Fall 1990 // Volume 28 // Number 3 // Ideas at Work // 3IAW4

Previous Article Issue Contents Previous Article

Surviving Retirement


Daryl L. Eberhardt
Extension Home Economist
Home Economics Department
Rutgers Cooperative Extension
New Brunswick, New Jersey

Most retirement programs, whether public education or employer sponsored, focus on financial, housing, and insurance issues. However, some pre- and recent retirees may experience stress because of changes occurring at retirement.

"Surviving Retirement" is a class designed to help pre- and recent retirees recognize common transitions and psychological retirement adjustments. They also learn strategies to maximize personal satisfaction and minimize stress. The program can stand on its own or be part of an overall retirement series.

Program content includes psychological and social adjustments, ways to minimize friction in relationships, time management, opportunities for new careers or further employment, volunteer options, and leisure activities in retirement. Participants are encouraged to bring spouses and significant others to class.

After initial testing and revision, the program was taught in three counties by home economists, with 133 people participating in these classes. Two companies sent personnel department representatives to the program; one company requested the program for its employees at the worksite.

Participant reaction was positive, indicating people gained or reinforced knowledge about and developed positive attitudes towards retirement. Specific comments were: feel more confident, learned the importance of setting goals and open communication, have more realistic expectations, and have more understanding of spouse, friends, and family members. Follow-up evaluation indicated participants set goals, practiced positive communication techniques, reduced stress, and expanded leisure interests.

The Aging Issue Team in the Home Economics Department at Rutgers Cooperative Extension selected Surviving Retirement for statewide emphasis in 1990. A marketing campaign has been developed for teaching the class throughout the state. We'll also encourage companies to open worksite programs to spouses.

Volunteers, particularly retirees, will be involved as resource panel participants, instructors, and in team teaching. Program participants enjoy hearing the positive and negative experiences of current retirees.

Surviving Retirement meets the needs of an aging, yet active, population. This program helps them make a smooth transition into retirement and maximize their experience. Cooperative Extension is about helping people make informed decisions to improve their lives. Surviving Retirement succeeds in this goal.