My Advice on Retirement for Those of You Years Away from Retiring

You really don’t want to spend your retirement like this. So here’s some advice:

By the time I was fifty I was looking forward to retirement. I figured I would have lots of time to write and maybe even enough money to do some traveling.

I officially retired from a company that managed eighteen nursing homes in Pennsylvania. I was the VP of Nursing. Please don’t be impressed, I wasn’t. I never really wanted to be a nurse and I never wanted to be a nurse for forty-four years. Hence, looking forward to retirement.

But this is what I’ve found after the last 6 years waiting for “the eagle to shit” (as my father described waiting for his VA pension and his Social Security) each month.

1. Social Security is a misnomer — it may be social but there’s very little security. Although I made a good salary (but less than the men in VP positions), my SS monthly amount would not even be enough for an apartment in some areas.

My advice to all the young Mediumers out there: save, save, save and invest wisely if you can. Social Security may last until my death but not yours. Or just bite the bullet and realize you’ll be working until you drop. Also vote for people who will make it more “secure.”

2. Time, lots and lots of time. That can also be an issue. I married a gentleman older than I am. After we were married he developed some health issues (I swear I had nothing to do with it!). I found myself taking care of him, trips to doctors, hospitals, physical therapy, labs. But I also had to take care of myself. We have a large calendar on the frig that shows what we have to do each day — doctors, mowers (for 3 acres), bug guys (we live in the country), doctors’ appointments, garbage day, etc. Some months are filled, just as if I were still working.

My advice: set aside specific times during the day for things you want to do…and follow it. Otherwise, time on your hands can slip through your fingers (arthritic though they may be).

3. My writing? I found in my old age (and after very few sales on my self-published book), that I would rather have immediate gratification. After all, how much time do I have left, anyway? Hence (I seem to like that word), I write on Medium. I also found that I wrote more and more regularly when my time was limited.

My advice: do all the creative stuff you’ve always wanted to do while you’re young (at least younger than I am).

4. If you do retire (lucky you), don’t for one minute think you can sit in a rocker on the porch and just listen to the birds and never, ever worry about all the new technical wizardly stuff ever again. In order to live in the world today, you have to have some knowledge, some working knowledge, of computers, etc. That knowledge may need updating and your best bet is to use the technology daily.

My advice: take classes (many are online and free) on tech stuff and any other topics that interest you. Do some research and see if there’s a university near you that offers a special rate for seniors. I was able to take free (yep, FREE) classes at a local Penn State campus.

5. Keep moving, no matter what. My husband had two knee replacements and did not follow his exercises at home. Yes, I was the proverbial nagging wife but when I stopped nagging, he stopped exercising. Now his walking is slow and limited. It not only limits him but it limits me. Because I want to do things with him (travel, etc.), I can’t. If we would go on a cruise, for example, I’m afraid he would not be able to do any walking tours that are offered. He refuses the use of special walking devices and only uses a cane.

My advice: if you’re doing hobbies that require lots of sitting (like writing), get up and walk around every half hour or so.

6. Keep your mind sharp. No explanation needed about this one.

My advice: Read, write, learn new things, go to new places. Do just about all of the things listed above.

Do everything now to insure you have a happy, secure, healthy retirement.

Take it from an old nurse.

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