My dad used to be the jolliest person around the house, his laughter used to resonate through all the rooms. He used to work in marketing and often used to go on tours, but whenever he was home he made sure that he spent time with each one of our family. He had so many interests other than work and so many acquaintances that we hardly saw him sitting idle.
Four months into retirement, my dad wasn’t the same. We hardly saw him talking, smiling or even socializing. He used to give non- committal answers when we enquired about his health and even started smoking again. Wanting to know what was wrong, I spoke to a counselor and she explained he was just having a bad time coping with his retirement.
You might have noticed the same with your own parents and people you know. All the excitement and the plans for life after retirement are replaced by gloom few months into it. Dr. Ashok Balsekar, Medical Counselor working in Hope and Harmony clinic feels that, it has a lot to do with “feeling of being needed and wanted. When you retire, there is a feeling that you are no longer useful and nobody wants you now.”
Symptoms of Retirement blues
- Chronic pains
He also adds that many of the symptoms of the retirement depression overlap with those of aging like weakness, loss of sleep, high BP, forgetfulness and diabetes. So they may also be overlooked.
He believes that all of it can be prevented if one plans the retirement beforehand. He also adds that of course you cannot just switch off your working life and on your retired lifestyle. “People should make the changes gradually over a period of time. I feel the person should prepare one year before and starting doing things that they intend.” For example if you are interested in singing you should start going to the class from one year before you plan on retiring.
Importance of Family Support
What makes this change from working to retirement more difficult is the lack of understanding by the family member’s part. Since they feel that now that the person is retired, they assume that he will not have any problems and tensions and can concentrate on relaxing and enjoying life. What is forgotten is that enjoying cannot be a onetime feeling; the person should feel happy every moment and enjoy all the time.
Here is how you can encourage them to take up something in their free time and thus more likely to be happy.
» Hidden Talents
It is hard to imagine your parents as being anything but your parent. But there is lot about them that you don’t know. They might be great artists, singers, dancers or might have secret interests that you might have never known.
So what do you do? Ask them about their interests and likes. How they made sure you got access to what you desired, make sure you encourage them to take these interests up once again. Be there for them for moral support.
» Explore and travel
Your parents might have curbed their interest to travel and see the world due to job and family ties but post retirement is the time to retrace their interest.
So what do you? Tell them that they have sacrificed enough and they don’t have to stay at home now that they are retired. They can use this time to go to places they always wanted to go, make sure you tell them in a way that they don’t feel that you are sending them away.