Are You Retirement Ready?
An Electronic Mental Health Newsletter from Joel I. Kimmel, Ph.D., P.A. & Associates
Volume 12, Number 6
Summer has arrived, school is out, and vacations have started. The weather has been hot and wet and we are now in hurricane season. We take for granted the peacefulness of the summer. But for those of us who were here for Wilma remember how disruptive and scary it was. Worse was Hurricane Andrew in 1992 that virtually destroyed South Miami. We have recovered but let’s not forget the lessons we learned during these two traumatic events. The most important thing we can do is to prepare and hope that we are lucky again this season. Make sure you have enough supplies, especially food, water and batteries, and review one of the hurricane preparedness lists from the Red Cross, rescue.org, or ready.gov. The threat of a hurricane should not be taken lightly. Let us all hope that we will be lucky and have another season without a major hurricane.
Our June E-Letter asks Are You Retirement Ready? Dr. K’s blog continues with its ninth installment and our email of the month is about Contradictory Proverbs. We hope you find the enclosed information helpful and interesting. We also thank you for reading our E-Letters and for the numerous comments and messages of support we have received.
Low Cost Therapy. We are now able to provide lower cost therapy as Tara Passaretti, LMHC, has joined our practice. Tara is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Nationally Board Certified Counselor who has extensive experience working with children and families in private practice and in the court system. While she is being credentialed by the different insurance plans, she is able to provide counseling at a much lower fee. If you are in need of a therapist but do not have insurance or are unable to afford the high copays, Tara would be willing to see you. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call our office at . 954 755-2885.
Testings. If you are concerned about your child’s placement in school, this would be an excellent time to have them evaluated. Typical parent questions have ranged from should their child be retained to whether they are gifted to whether they have a disability that can qualify for accommodations at their school. Our practice does the different types of evaluations to help answer those questions. Information regarding the tests can be found on our website. If you have more specific questions, please contact Dr. Kimmel or Paul Dolnick.
Support groups. Our ongoing weekly therapy groups have been quite successful. A men’s support group and a women’s support group are run by Dr. Jim Kaikobad and meets for one and one-half hours. The group is educational, supportive, and confidential and is limited to 8 people.
Benefits of these groups include significant cost reduction, time effectiveness, and the support and understanding of other members experiencing similar issues. If you or a family member would like to participate in either of these groups, please contact Jillian in our office at 954 755-2885.
Handouts from previous E-Letters can be found on our website, www.KimmelPsychology.com. We invite you to read and download them if desired.
ARE YOU RETIREMENT READY?
We have seen a number of patients in our office recently who have retired but are very unhappy. Some are even depressed as they have gone through a lot of losses and do not know what to do now that they are not working. People tend to look forward to the time they can retire, sleep late, not have to deal with troublesome bosses or co-workers, and being free from the stresses of their jobs. But few plan for what to do after they stop working.
Most people will financially plan and save for life after their retirement. While there may have been a lot of thought and planning into preparing a financial portfolio, few think and plan about how they will handle retirement psychologically. Yet, their happiness, health, and relationships all depend on this critical aspect of how one will deal with not working.
More than 70 million baby boomers will retire in the foreseeable future. Most will be in good health and capable of being productive. New industries will develop to meet the needs of those previously employed. Leisure time pursuits as well as demands on healthcare will increase dramatically. The concept of retirement as just not working anymore will be redefined. Retirement will be more about what one does after one stops working. So what constitutes a healthy retirement?
But first, let’s look at what happens when one retires. Many people go into a depression after they leave work. Often their identity and significance was defined by their job. Leaving a job often means that they lose a sense of who they are. If they were not involved in outside of work organizations, they have nothing to give them a sense of purpose and meaningfulness. They may also lose their power and prestige. Once they may have supervised many employees only to find out that no one listens to them when they are retired. Friendships that may have developed over the years because of working with the same people day in and day out tend to fade away. Social needs which were once fulfilled on the job go unmet. The enjoyment of succeeding at a task or overcoming a stressful situation is also lost. So in retirement, there are many losses.
However, one can handle retirement successfully if it is looked at as a series of transitions rather than losses. Dr. Norman Abeles found that people most happy in retirement continued to live their lives and enjoy a variety of activities including volunteer work, exercise, continuing education, traveling, etc. In a research study, Dr. Nancy Schlossberg found that there were many factors that contribute to helping people make the transition. She theorized that there are basically six ways people approach retirement as follows:
- Continuers are those people who continue to use existing skills and interests
- Adventurers are people who start entirely new endeavors
- Searchers are people who explore new options through trial and error
- Easy Gliders are those who enjoy unscheduled time letting each day unfold
- Involved Spectators are people who care deeply about the world, but engage in less active ways
- Retreaters are those who take time out or disengage from life
Which of these do you want to be? Will you be active and engaged in life or will you drop out, have nothing to do, and be depressed?
