A Preventive Approach to Retirement: To Help Head off the Psychological, Social, and Family Issues That Arise during Retirement, an Employer Teamed with Its EAP Provider to Develop a Preventive Plan of Action

By Lardani, Andrea; Correa, Raul | The Journal of Employee Assistance, March 2005 | Go to article overview

A Preventive Approach to Retirement: To Help Head off the Psychological, Social, and Family Issues That Arise during Retirement, an Employer Teamed with Its EAP Provider to Develop a Preventive Plan of Action


Lardani, Andrea, Correa, Raul, The Journal of Employee Assistance


A person who retires from work experiences a huge change in his/her life. Leaving one's job inevitably implies the modification of actions that often have been followed for many long years: awaking at a certain time, leaving home and traveling to a worksite, performing certain activities, interacting with co-workers and managers, leaving the worksite and returning home (perhaps at the same time each day; perhaps at varying times), and so on. These actions usually become habits after being performed for a long time.

The sudden interruption of these habits is not easy to accommodate. For some people, it may mean a great loss; for others, a huge satisfaction. But the truth is that it always results in the need to invest effort and energy in adapting to a new situation.

DEVELOPMENTAL CRISES

Several authors in the field of psychology consider retirement to be one of the many developmental crises people undergo in their lives. A crisis, according to Webster's dictionary, is "a stage at which a decisive change is imminent, for better or for worse." The typical developmental crises in a person's life include marriage, the birth of children--followed by their entry into school, reaching puberty, growing independence, and subsequent departure from home--gradual aging, and retirement from work.

These development crises are unavoidable and foreseeable. This means that at each developmental stage, a person will go through some sort of crisis. Each crisis will require not only the person but also his/her family to change and adjust to the new situation. If the family is flexible and has resources at its disposal, it will obtain some benefit from the crisis. But if the person or any member of his/her family tries to resist making changes, problems will appear.

Consider an employee who leaves work on a given day and becomes a retiree. What consequences may be in store for this person and any relatives living with him/her? Becoming a retiree usually affects four areas of a person's life, namely the psychological, social, family, and financial areas.

Psychological implications. Each person who retires will be affected differently, depending upon his/her particular situation. There are, however, certain common aspects that should be mentioned.

* Retiring from work implies saying goodbye to a life stage to which the person probably will not return. This is a loss that a retiree must accept and overcome.

* Modifying one's habits, especially after reaching the age of 65, usually exacts a high psychological cost.

* Retirement also marks the beginning of "old age," a life stage that is undervalued by society: This may result in anguish, sadness, rage, resentment, or other negative emotions.

* To be an actively working person is usually regarded as a virtue. To stop being such a person may have a negative impact on a retiree's emotional welfare.

Social implications. Retiring from work almost always causes a separation from friends and weakens relationships in the professional sphere. This loss may result in loneliness and anguish until the person manages to organize a new peer group.

Family implications. For persons who have worked maW years outside their homes, sharing time and space with family members rather than co-workers for the bulk of the day will require time and effort, both from the family and from the retiree. For instance, if a husband has always worked outside the home and suddenly finds himself at home the whole day with his wife, both will have to make efforts to develop a new form of cohabitation to which they are not accustomed.

Financial implications. Retirement often significantly reduces a person's income, which affects the retiree's quality of life and that of his/her family. This reduction in life quality will negatively affect the retiree and his/her family

Given these and other effects of retirement, this stage of life may properly be considered a developmental crisis for both the retiree and his/her family The better prepared they are to face this situation and adjust to their new stage of life, the better the results will be.

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A Preventive Approach to Retirement: To Help Head off the Psychological, Social, and Family Issues That Arise during Retirement, an Employer Teamed with Its EAP Provider to Develop a Preventive Plan of Action
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