Retirement is when a person leaves the workforce or decreases his/her commitment to their work. It is a stage in a person’s life wherein there are less physical activities, productivity, stress, and responsibility to others. Retirement involves decision making and adjustment that can impact a person’s financial, physical, and psychological well-being.[1]

Canadian Statistics

  • In 2010, people aged 55 years and older have increased from 22% to 32%. The employment for males aged 55 years and older increased to 40%, while it increased to 64% for women aged 55 years and older.[2]
  • In 2010, more than 1 in 6 Canadian workers were aged 55 years and older.2
  • Younger workers are starting full-time work later in life because of increased years in school. In 2010, full-time employment was reached at the age of 29.2
  • Workers have increasingly been delaying their retirement. Since 2004, the average retirement age remained at around 62.2 Workers at every education level are more likely to delay retirement because of the increase in expected working life.3
  • Men and women expect to stay employed for 16 years before voluntarily retiring. However, when involuntary employment exits were considered, the years expected to stay employed decreased to 14.6 years for men and 14.2 for women.[3]
  • In 2010, there were 1.3 times more workers aged 25 to 34 than workers aged 55 and older.2

Behaviours associated with Retirement:1,[4]

  • Adjusting to the transition between working life and retirement
  • Some retirees have the tendency to drink more
  • More retirees maintain or reduce their food intake
  • Withdrawal or exit from work
  • More retirees remain or become physically active
  • Re-focusing on the family

Feelings associated with Retirement:1,[5],[6]

  • Excited
  • Fearful
  • Depression
  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Helplessness

Thoughts associated with Retirement:

  • “What am I going to do from now on? What if I do not have enough money?”
  • “Am I still useful in some way?”
  • “Who am I, now? What is my purpose?
  • “What if the hobbies and activities that I like are not as meaningful as I thought it was?”

Retirement and the Body:[7],[8]

People who have trouble adjusting to retirement may feel or experience the following:

  • Fatigue
  • Higher prevalence of cardiovascular disease
  • Higher prevalence of chronic illness
  • Weight loss
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Higher prevalence of respiratory disease

Retirement and the Brain:

For most people, the ability to acquire and use new information starts to decline before retirement. In the last few decades of life, brain volume, white matter, gray matter, and cortical thickness in areas of the brain related to memory, perception, attention, and decision-making significantly decline.9 In other words, the brain’s neurons and the way these neurons work together to respond to the environmental demands often declines with age. This cognitive decline limits the ability of some workers to remain in the labor force and increases the likelihood of retirement and early retirement.[9]

Does Psychology Work?

  • Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT): CBT is the most researched form of psychotherapy and research shows that it is an effective treatment for Depression among older adults. Combined CBT and pharmacotherapy are also significantly more effective than pharmacotherapy alone.[10] People facing retirement and who are also suffering from Depression may benefit from CBT by learning new coping skills and challenging negative thinking patterns.
  • Solution-Focused Therapy (SFT): Research shows that SFT is effective in reducing aggressive and wandering behaviours in nursing home resident with Dementia, improve mental health outcomes for older adults with self-identified problems, and adult Depression.[11] People facing retirement and who are also suffering from cognitive decline and Depression may also benefit from SFT by focusing on the strengths and solutions for the challenges that come with Retirement.
  • Mindfulness Therapy (MT): Research shows that MT is effective in treating psychological disorders and reducing Anxiety, Depression, and stress.[12] People who are facing Retirement may benefit from MT by teaching awareness of thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations – this results in better coping skills, higher self-esteem, and enhanced management of stress, Depression, and Anxiety.

Tips to Help Manage Retirement![13]

For some people, Retirement is a daunting and stressful transition. The loss of regular routine and activity may challenge a person’s sense of purpose, identity, and self-esteem. Here are a few suggestions that may ease this transition:

  • The importance of social engagement and support networks. Engaging in social-based leisure activities enables people in retirement to access social networks and support which, in turn, promotes well-being. Exposure to a wider range of people also provides exposure to new ideas and opportunities to learn new skills.
  • Leisure activities that promote mastery. Participating in activities that promote mastery will help the individual in setting goals, trying new activities, and dealing with unfamiliar situations. Participation in leisure can protect against brain ageing or cognitive decline.
  • Taking care of physical health. Being healthy enables retired people to participate in a range of activities including social, educational, light, and vigorous activities. These activities promote well-being and self-efficacy. Taking care of your health is also important at this stage in a person’s life.
  • Engage in mental exercises. Mental exercise or intellectual stimulation after retirement could also help protect against brain ageing or cognitive decline.[14]

Retirement comes with the challenge of adjusting to a new lifestyle and other issues related to aging. For some, the loss of routine and productivity results in loss of self-worth, boredom, and Depression. People facing Retirement can seek help at Hopewell Psychological. Here, therapies are tailored to your needs and we use evidence-based practices such as CBT, MT, and SFT. We are available during days and evenings at multiple locations and can accommodate your schedule.

