Q: I will be retiring within the year. I should be able to live comfortably since I have made wise financial investments. The decision to retire was still a difficult one, so much of life has revolved around my career. Most of my close personal relationships are with people at my job. I am worried about becoming isolated and feeling disconnected. How can I go about creating a new sense of belonging?
A: Your question brings to mind so many people I know who have retired over the last few years. Some individuals jump into this new phase of life with such gusto they wonder why they didn’t do it sooner. Others feel lost for a period of time because, like you, their life was centered on their previous occupation — in other words the job defined who they were. The financial aspect of retirement is naturally important. What people may not always think about ahead of time is the important of the personal side of being a retiree.
I can relate the success stories of two people who have found purpose in their life after retirement and look forward to every new opportunity that comes their way. Both of these retirees left their jobs but they certainly didn’t “retire” from life. They realized they now had the time to focus on the interests they always had but found it difficult to fit them into their previous schedules. Hobbies became their new passion and fulfillment. They found this was not only an enjoyment but they were really good at what they were doing. In a way this helped to create a new “identity.”
Meeting new people will be a priority for you. Church groups, senior centers, garden clubs and book clubs may be an option to find compatible people. Look into Life Long Learning Courses, to enhance your knowledge about certain subjects or to fine tune a skill. Stay active by joining a senior exercise group. If you have always wanted to travel, find out if tours are offered for older adults.
While you may no longer actually be working, there may be opportunities for you to volunteer and share time with others. Think about becoming a mentor for people who could benefit from the skills you had in your profession.
Are you struggling caring for an older adult or having difficulty locating resources? Our staff is available for a no-cost consultation, set up at your convenience, to help guide you through your caregiving experience. For more details or to schedule an appointment, please call 800-892-0890.
Do you have a question? We encourage inquiries and comments from our readers. Please direct your correspondence to firstname.lastname@example.org or Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley, Inc., Age Information Department, 280 Merrimack Street, Suite 400, Lawrence, MA 01843. Joan Hatem-Roy is the Chief Executive Officer of Elder Services.