Are you close to retiring or have recently retired from a long-time career? A better part of your life, working 40+ hours a week, has been surrounded by your “work family.” Coming home at your workday’s end was filled with dinner, family routines, and activities, to be repeated 5 days a week and then weekends were filled with chores, more activities, and family time. You were busy with every hour accounted for 7 days a week. You probably felt fulfilled, surrounded by family and friends, yet probably a bit stressed, fatigued, and thinking about what comes next.
What typically comes next is retirement. What does that mean? Is your value and worth suddenly diminished because that purpose you had getting up each morning to go out, accomplish great things, and provide for your family and yourself is no longer? Have you now been labeled senior citizen or any of the other phrases used today to signify we have aged, hence oftentimes less valued? Do you feel isolated, missing your work connections, missing a productive work routine, missing your now adult children? Are you more concerned now about health problems, financial concerns, and caregiving? Do you have a plan for your encore career as a retiree?
You might not miss the actual work you did in your career, but you miss your co-workers with whom you spent many hours together each week. You might miss the constant activity in your home before the kids grew up and moved on to begin their adult lives. You might wake up to the morning quiet and no real plans for the day and say ‘this is great’ or ‘what do I do with myself today.’
Andy Rooney once said “the idea of getting old doesn’t appeal to anyone. We are all aging but how we age is the key.” Retirement and aging doesn’t mean you can’t continue to have connections with people and places (just not always your work connections and sometimes not even family connections). You now have the opportunity to decide for yourself how you want to spend your time. Do you want to continue to be productive and be connected to people and places which helps us all to feel less isolated and welcomed and needed?
“Connections” is the most important word to remember from this column. With this one word, you keep old and familiar relationships and start new ones with new people and in new places. If you didn’t have time before retiring to volunteer, try it out now. The personal satisfaction of knowing you are giving back to someone or something is one of the healthiest things we can do for ourselves. It feels good and gives us meaningful purpose. It certainly reduces any feelings of isolation or loss of value which are considered major health risks as we age.
We are all very fortunate in Tualatin, no matter our age, to have many resources to volunteer, participate, give back to your community, share our skills, meet new people, create an encore career, join a committee, and be active. The good thing about volunteering is we can do it on our terms and when and how much time we can or want to give. Every hour you donate for the good of someone or something else will add days, months, years to your life.
Try it out – don’t know how? Here are some resources…Juanita Pohl Center, City Library, School House Pantry, Borland Free Clinic, be a Ride Connection driver, be a reader for youngsters in elementary school learning to read, deliver Meals on Wheels People meals to our homebound seniors, volunteer and support a non-profit, to name a few. There are plenty more to choose from to find your place.
And last, but not least, come to an Aging Task Force meeting and share how aging in place in Tualatin is going for you and how can you help us make a difference for seniors in Tualatin. We meet the second Monday of each month, 3 pm-4 pm, at the Juanita Pohl Center.