Retirement Stress


What to do when you retire?

STATS re retirement stress

Early retirement is supposed to give you extra golden years to enjoy. New research suggests that this is not the case.
The following information appeared in the online British Medical Journal (Oct. 20, 2005): —
A research study of Shell Oil employees showed that people who retire at age 55 and live to be at least 65 die sooner than people who retire at 65.

  • After age 65, the early retirees have a 37% higher risk of death than counterparts that retired at 65.
  • People who retire at 55 are 89% more likely to die in the 10 years after retirement than those who retire at 65.
    In 2007 a study of 16000 Greeks showed that retirees were 51% more likely to die during the follow up period than employees of the same age (excluding those who had been previously diagnosed with serious illnesses).
    In 2009 an even larger study of Germans showed that too little stress might be an even bigger killer than heightened stress levels.
  • There is a large incidence of clinical depression in retired people. Some of it can be ascribed to decreased income, worsening health, loss of position and status, lack of purpose, meaning or interest, and loneliness.
  • If you are less active and sit around all day, it results in increased difficulty in mobility (5-16%).
  • The less social interaction you have, the more it harms your mental health.
    • Mental health issues, including stress, anxiety, and depression are the reasons for one in five visits to the GP.

Doom and gloom

In my opinion one of the biggest challenges of retirement is being in your spouse’s company the whole day, interfering in the other’s domain, maybe causing more work for the homebody expecting meals to be provided, messing up their routine, or physically in the way when they have ‘things to do’, possibly causing a greater level of disorganization that is no longer tenable by either or both parties, issues that you could sweep under the rug before when the other went to work now blatantly stare you in the face the whole day, bad vibes can get worse, and so on.

The other big challenge of course is that if you were married to your role and position, it can be a rude awakening when this is no longer the case and you feel redundant, unwelcome in your own home, unproductive, and useless to a large degree. Especially if you have not found anything to replace the time you spent at work like a hobby, or a project, mission, or passion to keep you busy in your retirement years.

Bright side

Not all has to be doom and gloom.  Many people take up hobbies, go hiking, learn a new language, read books, travel extensively, and start an exercise routines once they have the time, freedom and the money to do so. Others join clubs, do volunteer-work, or consult.  Some even re-invent themselves and do something completely different, because they can, going from engineering to massage or art or other alternative pursuits.