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Preparing for Your Parents’ Retirement

How old were you when you realized that your parents were human?

In my case, this epiphany didn’t take place until recently during my mother’s first year of retirement. During this time, I found myself on quite the emotional rollercoaster while helping her navigate through situations that I didn’t expect to encounter. Before my mom retired, having received a heads up on the following would have made this transition a bit smoother.

Remember they need your support.

Whether voluntary or involuntary, retirement is a major transition. It creates an incredible change in routine, which can result in an intense amount of uncertainty. With this new shift, you may find yourself in a slight role reversal as you may notice your parents may require assistance with health issues, emotional support, money or even a place to live. It’s important to handle these types of situations with compassion and generosity. Make sure you are checking in with your parents often to ensure they are able to manage their new lifestyle.

Help them enjoy their new free time.

Your parents have way more time now than they’ve ever had before. Some people know exactly what they want to do with their time when they retire, while others may find that the absence of work makes them restless. Make sure you are there to reassure them that they’ve made the right decision. Help them create a bucket list of activities that they have been meaning to do, book vacations, or join organizations they’d like to be a part of. Remember that quality time with their children is usually always something that parents would be interested in as work may have cut into that time in the past.

Prepare to empathize. 

It is important to be patient with your parents now more than ever. No matter how hard they’ve planned for this day financially, it still can bring out emotions that even they aren’t prepared to deal with. We may have a hard time identifying with their feelings, as most of us are just beginning the workforce journey that our parents are transitioning out of. However, it is important to help your parents work through this time of uncertainty by simply making yourself available for whatever support they may need. Empathy is crucial at this time.

Often, parents are seen as super heroes in our eyes. They are all knowing, all seeing invincible creatures that we admire. In most cases, we don’t fully appreciate our parents as independent people until we find ourselves encountering similar experiences.  Being able to retire is a luxury that speaks highly of your parents’ ability to prepare and achieve long-term goals. When helping them move forward in this new stage in their lives, make sure you are taking notes and using their experience as a guide when creating your retirement plans.