Help is on the way!

The Psychological Effects of Retirement on the Elderly

Retirement is supposed to be an exciting experience. You’ve worked for so many years to reach this point, and you now to get to relax and enjoy your time with family and friends. Many older adults don’t feel so optimistic after retirement, though. In fact, retirement can bring about some significant mental health issues, including depression and anxiety.
Because so many aspects of your life change when you retire, the transition can feel disruptive. If you or a loved one is approaching retirement age, you should be aware of the psychological effects of retirement and what you can do to protect your mental health.

The Psychological Effects of Retirement

Some seniors feel happier and more peaceful than ever when they retire. Others struggle much more with their mental health than they previously did. The effects that retirement may have on your mental health vary depending on your lifestyle, your social support network, and many other factors.

Some of the Most Common Concerns When Adjusting to Retirement


Loss of Identity and Purpose

Depression is unfortunately common among retired seniors. One of the most common causes of depression after retirement is a loss of identity. If you disliked your job or didn’t find much personal meaning in your work, you’re probably excited to part ways with your career. However, if your job was a source of personal pride, giving it up can be very painful. Without your career, you may not know who you are or what you have to offer.
This is why finding meaningful activities and social outlets is so important for older adults adjusting to retirement. It’s easy to fall into depression when you’re lacking a sense of self or a sense of purpose. Many seniors feel like they have to reinvent themselves after retirement because so much of their identity was connected to their work.

Social Isolation

Another major cause of depression during retirement is social isolation and loneliness. Not all seniors face isolation, but it becomes much more common after retirement. You may struggle to meet your social needs if most of your interactions were with coworkers. Everyone needs regular social interaction to maintain their mental health and avoid depression. If you don’t have healthy social outlets, retirement can feel bleak.

Lack of Routine

Your career probably provides a great deal of structure and routine. You wake up at the same time every day, travel to the same place, and see the same people. Following a routine can be an excellent way to maintain your mental health because it creates a sense of comfort and encourages you to keep moving.
When you retire, you may feel like you’ve lost all structure in your life. Some older adults love this newfound freedom and look forward to the flexibility each day. Others struggle severely with the lack of routine. When you don’t have as many obligations throughout your day, you might start spending too much time at home alone. The loss of routine can negatively impact your cognitive health and can worsen the symptoms of depression.

Financial Challenges

Most seniors see a significant change in their finances after retirement, which can be a serious source of anxiety. Adjusting to retirement may involve making dramatic changes to your lifestyle and spending to accommodate for the drop in income. Trying to make ends meet on a fixed income is incredibly stressful, so you may find yourself spending most of your day worrying about your finances.

Physical Health Decline

You won’t necessarily see a decline in your physical health when you retire. You might even see your health improve if you use your extra time to get active and focus on a healthy lifestyle. However, many seniors become more sedentary during retirement. Spending most of your time at home without keeping your body moving will take a toll.
A decline in your physical health can affect your mental health in several ways. If you struggle to get out of the house because of mobility issues or chronic pain, you may face isolation and depression. Changes in your health can also be a source of anxiety. You might feel anxious about your health getting progressively worse or about the risk of falling or experiencing a medical emergency.

Fear of Aging

In some seniors, retirement brings up some deeply rooted fears about aging. You’re entering a new phase of your life, which can be extremely overwhelming. You may start thinking more about what will happen as you age or what will happen to your family when you pass away. Aging is a natural part of life, but it’s also a major source of anxiety. These fears can be especially overpowering if you lack a support system to confide in.

Maintaining Good Mental Health During Retirement

Retirement has its risks, but it is possible to keep your mental health in good shape. Identifying what you’re struggling with and why is the first step toward improving your emotional wellness. Maybe you feel like you’ve lost your identity, or maybe you’re spending too much time at home. Checking in with your mental health and noticing how you feel is essential.
Adding structure and variety to your life while adjusting to retirement can be helpful, too. You don’t have to follow a rigid routine with a full schedule every day, but incorporating a variety of activities both in and out of the house allows you to find a new sense of purpose. Staying active with hobbies and activities is also a great way to keep your mind sharp.
If retirement is taking a toll on your mental health, don’t be afraid to reach out for help. Counseling for seniors is a valuable opportunity for you to explore your beliefs about your retirement. With the help of a therapist, you can discover ways to add joy and meaning to your life as you navigate this transition.
Blue Moon Senior Counseling provides therapy for older adults facing depression, anxiety, and other mental health challenges. Reach out to us today to learn more about how we can help.

Share this article


Get The Help You Deserve Today!

    Our Specialties


    Latest News