transitioning into retirement

While the transition into retirement can be an exciting time for people, it can also be a stressful period. On the Holmes-Rahe Stress Inventory, a “life events scale” used by psychologists, retirement ranks as the 10th most stressful life event you can experience, coming right behind having a major illness.

In 2012, when Clyde Herring began planning for her retirement from her work at the New York City Baha’i office, she cleaned out her home and began to downsize. No longer needing her three-bedroom apartment, Herring moved into a one-bedroom apartment in the Friedrichs Residence, a senior independent living residence at Wartburg in Mt. Vernon.

“As a single parent, working full-time, moving through responsibilities and throngs of New York City souls, I barely had time to pray before I caught that morning train. The anchor was my ‘to-do list’. Since I retired, this list, like me, has been transformed, and [has] acquired a new life,” states Herring about her retirement transition.

Even though Herring worked full-time, she remained active in Mt. Vernon: serving as the chairperson of the Baha’is of Mt. Vernon, being a member of the Mt. Vernon Women’s Service League, and teaching arts/crafts for children at the public library. In her retirement, she has been able to spend more time on these activities and also lends a hand at the adult day program at Wartburg.

“The people that I notice in retirement who were actively involved in their community before they retired, continue to be actively involved,” states Herring. As a retiree, it can be easy to become socially isolated. Herring stays busy at Wartburg taking a weekly fitness class, doing yoga, and playing Scrabble with neighbors.

Herring thinks that one should “try and keep doing the regular activities in your life as long as you can.” She still loves cooking, making art, and entertaining at home. As Herring suggests, “Retirement is, if you choose, a time to continue to learn and to grow.”

Some Tips for Transitioning to Retirement:

  • Consider downsizing. Moving to a smaller home or discarding unnecessary possessions can free up time and money.
  • Prepare financially by paying off debt and working with a financial planner. According to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), you should add up your monthly income from pensions, Social Security, 401K and IRA savings and investments. If monthly expenses exceed monthly income, you might need to retire later.
  • Figure out what you would like to do during retirement. Both men and women are expected to live 15-20 years after the typical retirement age of 65. According to the American Psychological Association, working or volunteering during retirement can prevent depression, dementia and hypertension by giving a person purpose and increasing their physical activity. Being active also helps people maintain social connections.
  • Take charge of your health. Schedule medical exams, exercise regularly, and eat well.
  • Be open to making new friends and socialize as much as possible.
  • Spend time with your family. For most people, children and grandchildren can be a great comfort and help during retirement.
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