Living with grandkids, feeling like you’ve lost your identity, and having to find new work are all common challenges for seniors.
Reaching retirement can be a bittersweet moment. Some people find it’s been a long, hard road and they’re happy to leave paid work life behind to fend for itself in the dust.
For others, there’s a feeling of resentment. Being forced to give up too early is something they don’t want. Some find that rewarding careers are hard to leave and the idea of using the day to do something else-anything else-is hard to swallow.
Sound familiar? Here are 5 surprises that may await you in retirement and how to deal with them:
1) You Don’t Stop Working
We’re putting the negative first, here. Many people will retire and never worry about working a day in their life, again. Plenty of others though, will make the painful discovery that they haven’t saved enough money to get them through the hardships of their later years.
The result? They’re back at work.
An increasing number of seniors are finding that they’re paying off debt. In fact, back in 1992 about 25% of all homeowners over the age of 62 were still paying off their mortgage, but that figure rose to a whopping 45% in 2010.
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It may likely be different work that you’re doing if you need to get back to earning a regular paycheck.
2) You’re Not Sure of Your Identity (A Dancer Dies Twice)
In an article published by Altantic.com, Wendy Whelan of the New York City Ballet tells her story of retiring from dancing in her 40’s as her body grew older. A dancer, she said, dies twice: first when they have to stop dancing and then at the end of life. The first death, says Whelan, is harder.
Admittedly, she can’t really say this reliably without having lived out the second challenge, but what is certain is the fact that many people, including those who dance, love their work. Having to stop doing it can be extremely hard, boring and for some, depressing.
The reasons for this are complex but part of this is due to the fact that many successful people build at least a portion of their identity around their job. Once that’s gone, the remaining void begs the question, who am I?
Experts recommend planning for your emotional safety in retirement just as much as your economic well being.
Build and place importance on friendships in your life long before you retire. This may sound trivial to some, but it’s a biggie.
Commit yourself to hobbies you find interesting as life goes on, creating a part of daily life that will continue with you, whether your career is going full tilt or not.
Also take the time to envision how you can make your days fulfilling in retirement long before it comes. Find ways to volunteer that you can build upon when you stop going to work, or plan a large independent project that will continue with you as long as you wish.
3) You’re Living With Family
You might not have ever thought you’d be living with the grandkids, but there you have it. A tough job market, loads of debt and medical crisis have transformed many American homes into multi-generational buildings. It can be a great experience, but it can also be stressful.
Check out these tips on how to co-exist happily and not roll into an early grave filled with infant formula and baby diapers.
4) You Actually Like Your Retirement Community
Some people jump at the chance to sell their home, downsize and move into an established retirement community.
Others cringe at the very thought. But here’s the deal. If you have the chance to do it, remember that in a community just for seniors, you don’t have to deal with your teenage grandson’s music, the stress of being alone all day, or any kind of cooking.
You might hate the idea of strawberry socials and community movie nights but keep in mind, there could be some advantages, beyond the stereotypes.
5) You Finally Have Time to Be an Artist (or Body Builder)
Those who are fortunate enough to be able to retire relatively worry-free with plenty of money, now find there’s a lot of free time. What to do?
While it could take some courage, don’t be afraid to dive in and try something you’ve always wanted to do. No excuses. If you fail, it doesn’t matter and if you succeed, all the better. The best part is that while doing both, you’ll have fun.
Some inspiration: Grandma Moses didn’t start painting until she was in her 70’s and this woman, who is now in the Guinness Book of World Records, started body building at a later age. It might feel scary at first, but by reviving an old passion, (or a new one), you could be rewarded with new horizons to chase.
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Photo credits: onephoto/Bigstock; dolgachov/Bigstock; AndreyPopov/Bigstock