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*Psychologists are covered under Insurance Companies in Canada. You will need to check with your insurance company about the specific details regarding your coverage.


[1] Wang, Mo, and Shi, Junqi. “Psychological Research on Retirement.” Annual Reviews of Psychology 65.1 (2014): 1.1-1.25. DOI: 10.1146/annurev-psych-010213-115131

[2] Carriere, Yves, and Galarneau, Diane. “Delayed Retirement: A new trend?” Statistics Canada. 2017. Web. May 2017.

[3] Carriere, Yves, and Galarneau, Diane. “How many years to retirement?” Statistics Canada. 2016. Web. May 2017.

[4] Syse, Astri, Veenstra, Marijke, Furunes, Trude, Mykletun, Reidar J., and Solem, Per Erik. “Changes in Health and Health Behavior Associated with Retirement.” Journal of Aging and Health (2015): 1-29. DOI: 10.1177/0898264315624906.

[5] Calvo, Esteban, Sarkisian, Natalia, and Tamborini, Christopher R. “Causal Effects of Retirement Timing on Subjective Physical and Emotional Health.” J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. 68.1 (2013): 73-84. DOI:

[6] Sherry, Ariel, Tomlinson, Jennifer M., Low, Meika, Johnston, Kay, and Feeney, Brooke C. “Apprehensive about retirement: Women, life transitions, and relationships.” Journal of Women & Aging 29.2 (2017): 173-184. DOI:

[7] Van der Heide, Iris, van Rijn, Rogier M., Robroek, Suzan J. W., Burdorf, Alex, and Proper, Karin I. “Is retirement good for your health? A systematic review of longitudinal studies.” BMC Public Health 13.1180 (2013). DOI: 10.1186/1471-2458-13-1180.

[8] Syse, Astri, Veenstra, Marijke, Furunes, Trude, Mykletun, Reidar J., and Solem, Per Erik. “Changes in Health and Health Behavior Associated with Retirement.” Journal of Aging and Health 29.1 (2015): 99-127. DOI: 10.1177/0898264315624906

[9] Belbase, Anek, Khan, Mashfiqur, Munnell, Alicia H., and Webb, Anthony. “Slowed or Sidelined? The effect of ‘normal’ cognitive decline on job performance among the elderly.” Center for Retirement Research at Boston College Working Paper. 2015-12. (2015).

[10] Cuijpers, Pim, Berking, Matthias, Andersson, Gerhard, Quigley, Leanne, Kleiboer, Annet, and Dobson, Keith S. “A Meta-Analysis of Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy for Adult Depression, Alone and in Comparison with other Treatments.” The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry 58.7 (2013): 376-385. DOI: 10.1177/070674371305800702

[11] Gingerich, Wallace J., and Peterson, Lance T. “Effectiveness of Solution-Focused Brief Therapy.” Research on Social Work Practice 23.3 (2013): 266-283. DOI: 10.1177/1049731512470859.

[12] Khoury, Bassam, Lecomte, Tania, Fortin, Guillaume, Masse, Marjolaine, Therien, Phillip, Bouchard, Vanessa, Chapleau, Marie-Andree, Paquin, Karine, and Hofmann, Stefan G. “Mindfulness-Based Therapy: A comprehensive meta-analysis.” Clinical Psychology Review 33.6 (2013): 763-771.

[13] Earl, Joanne K., Gerrans, Paul, and Halim, Victor Aryanto. “Active and Adjusted: Investigating the contribution of leisure, health, and psychosocial factors to retirement adjustment.” Leisure Sciences: An Interdisciplinary Journal 4. (2015): 354-372.

[14] Dufouil, C., Pereira, E., Chene, G., Glymour, M. M., Alperovitch, A., Saubusse, E., Risse-Fleury, M., Heuls, B., Salord, J. C., Brieu, M. A., and Forette, F. “Older Age At Retirement is Associated with Decreased Risk of Dementia.” European Journal of Epidomiology 29.5 (2014): 353-361. DOI: 10.1007/s10654-014-9906-3.

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