To successfully prepare for retirement, ask yourself these questions:
- Who are you and who do you want to be? What do you enjoy? How do you want to be known? What is important to you? What goals can you set for yourself? How can you continue to grow?
- What gives you purpose and meaningfulness? What do you do that gives your life significance? This is more than just keeping busy. This is what makes life important to you. This is what gives you passion. What do you do that gives you a sense of achievement when completed?
- What relationships do you have? Who are your friends? Who do you want to spend time with? What organizations are you involved in? Who are those you wished to see and relate with but never had time? Perhaps, this is a time to resolve old conflicts and strengthen relationships.
- What life goals do you have that you said you would do one day? What is on your bucket list and what stops you from doing them? What did you want to learn one day if you had the time?
Answering the above questions will help you prepare for retirement in much the same way you would financially. Life needs to be seen as a continuing process of growth and evolution. Retirement is not the time to be set out to pasture. Rather, retirement can be an exciting time to establish a new identity, a new purpose, and new relationships. Retirement gives you the time to do them all.
We offer the following information on Are You Retirement Ready?
ARE YOU RETIREMENT READY?
The trouble with retirement is that you never get a day off
WHAT TO KNOW!
- Retirement can be defined as the time when a person stops working completely
- It means the giving up of established relationships, routines, and procedures
- Retirement also involves losing one’s identity, importance to oneself and to others, and for many people, their meaning in life
- While retirement is looked forward to and thought of a singular event, in reality it is a series of transitions
- According to Dr. Nancy Schlossberg, retirement involves many transitions including: the role of family, the role of work, the timing of retirement, how satisfying was work, how much planning went into retirement, one’s expectations about retirement, and the meaningfulness of life
- While work provides a sense of meaning and purpose, it can also fulfill social needs
- Retirement planning includes not only having the financial resources on which to live but also on the activities to enjoy; little time is placed on emotional planning
- People most happy in retirement enjoy a variety of activities, including volunteer work, exercise, continuing education etc.
- Research has shown that newly retired women tend to be more depressed than already retired or working women especially if their husbands are employed
- Research has also shown that newly retired men whose wives are working have higher marital conflict than newly retired men with non-working wives
- Many retired couples also find that they are spending more time together and too much togetherness can cause conflict
- Many people prepare financially for retirement but not psychologically
- Dr. Schlossberg theorizes six general approaches to retirement:
- Continuers who continue using existing skills and interests
- Adventurers who start entirely new endeavors
- Searchers who explore new options through trial and error
- Easy Gliders who enjoy unscheduled time letting each day unfold
- Involved Spectators care deeply about the world, but engage in less active ways
- Retreaters who take time out or disengage from life
- To best enjoy retirement, get involved and stay involved
WHAT TO DO!
- Understand that retirement is not an endpoint but a transition
- Define your identity and strengthen it
- Develop new relationships to replace the ones lost at work
- Find meaningful activities that give your life purpose
- Stay active, volunteer, take courses, learn new skills
- Consider working at another job
- Have realistic expectations
- Seek professional help if you find yourself depressed and unable to adjust to retirement
WE CAN HELP!
Call us at 954 755-2885 or email us at DrKimmel@KimmelPsychology.com
Joel I. Kimmel, Ph.D. P.A. and Associates
5551 N University Drive, Suite 202
Coral Springs FL 33067
Copyright © 2017 by Joel I. Kimmel, Ph.D.
Dr. K’s Blog
June 20, 2017
This month marks the ninth month since my wife has passed. I still find it hard to believe that she is gone. I think of her frequently and remember many of the great moments we had together. I still expect her to be home when I get home or to pick up the phone and hear her voice. Some days I think I am getting closer to acceptance and other times, it is as painful as the first day.
This is the time of the year when we planned our vacation. I always looked forward to traveling with her which we did every year since we got married. Now vacationing doesn’t really interest me. I do not want to travel by myself yet there is no one I want to go anywhere with. I will visit others but do not look forward to going on any adventure vacations we used to have, by myself. I am sure I will come up with something.
I continue to take yoga classes and feel her presence especially when I let go. There are times at home when I let myself relax and be open that I also feel her presence. I can’t describe it and it is not in words but somehow I know she is there. I am sure she is visiting me and I feel great comfort when this happens. Yet I know that I still have great hurt. I hope that it will heal in time.
May 20, 2017
This is a hard entry to write.
It was a difficult month for me as my wife’s absence was highlighted due to several events.
