Dealing with Isolation After you Leave your Job

Written by Louise Nayer

As I walked down the serpentine road of City College of San Francisco, going to class, I always met students and colleagues. Some students would shyly walk past me as I smiled; others would say “Hi Professor Nayer!” and sometimes we would hug each other.

Faculty and staff, many whom I had known for over twenty years would stop and we would chat about children, grandchildren, classes, illnesses, deaths, and births. So many little chats over so many years.

When we retire, we lose those voices. Many of those we talked to we will not see again. How do we continue to be engaged with people when we leave our work places? Even though people can never be replaced, how do we create a new community? Many studies point out that human connection is by far the biggest marker of happiness. Older people who have left the workplace can feel isolated without that constant connection to people at work. Some get depressed and feel their life is meaningless. However, there are myriad ways to plan so you can have a retirement connected to others.

Before I left my teaching job, I knew I wanted to write, so I joined the San Francisco Writer’s Grotto. I rented an office space two days a week and knew I would have a place to go with a writing community. Was it easy? Not at all. At first when I joined The Grotto, I looked around at all the strange faces. Where were my friends? I felt lonely, disconnected, like walking into a new middle school and wondering if I would be liked or say the wrong thing. But slowly, that changed. Now, years later, I love this new community. I’m excited to wake up on my Grotto days and see my friends. Others, like my husband, go back to their place of work one or two days a week, to volunteer or to work part-time.

It is important to be patient with yourself and realize adjustments take time, as you find a good volunteer opportunity, a class at a nearby community college, a gym with exercise classes, a garden club or a hiking club or whatever you fancy. If you are not a very social person, it’s important to force yourself to have face-face lunches, dinners, and connections to people, along with email and phone calls!

For some, having more time with children and grandchildren gives people that needed engagement to others. My friend Dixie and her husband moved from California to Ashland so they could help their daughter who had twins. Was the move easy? No. Packing up a home full of memories and leaving the state where you have lived most of your adult life can be daunting and terrifying. But over time, they are both thrilled that they moved. They love Ashland for all it has to offer, and they help their daughter with the twins every week.

It can take a few years to settle into “retirement” and figure out ways to surround yourself with people you care about. But there is no void. There are always ways to connect—from tutoring at the local school, to volunteering to helping students write college entrance essays, to hiking clubs or to a sick or disabled neighbor who needs help with groceries. You’ll also have time to call family members or old friends who you haven’t seen for a long time.

Pets can be wonderful, too. My husband and I got a puppy that is now one year old. It has been a very challenging year as we are 68 and 74 and a puppy has endless energy. But now, our dog, Ella, a member of the family, has many moments of sprawling next to us on the couch. Pets can offer great solace, plus in walking dogs you get to meet your neighbors.

Finding a new community or filling your day with connections to others might be challenging at first, but over time and with some effort, everyone can find wonderful ways to reach out and engage with others.

Louise Nayer’s latest book, Poised for Retirement: Moving from Anxiety to Zen, part memoir and part-self help, is a guide to emotional planning before and after retirement. Many fears surface during this pivotal time and the book  includes interviews, expert wisdom and calming techniques. Her previous book, Burned: A Memoir, was an Oprah Great Read. She is a member of the San Francisco Writer’s Grotto.

Revive Your Retirement

In the beginning entering retirement is a glorious adventure. How incredibly liberating it is to finally have time to do all you have wanted to. It feels wonderful to live at a pace you are comfortable with rather than one dictated by others. Days can be filled with activities you enjoy, hobbies you choose to revisit, and an endless variety of new things to explore. What could be better?

And yet some find sustaining a fulfilling fun retirement is not so easy. After a year or so spent catching up on travel dreams and reconnecting with friends and family and whittling down that to-do-list and taking a second look at hobbies of yore, that initial excitement can begin to wear off. What next? What do I do to find meaning in my days?

Keeping your retirement fresh and interesting is a full time job. You cannot laze your way through if you want to make the most of your second act.

Get a Job (you like)

I am not suggesting you jump back into the mad working fray you so recently escaped. Rather, imagine a role you would enjoy at a company you respect doing something that brings a smile to your face. Such a place does exist – you just have to find it.

Create the blueprint of your perfect job. Figure out how many hours you would like to work. Factor in your commute or if possible avoid that time sink completely. Make a list of those things you do not want to do and avoid those situations. Reach out to your professional as well as personal network to share what you are looking for. As you know many jobs are never listed but rather filled by someone who knows someone.

Don’t settle for less than what you deserve. You have paid your dues. Those days of stress and struggle are behind. Take your time, consider your options, and do your diligence before you make your move. And remember if it does not work out you do not have to stick with it.

This time around don’t settle until you find a job you like/enjoy/look forward to.

Set Free the Creative You

Each of us is creative in his/her own way. It’s just some of us push that creativity down inside us rather than unleash it. Whether we resist expressing our talents because we are shy or afraid or lack confidence or are simply hiding, if we dig down it is there. Not all of us can be a Da Vinci or Hemingway but so what. You do not have to impress anyone.

The thing about creativity is it seeks an outlet. You can only deny your inner self so long. Write a book or a play or a short story or a poem. Compose a song. Paint a landscape. Start a garden. Remodel a room. Rehabilitate an old car. Try something new not because you have to but because you choose to.

