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INTRODUCTION: HURRY UP, YOUR LIFE IS WAITING
As doctors with subspecialties in geriatrics, we have seen many patients on the brink of, just starting, or deeply into their retirement years. Their widely varied responses to this time and its challenges are remarkable. Some rise to new heights, whereas others seem ready to heave a heavy sigh, sag into a rocking chair, and settle in for good. For instance, one patient, Joanne, a recently retired real estate agent, told us her post–work life remained the same as it was while she was selling property. The only real difference was the gift of time that retirement had given her. She was now able to indulge in a midmorning haircut or spa treatment, linger over lunch, spend extra time browsing in the library or bookstore, or take her grandchildren or just herself to an afternoon matinee, all activities that she previously had time only for in the evening or on weekends. She considered this luxury truly golden.
When we compared Joanne’s outlook to that of another patient, Brian, a man who had enjoyed a successful advertising career, we saw a dramatic difference. He could find little to enjoy about his retirement and went so far as to say that he had lost much of the pleasure of living! Even leisure activities that, as a working person, he had enjoyed participating in with his wife now held little interest for him, including dinner parties, cribbage competitions, or simply discussing current events with his spouse. Some of his withdrawal, Brian admitted, came from his increasing forgetfulness, which both scared and embarrassed him. But what bothered him most of all was spending so much time by himself—a situation he had rarely found himself in when he worked. Still, he lacked the will and the gumption to get out and get on with his life. He felt lost and without direction.
What makes one person embrace the second half of life, while another seems only capable of withdrawing from it? Why did some of our patients manage to maintain the vitality that had marked their working years while others failed to make the transition? We wanted to find some information about happy retirees that would assist our patients who were finding retirement a rough go. Exploring bookstores, libraries, and the Internet, we were relentless in our search for retirement advice. Most books we found focused on financial planning, and those that didn’t were anecdotal—filled with standard recommendations to eat well, get enough sleep, and exercise. Good suggestions but too general and unscientific for our needs.
The search continued in our own practices: we began to look at our patients to identify with clinical certainty the skills, habits, and characteristics associated with people who experienced what we observed to be productive, well-adjusted, or “successful” retirements, which we define as richly endowed with good health, loving relationships, outside interests, and, most important, the resilience and wisdom to graciously accept the inevitable, which is loss—of family, friends, loved ones, health, memory, and, ultimately, life.
We wanted to collect accurate data, so we created and conducted a professionally designed survey. More than fifteen hundred of our patients were asked to anonymously fill out what we had come to call The Retirement Docs’ Survey. It was the first time that a survey such as this had centered on retired people and their insights. The questionnaire consisted of multiple choice and essay questions, which took anywhere from an hour to an hour and a half to complete. The return rate was an unheard-of 72 percent. Our respondents replied candidly and often at length—their essays running the gamut from succinctly matter-of-fact to lengthy and deeply emotional, from warmly positive to grimly negative.
As you can imagine, we had amassed a tremendous amount of original research and strong data. We used well-established, controlled research and analysis methods to study the results, including assistance from a local university’s gerontology statistics department. After our first look at what we had gathered, we realized that retirement success is not related to gender, marital status, children, hobbies, or grandchildren. Highly successful retirees come from all walks of life, from stay-at-home moms to corporate leaders, from astronauts to cab drivers, from people forced to retire because of office politics or poor health to those who couldn’t walk away from the nine-to-five treadmill.
From the initial sorting, the statisticians identified four distinct phases of retirement, and nearly eighty traits that successful retirees shared. Those findings were then further distilled, which led us to identify eight specific traits that had the greatest statistical significance and were shared by all of the top 20 percent respondents in the Retirement Docs’ Survey. The four phases and the eight traits of highly successful retirees are the backbone of Retirement Rx. Helping you identify and use the traits you already possess and showing you how to develop those you may lack is the purpose of this book. It’s the kind of “retirement investment” that pays dividends socially, intellectually, and physically.
Introduction: Hurry Up, Your Life Is Waiting
Part 1 Putting the Rest of Your Life in Perspective
1 A New Kind of Retirement 7
2 The Retirement Docs' Quiz 23
Part 2 A Highly Successful Retirement and How to Make It Your Own
3 Trait One: Sowing Seeds-The Planner's Advantage 33
4 Trait Two: Accentuate the Positive-It's All About Attitude 49
5 Trait Three: Go with the Flow-Accept Change 67
6 Trait Four: A Little Help from Your Friends (and Family)-The Strong Support Group 77
7 Trait Five: Kick Back-Enjoy Leisure Time 101
8 Trait Six: Here's to Your Health 113
9 Trait Seven: Passion and Purpose 137
10 Trait Eight: Let the Spirit Move You-Spirituality and Religion 149
Part 3 The Exit Consultation
11 Into the Future 163
Retirement Resources 181
Posted November 12, 2011
No text was provided for this review.
Posted December 25, 2009
No text was provided for this review.