Retirement on one hand is welcome but on the other the thought of living out one’s retirement years is overwhelming. Your choice of action and attitude can make all the difference. Here’s why
When 60-year-old Nagaraju P realised his retirement date was nearing he was perplexed. After having worked every single day of his life for the last 40 years, this central government employee could not fathom a life without a job. Fiercely independent and used to providing for his family, Nagaraju had forgotten that one day he’d be the one his children would be looking after. For the better part of his life, his job took up most of his day. But after retirement he simply didn’t know what to do with all his free time. “Although he had us around, it was not enough. He needed to keep himself busy and this lack of a hectic routine really got to him. He would get extremely irritable and would snap for the silliest of reasons. We tried to perk up his mood, but nothing helped. Eventually he sank into depression and is currently under treatment,” says Nagaraju’s daughter, Avantika.
While most people dream of the day they will retire and be free of responsibilities, there are a few who sorely miss their routines and find it hard to settle for a retired life. “Elderly people are caught up in the current times of socio cultural transition. Retirement in the past was a stage of fulfillment, enjoying the toils of the past. Unfortunately these days elderly people seem to go through various issues after retirement. I do see several clients with post retirement problems ranging from retirement blues to severe depression. Psychologically it is a state of not having any work to do. Reduction in income, loss of role at work place and unfortunately in the current nuclear family setting the role of retired is diminishing. This leads to reduction in self esteem and anxiety. There might be financial issues and also issues about the place of their stay. Conflict with children and with their spouses can precipitate issues of depression,” says Dr Praveen Kumar Chintapanti, psychiatrist and director, Tranquil Minds.
He adds, “Depression in elderly can manifest as low mood, lack of energy, lack of interest in activities they used to enjoy earlier, irritability, reduction in concentration and memory. Sleep and appetite disturbances are very common. Some might present with apprehension and fear, palpitation. There are occasions when this depression is not treated these clients can contemplate suicide.”
Given the rat race and increasing number of nuclear families these days, most people who retire prefer to keep themselves occupied and not just become complacent. “When I realised that my retirement date was nearing I was extremely apprehensive. For so many years I was used to juggling work and home life and not to mention the attractive pay packet. But when I finally retired last month I knew that I would miss my office, colleagues and of course the salary at the end of each month,” says Ramadevi Subramanian, a former customer service executive.
“Each person reacts differently to retirement, there is a general sense of loss of identity. After having worked for more than 30 years or so suddenly having to retire is a huge overnight change. They suddenly go from being the provider to being the receiver. A lot also depends on how well prepared the person is for this role transition,” explains Dr Siva Prasad, professor of psychiatry at Osmania Medical College.
While Ramadevi is happy that she now has time for herself, she is looking forward to doing some consulting work on a freelance basis. “It will keep me occupied and I could use the money too. As of now, I’m just soaking up the pleasures of retired life – taking a nap when I want to, spending time with my grandkids, running the house the way I’d like to etc. But I know I can’t do this for long. I need to do some kind of constructive work. After all how much television can I watch,” she says.
The best way to handle it is plan the retirement much earlier, have some arrangements for retirement, i.e place of stay, travelling between children, secure financial status. Finding a job or a nurturing a hobby which can keep one engaged can help too.
Things you can do after retirement
- Develop a habit of going for a walk.
- Get your periodic health checks.
- Eat healthily, never neglect your sleep, ensure you get 6 to 8 hrs of sleep per day.
- Avoid drinking alcohol to excess and stop smoking.
- Ensure that you are compliant with your treatment for medical illness you are suffering from.
- Should there be signs of depression seek help immediately.