[Podcast] Why is it hard to retire? - Medicare Simplified

In this episode of Medicare Simplified

In this episode of Medicare Simplified, we focus on the why it can be hard to retire.

Transcript

Courtney Collen (Host):

Welcome to Medicare Simplified: a podcast by Sanford Health Plan to help you decide which Medicare options are right for you. I'm your host, Courtney Collen. When choosing a Medicare plan, it is not one size fits all. Everyone should choose the option that best fits their needs and lifestyle. And it's good to understand all the benefits that are available to you beyond health coverage. One of those is retiring and how our habits can make the process difficult. I have Dr. Jonathan Aligada, who is a psychologist at Sanford Health in Fargo. Dr. Aligada, welcome.

Dr. Jonathan Aligada:

Thank you, Courtney. Thank you for having me.

Host:

So let's start with this: Why is it so hard for, for some individuals to retire?

Dr. Jonathan Aligada:

Well, you know, Courtney, I think that there's probably two things to think about: first I think is resources. Some people are going into retirement being more financially secure, social support is in place. You know, a lot of things are pretty solid for them in that transition. Whereas for some people, you know, they may not have the financial resources and maybe they've lost a spouse and so there's some thinking in the literature that part of what makes a transition difficult is whether or not people have a certain amount of resources to help them out. But the other thing that I think is also important to think about is we spend a lot of time, you know, retirement is kind of danged that after a lifetime of hard work, then you get to just kick back and relax. Well, we've also practiced getting up on time, you know, working with coworkers. And my sense is that a lot of the needs that people have are being met in the context of work and so when they transitioned to retirement, some of those needs might have been hidden to them that they always just got with work. And so understanding what our needs are, I think, is an important part of the process and to the extent that we didn't realize what those needs were before retirement, I think that can make it a little bit more of a challenge.

Host:

So in addition to understanding what those needs are, what can we do to overcome habits or challenges that have made retiring difficult?

Dr. Jonathan Aligada:

So I think the first thing is to really just look at retirement in an optimistic way as a time to meet some of those needs. You know, I think the literature would say that there's three needs that we have as human beings. One is for social support. One is to do something and do it well. And then a third one is to have choice. And, and so to the extent that we are able to have those needs met you know, it bodes better for us. Looking at retirement as a way to meet some of those in, you know, intrinsically held needs is a real opportunity versus, ‘I've got nothing to do’. So I think this is a moment for people to reflect on some maybe unmet needs that they never got a chance to really meet and do and really go for it

Host:

If we're nearing retirement or just starting to think about that timeline, what can or should we do to prepare ourselves to begin that next chapter in our lives?

Dr. Jonathan Aligada:

You know, I'd say as odd as it might sound and I'm pretty sure that no current employer would allow somebody to take time off to pretend to be retired for a little bit. But I think I'd encourage people to think about that lens. You know, if I were done working right now, if I really had the flexibility to do whatever I want right now, what would that be like? And I think for some people that's not hard, you know. Some of the introverts out there probably feel like, ‘oh, this is great. I can finally do the things I want to do’. And I think that's awesome. My guess is that some extroverts out there might not fully appreciate how much work connects them into society and in life. And so pretending for a moment that they're going to be retired and what if work went away, what kind of relationships would you miss? What kinds of things would you miss doing? Did you really love your job? Because it was really reinforcing, it helped you have a sense of accomplishment. Do you like your coworkers and you really like to associate with them, but, you know, you don't necessarily hang out with them after work. And so if that goes away and then you're doing this for the next, you know, X amount of time, what would that be like? Would it be okay or would that be really tough? And I think a lot of people go into retirement thinking, ‘great, I'm not going to have to deal with the hassles of deadlines and things like that’. And so those are transitory, as far as this process is concerned, stressors probably not reflective of what life will be like afterwards. If you're not retiring into something, back to the idea of that people have a need for competence, I think hobbies are one of those things that can be a need for competence. And so to the extent that you can those up ahead of time and feel like you're not just getting away from the work life, but you're actually moving into another period of time where you get to have these other needs met. I think that's a better outlook to have than just, I need to be done with work. So, really think about what would it be like to not have all these supports and resources and have to start again. And if people are not sure what that would look like, then, you know, now would be the time to kind of get an idea what that would look like moving forward and try to build it up before they have to retire.

Host:

Yeah. That's great advice and practical, too. Thank you. You know, if we're not retiring soon, but we hear this conversation and we think of a loved one who is, what are some ways we can support them in making that decision or making that transition?

Dr. Jonathan Aligada:

Yeah. You know, that's such a great question because everybody's so unique in the way that they probably approach and then respond to the retirement process, having a little bit of help probably would be good. And so I think first, I'd really encourage you know, loved ones to just be on alert for some emotional changes. Now certainly I think that there's probably going to be a little elation right away. Wouldn't be surprised if everybody post retirement is doing well for you know, a fair number of months, you know, maybe 3, 4, 5, 6 months. But I guess if you start to see, after a six month period, that this person seems a little bit more agitated, little restless, maybe a little bit down, just maybe not a sense of being their best self, that's probably a hint that this is not going well. And so if that's the case, then I think trying to encourage a little raised awareness of that. I think it's not uncommon for that I've heard at least, and maybe that's probably a clinical setting that, you know, I'm retired. I don't have anything forcing me to do anything. How come I'm not, you know, having a better time? And so I think if you're a family member, you want to be alert to those changes in mood, but then start to, you know, as much as possible, bring in the conversation about meaning, about connection and about a sense of intrinsically rewarding activities. And that's the key thing. Because there's been some research that says that if people are feeling a duty and forced to volunteer, it's probably not as healthy if they weren't doing that. But if people are feeling very motivated and doing stuff that they love, it's a lot better. And so I think as a loved one, I'd want to be attentive to, ‘does this seem like they're doing things that are expressions of who they are?’ If they're not, you know, they might not be the happiest. So to the extent that you can encourage a conversation around that and nudge them to do the things that they love, I think that's probably for the best.

Host:

It is a big decision. And with that, there's a lot to think about.

Dr. Jonathan Aligada:

The biggest thing is it's a great opportunity to find another part of yourself and being approached in that way, I think it certainly sets you off on a better footing.

Host:

Well, Dr. Aligada, thank you such great information. We so appreciate your expert insights and guidance on this topic.

Dr. Jonathan Aligada:

Thank you.

Host:

If you'd like to learn more about Medicare Advantage Plan options from Sanford Health Plan, visit, align.SanfordHealthPlan.com or find more information in our episode show notes. Thanks for being here. We'll see you soon.

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CMS ID Number: H8385_ 785-220-714PODCASTArticleRetiring-PY2022-ND-SD_C, H3186_785-220-714PODCASTArticleRetiring -PY2022-MN_C Last Updated On: 6.01.22 at 10:30 AM

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