying to get back into the working world.

– The nagging concern over finances.

– Then the glimmer of possibilities as I began getting used to my new lifestyle and actually enjoying it.

– And now the hopeful expectation for all that is still to be.

St. Chapelle spires

Before assigning a grade to my retirement or yours there are a few questions worthy of consideration.

Do you find meaning in your life? Many find their justification for being in the job they do. Once separated from that daily endeavor they struggle to find that same feeling of worth.  If you can’t find worthwhile endeavors beyond the job retirement can feel empty. It becomes difficult to motivate yourself to get out of bed each morning – what is the purpose? But if you have reasons, motivations, passions that excite you each day can offer new opportunity. You don’t have to stick to the same road that led you here. Try new things, branch out, cut loose and do what feels good. Finding meaning is very personal and no two paths are exactly the same. How would you rate your current situation?

Do you have plans for the future? I have found having goals keep me moving forward. Retirement need not be the end of aspirations. Glen Frey of the Eagles said, “People don’t run out of dreams; people run out of time.” Retirement offers precious time to do what you want to do. Whether your passion is travel or learning, reading or writing, painting or singing, the time you need to explore new directions is now yours. What do you see yourself doing tomorrow? Next month? Next year?

What would you change about your situation? Back in the day we worked hard to earn those all-important “A” grades. It makes sense that it takes similar effort to boost our retirement rating to an honor roll worthy level. And while a report card full of “A”s as a student may have been awesome a stellar retirement rating means you are on track to live the best second act possible. Are there areas requiring attention to realize the best retirement possible? Can you fine tune your lifestyle to increase the likelihood of living a fulfilling retired life?

What are the best things about being retired? Sometimes life feels a bit heavy as we strive to address various challenges such as aging or unwelcome money issues or living without clear direction or struggling with boredom. Occasionally we may find that old Ben Franklin comparison of pluses versus minuses tipping in the wrong direction. As an inveterate optimist I typically see the glass half full. I have found worrying has no impact on the outcome of events. No matter how I fret good things and bad things happen. Why not face the future like Frank Sinatra who sang “The best is yet to come.” And those best of moments are sometimes found in the least likely of circumstances.

What are your plans for your continuing education? Just because we haven’t been to class for years does not mean we are no longer capable of learning. With the free time retirees enjoy the opportunity presents itself to pursue areas that interest us rather than are required of us. Your second act can be the right time to learn more about what you love without the stress of final exams. Put that mind to work. Keep yourself engaged and challenged. You are never done learning.

Are you happy? At the end of the day when you glance into the mirror do you see a smiling face looking back? If you do, give yourself an “A” for making your retirement work. That is what is all about right, finding happiness and fulfillment and enjoyment each day. Whatever path you discover, whatever steps and missteps you take, wherever your journey leads you if when it is all said and done you feel positively about how your time is being spent you are doing just fine. As a matter of a fact, feel free to do more of the same!

Each of us has the power to influence the quality of our retired life. With some work hopefully we can improve a less-than-stellar grade to something closer to an “A”. Why settle for average when you can be excellent. When you think about it, now that you are retired is there a more worthy focus for your attention?