The “Retirement Curse” and How to Avoid It

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For most people, retirement is like the light at the end of the tunnel. Young people will work hard through their best physical years only to reach retirement, tired and wanting to sit around all day.

What Is the Retirement Curse?

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The retirement curse is a phenomenon where retirees experience a decline in their physical and mental health after leaving the workforce. The term “retirement curse” is often used to describe the negative effects of retirement, such as depression, social isolation, and a loss of purpose or identity.

What Is the Retirement Curse?

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The Retirement Curse is also the illusion that retirement after decades of working is going to be the dream you’ve been waiting for. Shopping on a Tuesday morning or fishing on a Wednesday afternoon seem to be the promised possibilities.

What Is the Retirement Curse?

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However, many retirees’ dreams are cut short by serious medical issues. Arthritis, cancer, and a number of other potential health issues might limit the options you have for travel and other retirement activities.

What Are the Effects of the Retirement Curse?

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Retirement can be a significant life transition that involves changes in daily routines, social connections, and financial security. For some individuals, retirement can be a difficult adjustment that leads to feelings of boredom, loneliness, and a lack of purpose. In addition, retirement can also result in a decrease in physical activity and cognitive stimulation, which can lead to declines in health and cognitive function.


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Even if retirees had friends outside of the office, work provides a built-in network of like-minded individuals so the comradery of going into the office or talking to people on Zoom leaves many feeling isolated when they leave the workforce.


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Depression is another major concern of older people. Lacking physical and social interactions can expedite the onset of depression.

Lowered Mobility

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All of the grand travel plans might be out the window if you start developing mobility problems. Arthritis, broken bones, and other issues might result in you being unable to go on those adventures.

Chronic Health Problems

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Additionally, chronic health issues might come up that prevent you from enjoying retirement to the fullest. Cancer, arthritis, Alzheimer’s, and other diseases might prevent you from

How Can You Avoid the Retirement Curse?

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The retirement curse is real, but there are things you can do to prevent it. We’ll cover some of the best ways to prevent the onset of the retirement curse.

Take Advantage of Your Vacation Days

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If you’ve been saving up your vacation days for a rainy day, this might be the time to use them. Instead of waiting to travel until you’re retired completely, start traveling or doing other planned retirement activities while you’re still working on the company’s dime! Your vacation days are yours so use them.

Take Mini-Retirements Throughout Your Career

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You can also take mini-retirements, or sabbaticals, throughout your career. Take a few months or years off from your career to travel, expand your skills, or enjoy life. The work will be there when you get back.

Ask For Unpaid Leave

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Similarly, you can ask your company for unpaid leave to take a longer vacation than your paid-time-off policy allows.

Have Realistic Expectations

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Know that you may not be able to do everything you plan to do in retirement. That’s ok. Just go into retirement knowing that your mobility, financial situation, or other things may prevent you from doing everything you want to.

Ease Into Retirement

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Instead of going cold turkey on work, switch to a part-time schedule that allows you to enjoy the benefits of retirement while still giving you a cognitive challenge and social interactions.

Stay in the Game

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In 2022, there were still over 10 million employees aged 65+, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Maintain Your Social Network

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One of the ways to stave off loneliness in retirement is to keep in contact with your friends. As your friends grow older, too, they’ll want to maintain social relationships.

Maintain an Active Lifestyle

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One way to increase your runway in retirement is to maintain an active lifestyle. Go for a morning walk, play some pickleball. Even better if you can find friends to play with.

Adapt Your Travel

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If you think mobility issues will ruin your travel plans, adapt your plans instead of giving them up. Find a van service in the place you’re going to drive you around or plan on going to places that are more accessible.

If You’re in a Relationship, Prepare to Be Together All the Time

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While the pandemic might have hastened this for many, retirement often leads to relationship conflicts since partners are around each other all of the time. If kids leaving home didn’t impact your relationship that much, be prepared for what retirement might do.

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