I was out of the country for two and one-half weeks. Before I left, I did all the preparing and packing. But, we used to do it together. I would usually bring home a present for her but not this time. And when I got home, she wasn’t there for me to share my experiences. I just missed her more.
This was also the first Mother’s Day without her. Again, I could not make it special for her. She was on my mind all day. This was difficult for my children which made it even more difficult for me. Not only do I hurt but so do they and we all miss her.
We also had a Bat Mitzvah to attend. This was the first family event without her and she was missed by all. It just didn’t seem the same without her. How does one participate in a joyous moment when they are grieving?
Finally, the school where my wife opened, developed, and ran the Media Center held a dedication for her. They named the library after her and posted her picture and her favorite quote above the entrance. Colleagues she worked with and former students shared their memories of her. My family and I endowed a legacy award to be given each year in her name to a student who loves to read. The dedication was beautiful and it was very significant to hear how she affected the lives of so many and the future of her students. She would be happy to know that many of her students love books and love to read all because of her love for reading. Her presence was everywhere.
So I have great pride but it is mixed with missing her greatly.
April 17, 2017
I don’t know if time really does help but the pain is not as intense or as frequent. There are moments of intensity where I really miss Jill but they are less frequent. Maybe I am just coming to terms with her being gone. Maybe it’s what we call resilience. Or maybe I am just used to being alone.
Do I miss her? Yes greatly. But not as desperately as before. I think I am just getting used to being on my own. Spring has brought many firsts. For the first time in fifty years, she was not at our Seders. She is not here to plan our summer trips. She is not here to celebrate the birthdays.
But I believe she is with us in spirit. In fact, I don’t know how to explain this, but I have felt her presence. I cannot put it into words as it is just a feeling but I do believe she is with me and that I feel comforting. I miss her greatly but I am determined to go on for myself, for my children, for my extended family, and for my patients. She would want nothing less.
March 20, 2017
First, I would like to thank all of you who read this blog and have been moved to reach out to me. People who I have not seen or spoken to in decades have sent me their heartfelt wishes and their personal memories of my wife. She had a great, beautiful impact on people and she truly had a well lived life.
I question myself sometimes whether I should put my personal experiences out there yet I hope that by reading what I am going through, others can be helped. Our society does not prepare us to deal with the death of loved ones. So in some small way, maybe I can help.
As time passes, the grieving continues. It has changed a bit but there are moments which are still very difficult. The most difficult part now of the grieving process is the loneliness. It is over six months now and I still have difficulty in accepting that she is gone. I still expect her to walk through the door or see her curled up in her favorite position reading a book. But I painfully know that will never happen again.
The house is big and empty without her. I find myself filling my time with chores just to keep busy but when I am alone, it hurts. I miss her and our lives together. I feel so powerless that I cannot bring back those days. We think we are in so much control of our lives. And we are for some things, but for the most part, we are not. We just have to accept what is and what will be. Accepting what you don’t want to accept is quite a struggle.
I am dealing with the loneliness by being with friends, taking a yoga class, and seeing my son and daughter. Yet there are always those moments where it truly hurts; words cannot describe it. But what else is there to do? I have been told by others who have lost loved ones that with time, it will get better. I hope they are right.
February 20, 2017
I wish I could say that it has gotten easier but it hasn’t. Another month has passed and the hurt remains as strong as it has ever been. This month brought the first Valentine’s Day without my wife and my daughter’s first birthday without her. I now realize that there will be many, many “firsts” most of which will be painful.
It is still so hard to believe that I will never look into my wife’s eyes again. Never kiss her or touch her like I always did. Never hear her advice or support again. How does one accept never, especially when you don’t want to?
I go out a little bit more. I see friends for dinner but for the most part, the evenings remain empty. The house also feels empty. My life is different. What I thought was important before is much less so if at all. Death changes your perspective but you cannot give in or give up. I continue to work and feel the satisfaction of helping others figure out their lives.
I am fortunate to have friends who keep in touch to see how I am. I am fortunate to have children who despite their own grief, check in with me. I am fortunate to have had 50 wonderful years with my wife. So I try to count my blessings.
I now believe that the only thing that will help me in this grieving process is just the passing of time.
January 20, 2017
It is now four months since my wife has passed and I can’t say that it has gotten any easier. I have gotten busier and in that sense, I have been preoccupied and am not dwelling on the sense of loss. But those moments when I am alone and are not doing anything are the most difficult moments. Friends have called me and invited me to make sure I am busy but you always have moments of aloneness which still hurt. I rationally know that my wife is gone but I still haven’t accepted it nor do I want to. My life is different. I am different. And it will never be the same.
I don’t know how long it will take, if ever, to heal from this grief. People constantly ask me how am I doing and I find it a very hard question to answer. I know they mean well and are interested but what do you say. I am doing fine? I am not doing well? I am really just doing okay and keeping busy. That is probably the best I can say right now.
