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Retirement: Transition From Work to After-Work Life


Many workers find it challenging to transition from work to after-work life, a significant transitional stage for every employee is retirement. At the moment, the number of people retiring from work is almost 46 million, and the number is expected to rise to 90 million by the year 2050 (Hansson et al., 2018). According to the Rural Health Information Hub, 20% of Americans are projected to be 65 years and older by the year 2030 (Shafik et al., 2019). Aging is a biological phenomenon which cannot be avoided and mostly peaks at retirement. This is when individuals leave the paid workforce and get finances from a pension scheme, thereby marking a significant transition period in a person’s life (Hansson et al., 2018). There are profound life changes that come with moving to retirement, and older adults have to cope with them.

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Challenges that Retirees Face

Retirement presents many challenges to people transitioning from work life. One of them is inadequate savings to help them live comfortably. Nowadays, life expectancy has increased, and people must have enough funds for later-in-life expenses since some workplace retirement plans do not meet most needs (Stenholm et al., 2016). After retirement, one is forced to struggle with the little they have saved, especially with the decreasing or stagnating income from Social Security, which cannot provide full benefits. Another challenge is longevity, which slightly differs between men and women. According to Hansson et al. (2018), a woman in her mid-50s has a 51% chance of reaching age 90, while a man has a 33% likelihood. Thus, retirees have the challenge of generating enough income to spend for this period. The third challenge is volatility to what Shafik et al. (2019) call Black Swan events, which are inevitable and unpredictable. The retired are very vulnerable during these events because they do not have the energy to cushion themselves, which leaves them very volatile. The last challenge is the lack of an appropriate social and emotional support system. Being connected to friends and family is an excellent way pensioners ward off anxiety and stress, without which their well-being is adversely affected.

Coping Strategies after Retirement

Attaining psychological comfort with the retirement life should be the main aim of the retired old adults. This transition is regarded as a process to manage stressors an adaptation to the new challenges of advanced age (Hansson et al., 2018). Older adults have different ways of handling and adapting to potential retirement stressors. It is a life phase where one moves to a new life level with new challenges and engagements, and one must have the right coping skills to adapt to the new phase. According to Hansson et al. (2018), some pensioners opt to engage in private jobs or businesses, while others choose to go back home and rest. At this time, a good social support system is needed to cushion them from the possibility of depression. Hansson et al. (2018) also state that the retired individuals who decide to rest at home end up making poor lifestyle choices, which result in negative health outcomes. Therefore, there are many ways of coping with the challenges that come with retirement.

Changes in Life Satisfaction at Retirement and After

Retirement can have various impacts on the well-being of a person. Two main factors affect an individual’s retirement adjustment process: the type of transition and individual differences in the resource capability (Shafik et al., 2019). In older adults, retirement from work is a significant life event since it marks the transition from work life to a new phase, which presents the challenges discussed above. This type of change usually includes a process where individuals distance themselves both behaviorally and psychologically from a workforce. A person in this situation always has to handle such new challenges, social roles, opportunities and expectations, which have a significant effect on their well-being Shafik et al. (2019). Thus, many workers have problems adjusting to retirement, and thus, their level of satisfaction is altered.

Retirement adjustment is a process of coping with the changes in life, which always accompany the transition. To maintain daily life’s central aspects and structure, bridge employment has always been recommended. Shafik et al. (2019) suggest this approach has been useful since it predicts general life and retirement satisfaction. However, this is not entirely true because coping strategies cannot be generalized. Shafik et al. (2019) also note that many retirees have reported positive reasons for seeking bridge and alternative employments just before and after retirement, respectively. However, some adverse effects on general life well-being have been observed. It is only because of financial reasons that nearly all workers enter bridge employment; hence, the negative impact on their welfare. Therefore, life satisfaction depends on the kind of retirement transition and individual differences in the kind of resource endowment.

Changes in Physical Activity Patterns in Retirement

Many changes in moderate-level physical activity occur at retirement, for various reasons. Stenholm et al. (2016) conducted a cohort study and analyzed 9,488 employees of the Finnish public sector who retired between 2000 and 2011, and found that physical activity patterns change significantly at retirement. The study found out that 35% of retirees enter a formal physical activity program to maintain their health and keep themselves active and over 80% of them either engage in community or personal physical activity programs (Stenholm et al., 2016). From this research, statutory retirement seems to be linked to a short-term increase in moderate-level physical activity. There is maximized leisure-time physical activity among those retirees aged 70 and over; however, it declines with time (Stenholm et al., 2016). Therefore, there is a close relationship between statutory retirement and increased moderate-level physical activity.


Hansson, I., Buratti, S., Thorvaldsson, V., Johansson, B., & Berg, A. I. (2018). Changes in life satisfaction in the retirement transition: Interaction effects of transition type and individual resources. Work, Aging and Retirement, 4(4), 352-366.

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Shafik, S. A., Abd-alaal, E. M., El-Afandy, A. M., & Mohamed, F. K. (2019). Coping strategies of older adults regarding retirement. IOSR Journal of Nursing and Health Science, 8(3), 57-70.

Stenholm, S., Pulakka, A., Kawachi, I., Oksanen, T., Halonen, J., & Aalto, V., Kivimäki, M., & Vahtera, J. (2016). Changes in physical activity during transition to retirement: A cohort study. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 13(1), 1-8.

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