My father just retired and has too much time on his hands. The psychological effects of retirement.
Retirement brings with it a lot of new experiences and psychological challenges that are in themselves unique, resulting in the retiree feeling overwhelmed and lost. In this blog we will be exploring some psychological challenges that your parent can face when they begin retirement. In the following blog we will explore how you can support your elderly parent in their retirement.
Loss of identity
Retirement brings with it a new identity and the loss of another. If the person has identified themselves all their life by the type of work that they do, or their job title, it can be a harsh reality to accept they will no longer be able to identify by that title anymore. Instead, they have the identity of a retiree.
Retirement can also influence the role the person has in the family unit. If it’s a man who has been the main breadwinner for the family, it can be a challenge to no longer be the main financial support for the family. This can be particularly challenging if their partner is still working.
If the person is not resilient, and does not have healthy coping mechanisms, such identity crises can lead to a higher risk of stress, anxiety and depression.
Loss of work/life balance and routine
Apart from a loss of identity, retirement brings with a change to daily routines and structures. There is no longer a need to wake up early to get ready for work. This can be freeing at the beginning of retirement, especially if the person did not enjoy going to work. However, over time, this satisfaction and relief can wear off, resulting in thoughts such as “Now what?” and “What do I do with all this time?”. Some might experience having too many options to choose from, while others might question their ability to make the correct decisions on what they should do.
Changes in friendship groups and social activities
Retirement also brings with it a change in social networks. After leaving work, communication with colleagues they used to see on a daily basis will diminish, and with it comes the risk of loneliness and lack of social connections. If the person revolved their life around work, he or she is at a higher risk of facing such challenges.
Retirement brings with it lots of changes, but also lots of new opportunities. In this blog we explored the psychological changes that it can bring along, namely challenges in defining one’s identity, changes in day to day routines and changes in social circles. In the next blog, we will explore how you as their son or daughter can support them to overcome these psychological challenges to live a healthy and happy life.
If you think that you can benefit from professional support on this issue you can reach out here.
Petra Borg is a Trainee Gestalt Psychotherapist currently reading for a Masters in Gestalt Psychotherapy from the Gestalt Therapy Institute Malta (GPTIM) and working at Willingness as a Trainee Psychotherapist. She has experience as a Triage Officer and has also worked closely with Willingness over several years, coordinating the international internship programme and providing support over diverse events and initiatives.
Morin, A. (2020). 8 tips for adjusting to retirement. Verywell Mind. https://www.verywellmind.com/tips-for-adjusting-to-retirement-4173709
Osborne, J.W. (2012). Psychological effects of the transition to retirement. Canadian Journal of Counselling and Psychotherapy, 46(1). https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ969555.pdf
Robinson, L., & Smith, M. (2021). Adjustment to retirement: Handling the stress and anxiety. HelpGuide. https://www.helpguide.org/articles/aging-issues/adjusting-to-retirement.htm
Lawrence, K. (n.d.). Helping parents avoid depression. When they get older.co.uk. https://whentheygetolder.co.uk/health/mental-health/active-minds/helping-parents-to-avoid-depression/