On Your Health

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Exploring New Pursuits: Shifting Perspective in Retirement

With retirement comes finding a new normal. Many retirees feel liberated and excited by this phase of life, but it can become more challenging to stay physically and emotionally healthy while also staying mentally sharp.

Unexpected emotional effects of retirement

After building a career, making sacrifices for your family and working for decades, retirement is often viewed as the light at the end of the tunnel. However, such a significant change in routine and environment can have more heavy emotional effects than you might expect, such as:

  • Stress brought on by financial issues
  • Feelings of boredom or worthlessness without a job to perform
  • Forgetfulness and loss of mental sharpness
  • Loneliness caused by social isolation and loss of interaction
  • Trouble sleeping caused by a lack of routine or activity
  • Changes in friendships and social circles

Why social interaction is more crucial as we age

Nancy Landrum has volunteered at INTEGRIS since 1972 and has experienced first-hand how retiring requires a shift in perspective and routine.

Landrum now spends her time volunteering with INTEGRIS Senior Life Wellness, helping other seniors adjust to life in this new phase, and she encourages others to put themselves out there in retirement. “Retirement, for me, was not a time to take it easy and do all the lazy day things you want to do,” Landrum says. “It’s a time to pursue new interests and explore other pursuits.”

Part of those new pursuits, physicians agree, should be purposeful social interaction. Studies show that socially connected people recover more quickly after illness and have lower blood pressure. Those active in social groups may also be at reduced risk for heart problems, certain cancers, arthritis, depression and even Alzheimer’s disease.

“You have to expect to make new friends, especially if your friends are still working. You can’t always count on the same friendships, but retirement is not a time to internalize,” Landrum says. “You have to be more extroverted and adventurous and take on new responsibilities.”

Resources for Oklahoma retirees

So how can older Oklahomans build their social circles? By finding ways outside of the home to stay active, occupied and young at heart. INTEGRIS’s Senior Life Wellness hosts programs, classes and activities specifically for senior adults in the Oklahoma City metro area.

Try activities like:

  • Taking a class on something you’ve always wanted to learn
  • Joining a fitness center that offers classes for active seniors
  • Attending clubs or social get-togethers at a local senior center
  • Donating your time to a cause or organization you’re passionate about
  • Becoming a hospital volunteer

Landrum encourages other seniors to return to a stimulating routine quickly upon retirement. “It’s a time to give back,” she says. “To your community, to your family. We’ve all been helped in some way, so it’s our turn to give our time. I urge people to start pursuing those interests as early as possible, because you never know what tomorrow may bring.” Retirement doesn’t have to be negative or scary, but it’s important to anticipate the significant changes and have plans to adjust your expectations, your friendships and your activities accordingly.

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