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How To Avoid The Retiree Blues

Ken Teegardin Written by Ken Teegardin
SeniorLiving.Org Expert on Chief Editor | Caregiver

Nearly 76 million boomers are heading toward senior living over the next few decades. If you’re one nearing the big “R” have you thought about what you’ll do? What to do with your time becomes a problem for many retirees. Why? 

Avoiding Retiree Blues

You create a void when you retire. You work your whole life. You make sacrifices. Get stressed. Work long hours, occasionally to the detriment of your family. All for the ultimate goal of retiring. And for some that goal comes with, “I’m not working. Now what?”

For those 45 or 50 years, 40+ hours a week, you were occupied. You didn’t have to wonder where you would be come Monday morning.

This void can be stressful for some seniors, depressing for others. Some self-identify with their careers. For others, their jobs were simply a means to an end. But to suddenly lose that takes adjustment for almost everyone.

So how do you avoid the retiree blues?

Recognizing that Your Feelings Are Normal

With any big life-changers, there will be feelings of uncertainty, stress and even depression. This is normal. It helps to realize this and to know that most retirees experience some levels of these emotions.

But like any event in life, what matters is how you react to that event. With retiring, that translates to having a road map. There’s still time to do what you always wanted to do. So let's look at your map.

Embracing Your Dreams

There is only one success - to be able to spend your life in your own way—Christopher Morley

Even if you didn’t spend your working life quite the way you wanted, now is the time. Live your dreams. Retirement is a great time to make this happen.

Learn Something New; Strengthen Your Brain

Can you avoid the retiree blues by playing the blues? Maybe you always wanted to play guitar in a rock band. Take lessons. Practice every day. Enjoy learning something new.

There are bands out there with retirees playing Jimi Hendrix and Cream covers. When you’re good enough, find one. Better yet, form your own band. Even if you never get good enough you’ve learned something new. The experience may open doors to something else that may change your life. It happens.

Plus, studies show that learning new things—especially learning to play an instrument—will help strengthen your brain even as you age.

Work Again

We said it. Maybe you need a second shot, particularly if you’re career was unfulfilling. Work at a homeless shelter. Become a barista philosopher (i.e. work in a coffee shop). Invent something. Start your own business. Many seniors find second careers doing this. With your experience, you are years ahead of most of the working population. Find work in an industry you are interested in.

Short on dreams?

Your dreams don’t have to be big achievements. What did you always want to do but never seemed to have the time for? Don’t limit your time-frame. Dig back as far as you can. Think about what really excited you before you had a career. Make a list.

Did you change college majors from art history to something more practical like business? Start studying art history again. Take college enrichment classes. Plan a trip to the Louvre in Paris or the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. Volunteer as a guide in a local museum. Become the expert you always wanted to be.


Once you are retired, you may experience strong emotions about your new life. That’s normal. One-third of your adult hours were spent working. Now a void is created. To avoid the retiree blues, start thinking of things you want to do. Senior living should be fulfilling. What are your unfulfilled dreams? Even if you can’t compete in the Tour de France, you can tour France on a bike. You can turn your photography hobby into a business. You can become an expert on a subject.

Here's a final suggestion: consider living abroad. For a primer, read "Retiring Abroad".

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