GROWING OLD – LOSS OF INCOME

A retired man usually suffers a loss of income, he becomes poorer, and is less able to do the things he imagined he could do. His status is lower, and because he is no longer earning his living, he may even feel he has lost his significance as a person. His fantasies of what his retirement would be like (the country cottage, the fishing, the happy hours of doing nothing, the long lie-in in the morning, the pottering about the house or garden) are often found to be fantasies, when the reality of retirement is reached.

The retired man suffers from two psychological blows: he is classified as old – which in a youth- and work-oriented society is demeaning – and as no longer being a ‘useful’ person in society. He loses caste, he loses income, he loses a reason for living, unless he has prepared for retirement. Retirement makes a radical break in his life, and many men feel cut off from their past, and have to readjust to their new, diminished, status. Many retired people feel useless and fill their hours with trivia, which is a quick way of distancing themselves psychologically from other humans and of welcoming death.

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