Everywhere are constant reminders of the life I used to have. Some are poignant and other very sad. We dedicated the new office in my wife’s memory and seeing her picture gives me the feeling that she is with me all day long. I am glad we did that.
I also went to the cemetery with my daughter and it was emotionally, one of the most difficult things I have ever done. Yet when we left I felt some comfort.
I think my period of grieving will be over when I can truly accept that my wife has gone and that she had a wonderful life. I hope I can do that one day.
December 19, 2016
Another month has gone by and it doesn’t get any easier. In fact, the holidays highlight the emptiness and the loss. These are very difficult times and the powerlessness of not being able to change what happened is overwhelming. Keeping busy helps as it distracts from the grief yet even around people I feel alone. I grapple with acceptance and I am not there yet and probably won’t be for a long, long time.
I also realize that I have changed. No longer do I have my best friend to travel with, to talk to, to learn from, and to share my private thoughts. My wife and I grew up and grew together and we shared many, many wonderful experiences. Now those experiences are over and all I have left are the memories and the possessions. Yes, my children are wonderful and we have a very good relationship. But they too have their own grief to deal with.
I have found that death is the hardest part of life. Rationally, I understand that we will all pass at some time. But are we ever prepared for it? I give thanks that my wife did not suffer long; that is a blessing in itself. But I miss her.
I have learned that despite all we control in our life, we are never really in control of what matters the most. I am glad that we had such a close and warm relationship yet, precisely because of this, it hurts now that she has passed.
November 21, 2016
It is now 2½ months since my wife died and the transition to acceptance is extremely difficult. Cognitively, it sounds like an easy task. But emotionally, it is one of the most difficult tasks I’ve ever faced in my life. I have spoken with others who have lost loved ones who seem to be the only ones who can understand what I am going through. They know the depths of emptiness and loneliness that one can only experience when one loses one’s partner. It is almost like a club of grievers who never ever really stop grieving. They just seem to put it aside to go on with their lives for the sake of themselves and others. They say that it gets better but the pain never leaves.
How does one go from sharing everything with another to being alone? Things we were going to do, places we were going to travel to, renovations to the house, movies we were going to see, friends we were going to visit, and new experiences we were going to learn from are now all gone. They have to be done by me alone and yes I will do some of these but it is not the same. Ideas that I usually bounced off my wife or opinions where I needed her input now have to be decided only by me or by family and friends. Everything has changed internally since I am now a “me” and not a “we”.
Thanksgiving is just around the corner and it has always been a family holiday for us. Yes I will be with my adult children but our loss will be paramount. As we always do, we will give thanks for our health and everything we have in life. We will also give thanks for having had my wife in our lives for as long as we had her. We will also give thanks that she is suffering no longer and we will remember her joy, her wit, her love for people, animals, and books, and her love for us.
Email of the Month
We would like to thank John C. for the following email:
Every action has an equal and an opposite reaction. Similarly, every proverb has an equal and an opposite proverb! There always exists two sides of the same coin. See below:
All good things come to those who wait. BUT… Time and tide wait for no man.
The pen is mightier than the sword. BUT… Actions speak louder than words.
Wise men think alike. BUT… Fools seldom differ.
The best things in life are free things. BUT… There’s no such thing as a free lunch.
Slow and steady wins the race. BUT… Time waits for no man.
Look before you leap. BUT… Strike while the iron is hot.
Do it well, or not at all. BUT… Half a loaf is better than none.
Birds of a feather flock together. BUT… Opposites attract.
Don’t cross your bridges before you come to them. BUT… Forewarned is forearmed.
Doubt is the beginning of wisdom. BUT… Faith will move mountains.
Great starts make great finishes. BUT… It ain’t over ’till it’s over.
Practice makes perfect. BUT… All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
Silence is golden. BUT… The squeaky wheel gets the grease.
You’re never too old to learn. BUT… You can’t teach an old dog new tricks
What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. BUT… One man’s food is another man’s poison.
Absence makes the heart grow fonder. BUT… Out of sight, out of mind.
Too many cooks spoil the broth. BUT… Many hands make light work.
Hold fast to the words of your ancestors. BUT… Wise men make proverbs and fools repeat
The information provided in this electronic newsletter is not a substitute for professional treatment. It is the opinions of the writers and is provided solely for educational purposes. For mental health care, seek a qualified professional.
If you no longer wish to receive future E-Letter reminders, please send an email to DrKimmel@KimmelPsychology.com requesting to be removed from this list.
If you find this information interesting or helpful, please forward this E-Letter to your contacts and friends. Copyright © 2017 by Joel I. Kimmel, Ph.D. P.A. and Associates.