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Basic Information


Retirement literally means "withdrawal from one's position or occupation or from active working life," according to Webster's Dictionary. The term is typically used to describe a time in people's lives when they definitively stop working to earn a living.

Retirement is essentially a life transition; just one of many life transitions that people must make throughout the course of their lives. Life transitions involve a passage from one state of affairs to another. Some transitions in life are relatively minor, such as graduating from one elementary school grade into another, while others are earth-shatteringly large, such as when a spouse, parent or child dies. Life may be better after a transition occurs, or worse, depending on the circumstances of the transition, and how the result is perceived. All transitions have the potential to be stressful events, irrespective of whether they are experienced as beneficial or harmful.

Any transition begins with...

Fast Facts: Learn! Fast!

What is retirement?

  • The term Retirement is typically used to describe a time in people's lives when they definitively stop working to earn a living.
  • Retirement is essentially a life transition; just one of many life transitions that people must make throughout the course of their lives.
  • Retirement brings about significant changes to people's identity, income and way of life.
  • The reality of retirement - the loss of work identity - can come as a shock to people who have not really understand just how deeply they have become identified with their work.
  • Some people find the idea of retirement to be freeing and exciting. Other people, however, find that thoughts of retirement and the end of work lead to anxiety, depression and fear.
  • There are several types of retirement that may occur and each retirement type carries with it different feelings and transition experiences. These include traditional retirement, partial retirement, and forced retirement.

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What are the stages of retirement?

  • While each person will experience retirement and the period of retirement transition in different ways, there are common pathways and stages that most people will typically go through.
  • Robert Atchley's six stage conceptualization, as described in, "Social Forces and Aging" offers a description of these stages.
  • Stage #1 - Pre-Retirement - this preliminary stage involves undertaking the planning work necessary to support make retirement a realistic possibility.
  • Stage #2 - Retirement - whether a person has experienced the luxury of pre-retirement contemplation or has been forced to retire by circumstance, a day ultimately comes when it is time to leave the workplace and not return. There are three different paths or styles that people typically take as they make this transition, which include Honeymooners, Routiners, and Relaxers.
  • Stage #3 - Disenchantment - a period of disenchantment with retirement tends to follow the honeymoon, routine or relaxation phases characteristic of initial retirement.
  • Stage #4 - Reorientation - after a period of rest and relaxation, honeymooning or disenchantment, it is common for retirees to review their retirement expectations and goals.
  • Stage #5 - Retirement Routine - if all goes well during the reorientation phase of retirement, retirees are able to establish a new and rewarding retirement routine that will help guide their daily lives for some indefinite period of time.
  • Stage #6 - End of Retirement - the way many retirees see it, their retirement ends when they do, with their death. However, retirement may end prior to personal death with the onset of a new life crisis (another life transition).

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What advance planning should I do in order to have a successful retirement?

  • The first, and the most important retirement topic involves your finances.  If you haven't done retirement planning at an earlier age, you may find that your finances don't allow you to retire!
  • The second topic to consider is your identity and how it will almost certainly change with retirement. Just as you lose your association with work when you retire, you also lose those parts of work, which supported your sense of self and lifestyle, necessitating that you form a new identity for yourself.
  • The third aspect of life affected by retirement is friendships. Many friendships are forged by proximity. As people leave the workplace and/or move to a new home with the onset of retirement, existing friendships can be lost, necessitating the formation of new friendships.
  • The fourth aspect of your life affected by retirement decisions involves couple relationships, and your relationships with children.
  • The fifth topic to think about is the daily schedule as many people find the loss of daily structure and routine provided by the necessity of working for a living to be difficult.
  • The sixth area of life affected by retirement is insurance as the majority of people with insurance coverage have it through their employer.
  • Legal issues constitute a seventh aspect to consider in your retirement planning. There are multiple legal issues you should explore.
  • An eighth and final topic to consider when thinking about retirement involves your living situation, which includes where you will live, the type of housing you will occupy, and the level of assistance you may require in order to manage any illnesses or disabilities which may occur.

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What can life look like after retirement?

  • Identifying your new path in life will help to ease your transition. It is now time for you to make choices and decisions, and to thoughtfully consider what your new retirement life routines will look like.
  • Retirees who are at a loss for what to do with their lives should think about their strengths and interest areas as they consider their options.
  • There are a wide variety of paths or directions that retirees may ultimately decide upon.
  • In addition to increasing time spent traveling or visiting with family (particularly with adult children and grandchildren) , or simply spent relaxing in unstructured activity, retirees may choose to go back to school, start a new career, become an active volunteer in community organizations, and immerse themselves in hobbies or recreational activities

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Related Topics

Aging & Geriatrics
Elder Care