Planning for a Healthy Retirement

May 30, 2013

By emilyb

My father will retire at the end of this year at age 68, after decades of work as a certified public accountant in Detroit.

He is not looking forward to it.

When asked what he'd do with his new-found freedom, he responded with the tone of someone who'd just been fired.

"I guess I need to look for a job," he said.

These feelings are not unique to those nearing retirement age. Although approaching the end of professional employment can spark feelings of elation, relief, and freedom, it can also provoke sadness, loneliness, and fear. We build much our identities around how we spend the majority of our time, and our careers, and the social interaction offered within them, can provide a vital sense of purpose.

For my father, the thought of having no planned schedule or secure income feels a bit frightening.

"It really isn't that easy," says Kay Thomas, past NAFSA president and former director of International Student and Scholar Services at the University of Minnesota. "Retirement is not a point in time, it's a process of adjusting to a new you, to a new identity, when you've been so tied to your career."

She advises retirees or those approaching the end of their careers to view retirement as a major life transition, much like getting married, having a child, or moving to a new city or country.

Retirement planning, therefore, demands both a financial and a psychological portfolio. While it's critical to craft a financial plan that includes considerations for long-term care insurance, a durable power of attorney, projected living expenses, and inflation over time, it's also key to ask, "What are some things I can do to maintain my health after retirement?"; "What are ideas I am passionate about?"; and "How can I maintain and grow relationships with others in the future?"

"We're not at the end of the book; we just started a new chapter," says Sue Marlay, leader of NAFSA's Phase II special interest group (SIG).

Providing personal and professional development after retirement is a key part of the Phase II SIG. Participation in the group provides advice and support for prospective retirees as they plan for transition, mentoring programs for newcomers in the international education field, travel programs, and welcome social interaction, including discussions hosted on Facebook.

Additionally, membership in Phase II allows retirees an opportunity to stay active in NAFSA and voice their opinions on what programs they would like to see developed, and what issues matter to them.

Want to know more? Explore the Phase II SIG network to learn about how you can do to stay active after retirement.