Planning Your Life-After-Work: Don't Retire and Die

by Jeff C. Johnson

Two empty beach chairs

Why is it that some people retire and then in short order seem to experience a setback, illness, or even death?

I’m not a health or psychology professional, but I know it happens. And you probably know of more than one person who retired, then hit a wall. Could it be that they weren’t prepared to lose personal connections from work (colleagues, associates, customers)? Or maybe what they saw as their purpose for getting up in the morning? Perhaps they had worries, including concerns about money or a reduced income specifically. The stress of leaving work can sometimes be more than the stress of working. This is my unscientific observation after working with retirees over the last four decades.

In my opinion, based on experience, it’s better to prepare for retirement well in advance of the day you leave the workforce.

When I ask preretirees about their future life and planned activities, I worry about the glib “Oh, don’t worry about me, I’ll find something to do” response.

Here’s a short preretirement checklist for your consideration:

  1. Have you had a complete preretirement physical? Before you wave good-bye to your company-sponsored health insurance, find out if you need a “tune-up” or even something more serious addressed.
  2. Do you have a health history notebook or file? Gathering all your past medical test results and information, as well as records of your ancestors, could be incredibly valuable.
  3. Do you have an exercise program in place? If not, ask your doctor if it’s OK, then hire a physical trainer to get a plan in place.
  4. Have you considered how your nutrition should change? Nutrition specialists are everywhere, and a personal appointment is generally inexpensive, especially compared to doctor visits and hospital stays.
  5. What will stimulate you mentally and socially in retirement?

If you are not sure how you will fill your days or if you should even retire, then read my next two posts, which ask, “Are you really ready to retire?”