According to sociologist Lyndsay Green, only one in ten of the men she interviewed for her book Ready to Retire had given any thought to life post-retirement beyond the financial aspect.
For most, work is much more than just a way to pay the bills. It gives life the structure many of us need to thrive, is a source of social connection, ad often, offers a reason for getting up in the morning — a sense of purpose, in other words.
When we haven’t made any plans to replace those things, and they disappear overnight, problems can ensue. For example, according to one UK study, rates of depression climb 41 per cent in the two to three years following retirement.
Since men may lack the network of friends that women tend to cultivate, and may be more apt to invest their sense of identity in their work, they may be more at risk for such a decline in mental health.
So if you’re a man who’s on the cusp of retirement, what can you do to protect yourself? Or what can you do if you’re already permanently left work behind and find yourself struggling?
My heartfelt thanks to the interviewees who so generously shared their time, expertise, and stories:
- Eric Dahli, co-founder of the Dead Boats Society in Victoria, BC.
- Lyndsay Green, sociologist and author of several books, including Ready to Retire: What You and Your Spouse Need to Know About the Reality of Retirement.
- Dr. Marnin Heisel, PhD, clinical psychologist and associate professor and director of research in the department of psychiatry at Western University and a scientist at the Lawson Health Research Institute in London, Ont.
- Doug Mackie, founder of Canadian Men’s Sheds Association, which is based in Winnipeg, Man.
- Vic Maltby.