Mt Pleasant News

Wash Journal   Fairfield Ledger
Neighbors Growing Together | Mar 24, 2018

Who teaches Retirement 101?

By Brooks Taylor, Mt. Pleasant News | Jan 05, 2018

Two of my closest friends retired in 2017 — one by choice, the other due to a disability.

Since they retired, many of our conversations center on what is going on in their lives.

Neither of the pair had hobbies, which I feel is a significant detriment to a happy and satisfying retirement.

You hear many retirees proclaiming that they are busier now than when they were working, which in many cases is true. However, despite their busy schedules, they don’t regret retiring.

My friends aren’t among the busier now than when working. Retirement isn’t something that a lot of people prepare for. There are no Retirement 101 courses being taught at community colleges. You are on your own, find your path and walk it.

Dan in particular has struggled, probably because he is one of those high-energy guys and suddenly grinding to a halt is aggravating. He does do some fishing and works out periodically but doesn’t find the same motivation to do either as he had while working.

I suggested that he look into volunteer opportunities. He lives in a similar-size community as Mt. Pleasant, and I thought there must be some volunteer posts for retirees. I suggested talking to the school district. In many school districts, retirees read to students. I figured he might have an “in” because his wife is a schoolteacher. No such luck, he was told he was not needed.

He did deliver “Meals on Wheels” for a couple of months but when the “snow birds” returned, he was told he was not needed.

My other friend, Bill, had no chance to prepare for retirement. He has some health problems and during a visit to the doctor last fall was told he could not drive any longer. Because he had about a 30-mile commute to work and a ride with a co-worker was not possible, he had no choice but to go on disability.

Bill’s personality is the complete opposite of Dan’s. Although he doesn’t have any hobbies either, he is content to stay home, watch television and sleep.

Although the federal government has set the retirement age at 66, there is no magic number in which to hang it up.

I’ve known many people who have worked into their 70s and 80s, generally because of a perceived power base, or because work was all they knew. Some of these people were later forced to retire due to health concerns, lived a few months and died. So sad.

One of the best pieces of advice I have received came from a friend who said we should work to live, not live to work. He was a workaholic.

Over the past several weeks, I have gained a taste of the lives of Dan and Bill. I did three years ago, too, when I fractured my hip and could’t work for three weeks. This time, due to a medical problem, it will be a longer absence.

However, I am not at a loss for things to do. I am going to two different types of therapy twice a week, doing exercises between visits and writing what I can from home.

I can’t say enough about therapy or the therapists at the Henry County Health Center (HCHC). That has been a silver lining as the therapists are considerate, dedicated and compassionate. Sure, you are pushed to limits you don’t think you can achieve. But if you want to be rehabilitated, you have to be challenged.

During my last incident, I spent a couple of days in the hospital and was reminded again what a truly great facility we have in Mt. Pleasant. HCHC lives its motto of compassionate caring from the doctors to the dietary personnel. I am also thankful that when I arrived in Mt. Pleasant and needed a physician, I chose Dr. Savage. He’s super and treats his patients with professionalism and respect.

I miss my colleagues at the office. It isn’t the same working from home. Frequently, I don’t feel a part of the operation even though my byline occasionally appears in this newspaper. That feeling, though, is not on my co-workers, but me.

One thing I have learned is that my current working arrangement requires acute time management. It is too easy to put something off until later when there is no set schedule. Doing that, however, leads to a time crunch and work suddenly becomes hard work.

The break may be nice, but I am looking forward to returning and resuming a regular schedule and lifestyle.

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