Challenges of Retirement and Coping Tips

For many people retirement is not an easy stage of life. To help understand some challenges people commonly face when they enter into retirement and coping tips for being retired, I have interviewed therapist Jessica Bollinger LCSW.

Tell me a little bit about yourself.
“I have a master of social work from the University of Kentucky. I have studied and am certified in Imago Relationship Work. I am a Getting the Love You Want workshop facilitator, and present the weekend workshop 8 times a year, here in my home on my farm in Lexington Kentucky. I also do trauma work with EMDR, and help people have a happy childhood doing Developmental Needs Meeting Work, (DNMS).”

What are some challenges that people commonly face when they enter into retirement?
“I have worked with many individuals and couples who are coping with retirement. Something that retirement brings up for me is thinking about Erickson’s stages of psychosocial development.

Between 40 ‘” 65 years of age is the stage of:
Care: Generativity versus Stagnation. (Middle adulthood, 45-65 years of age) The main question that comes up is, ‘Will I produce something of real value?’ The important virtue in this stage is care. Generativity is the concern of establishing and guiding the next generation. Have we have had socially valued work? This is the stage that the primary developmental task is contributing to society and helping to guide future generations.

Between the ages of 65 and on up is the stage of:
Wisdom: Ego integrity versus Despair. The main question is ‘Have I lived a full life?’ During this stage we slow down our productivity and begin to explore retirement. We contemplate our accomplishments and are able to develop integrity if we can see ourselves as leading a successful life. If we have not seen our life as productive, we can become dissatisfied with life and develop despair, often leading to depression and hopelessness.

Challenges in retirement emanates from how well we have lived our life. How have we truly lived? Are there regrets? How have our relationships been? What kind of relationship with our loved one do we take into our retirement? How is our health? How well did we retire debt before we retired? Financially from the ages of 45-65 we should have had productive accumulation of assets instead of debt accumulation.”

What are some tips for coping with retirement?
“Productive accumulation I think is the key word leading up to retirement. Taking care of our physical bodies, eating right and exercising paves the way for a healthy retirement. Productive input into having healthy relationships with our spouses or partners, and with our children paves the way for a more enriching retirement.

Things that are helpful in retirement are to keep learning and being active in life. Active engagement does not mean that you still have to climb mountains, but you can still learn about them and hike around the base!”

What type of professional help is available for someone that is having a hard time coping with retirement?
“There are many opportunities for retired people. Our local university offers free coursework to anyone over the age of 65. They are called Donavan Scholars. There are travel opportunities that are economical, for example being able to stay in elder hostels.

I also recommend anyone finding uncomfortable feelings in retirement to pursue a good counselor. Good counsel can help someone with any uncomfortable feelings and with any difficult adaptations of retirement.”

Thanks Jessica for doing the interview on the challenges of retirement and coping tips. For more information on Jessica Bollinger or her work you can check out her website on

Recommended Readings:
How to Overcome Depression During Retirement
Coping Strategies for Midlife Challenges
How to Help Your Spouse Get Through a Mid Life Crisis