Expand your Mind

Would you be interested in learning more about a topic that excites you? Going “back to school” when you retire is a whole new ballgame. Firstly with all the online offerings you don’t necessarily have to go to a classroom. This time around there will be no exams, no competition to be the best, no deadlines to deliver. You can work at a pace you choose. You “study” when you want to. And if you lose interest along the way you are free to move onto something new.

Retirees find themselves removed from the demanding world they knew, a positive in many ways. But without that routine requiring us to think and engage it is easy to lose your edge and find your senses dulled. Exercise that brain to stay on top of your game.

Be Wild and Crazy

Retirement offers a chance to step outside the box you have lived within all these years. No one is watching – do what you want. And even in someone is watching, so what! Dance in the street if the mood strikes you. Color your hair or your nails or your lips anyway you want. Sing, laugh, dance, enjoy – if not now, when? As a sage Forrest Gump might venture, “crazy is as crazy does.”

Record your story

Many are interested in understanding the people and places that constitute their personal history. Ancestry.com and other sites help dig up facts and faces to better understand where we came from. But the best source of accurate information for future generations is stored in our individual memories. No one knows better the minute details that make up the life we have lived. Who can more vividly paint a picture of the environment and times, the hopes and challenges, the happiness and tears than someone who has experienced them first hand. Imagine a descendant reading your story a hundred years from now, reliving those times that tie you together forever.

Our second act can be the best time of our lives. Revive your retirement by trying new things. None of us wants to miss out on a once in a lifetime opportunity when it comes our way.

LoveBeingRetired.com

5 Signs that You Need Senior Care

Written by Thomas Boyd

We, seniors, value independence above anything else, so much so that sometimes we find the prospect of asking for help intimidating. There’s nothing wrong with asking for help when you find even the most mundane tasks challenging. Realizing that you need help and coming to terms with that realization is the first step towards an easier life.

According to the Congressional Budget Office article published in 2013, as much as one-third of people aged over 65 need some form of assistance with daily activities. However, we are often reluctant to ask our closest ones for help, let alone accept it. You might not come to the realization that you need help until you begin to find even things like dressing, personal hygiene, shopping or cooking extremely difficult and tiresome.

Sooner than later you might start forgetting to take your pills, wish your family members a happy birthday, getting distracted in traffic and forgetting about your routines. Then you might find yourself distracted in traffic or while walking. That’s when you become a danger to yourself and others.

Admitting you need help can be difficult. But once you do, you’ll realize that you can live your life happily in your own home with a friendly face who’ll be there by your side to remember what you might forget. A lot of good caregiver services like A Better Way in Home Care can refer you to friendly, professional and most importantly compassionate aides.

In this article, we are going to list some situations that might indicate that you need a professional caregiver by your side.

You Have a Fear of Falling
Falling has always been considered one of the biggest risks of old age. In fact, falls result in more than 2.8 million injuries every year, with over 27,000 falls leading to a fatal outcome according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The fear of falling is usually an indication that something is wrong. But the fear can also have a negative effect on your balance and cause the fall itself. The fear can be caused by a traumatizing experience of a previous fall or just during an onset of anxiety. The fear can also develop as a natural reaction to a condition, such as any damage to our balance centers.

Therefore, it helps to have someone by your side watching you as you walk down the stairs or cross the street to go to the market. Whether your fear is irrational or not, having someone by your side just in case can help us regain the confidence.

You Often Feel Lonely
We are more prone to feeling lonely in a late age than any other period in life. A lot of seniors live alone, and 43% of seniors report a frequent feeling of loneliness. The worst part is that seniors who feel lonely are more likely to experience deteriorating health and die earlier.

Even worse is the fact that not everyone knows how to properly help someone coping with these feelings. Lonely people can be difficult to communicate with and get through, so even their family members may turn their back on them.

Fortunately, professional caregivers have enough patience and experience to communicate to a depressed person without pushing too far or giving up on communication. Caregivers can encourage depressed seniors to communicate more, regain contact with their family and are always there whenever you need someone to talk to and share your concerns with.

You Have a Hard Time Deciding on Mundane Things
There are many reasons why we might feel indecisive at a venerable age. The indecisiveness may not always be a result of dementia or other cognitive illnesses, it also stems from the fact that our years change our perception of risk. Ironically, that’s often what causes us to make the wrong decisions that can affect both us and our loved ones.

A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that even highly functional seniors tend to make wrong, often inconsistent and irrational decisions when pressed for time. These decisions are not only related to finances, they can extend to other aspects of life like driving skills.

You Stop Preparing Food and Experience a Weight Loss
We are more likely to experience lack of appetite than younger people. How often did you feel too tired to cook or go grocery shopping? This is more common in seniors than you realize. But a lack of appetite may also indicate a serious health condition, although this is not that frequent.

If you feel too tired to cook, perhaps you should consider hiring a helping hand. Proper nutrition is extremely important, especially at an older age and not getting enough nutrients can cause us to feel chronically weak and tired. Additionally, having someone to share the meal with can improve your appetite.

You Don’t Feel Like Leaving the Home
Do you feel like you suddenly lost the will to go out and socialize with friends or family? Do you catch yourself spending all of your time indoors, stuck to the TV or napping? Closely related to the feeling of loneliness, the lack of will to socialize can really impact our quality of life. This feeling is often associated with depression and is essentially no different than being locked away in a retirement home.


Whether you feel you can no longer drive or you fear to get out in the open, you need someone to help you overcome this obstacle and inspire you to socialize more. A caregiver can keep you company during a walk in the park, a stroll around the neighborhood or a visit to the local senior center for a round of cards.