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Date of last update: 8/24/2017.

Forum Name: Psychiatric Topics

Question: Post-retirement syndrome

 Snapester - Mon Jan 12, 2009 11:25 am


I'm writing this on behalf of my mom, she just retired from her work (age: 58) she had a very bad childhood and her mom passed away when she was just 13. She always expects her to give over attention and excessive praise and all these years she had been getting it from her colleagues. Now she expects the same from us (even though we are never perfect for her and she bosses around a lot). She is also very adamant and would never ever admit she is wrong.

It is becoming very tough these days for us to handle her as she always starts the day criticizing someone or talking pessimistically.

Is she suffering from depression? If so, how could we handle her as she would never agree for any kind of treatment cos she would never admit she has got a problem. What do we do now?
 Debbie Miller, RN - Tue Jan 20, 2009 11:10 pm

User avatar Hello,
I am impressed with your compassion and desire to help your mom rather than just complaining as many would do.

You are probably right that certain needs of hers were being met through her job. Depression is a common unrecognized condition among seniors and early retirees. Perhaps you could search for a magazine article or book that addresses this - something she might consider reading without pressure. Local health departments also have aging services and they might have a resource you could contact for ideas and suggestions.

She might feel comfortable talking to someone other than a therapist at this point, even a family doctor. Has she taken care of her health and had regular physical exams? It might be worthwhile to be sure she is doing the recommended screenings and you might suggest to her physician that it would be helpful to bring up the subject of her life changes that occurred with retirement.
Her doctor can't tell you anything about her condition without her permission, but you can give the doctor information you have that might be helpful to her health evaluation and treatment. The doctor can take he information and combine it with his/her exam, interview and recommendations.

Your mother is still quite young and could still pursue interests. I wonder if she might find a hobby to pursue that could allow her to use that energy in a way that would make her happier and divert her attention from you at the same time.

There are so many worthy volunteer projects out there. Many local newspapers appeal to people who can give a little time to do secretarial jobs, answering phones, guiding tours of historical sites, etc. Genealogy is one of the fastest growing hobbies in the world and it takes lots of time but is very rewarding to find lost ancestors and it causes many people to do some introspection as well. There are many family history centers around where skills can be learned through classes and volunteer guides.

Hospitals and schools also need volunteers in various areas. I know a senior who does beautiful stained glass work and she teaches at the senior center. I know another one who started tap dancing with a group of middle-aged and older women. Some women join a group such as the Red Hat club, the Lions, clubs, card-playing teams, etc. I know another retired woman who started piano lessons and enjoyed learning music - something she had always wanted to do. If she likes computers, maybe she could write a blog where she could freely express her opinions in a safe way. Since she is still young and a bit outspoken, perhaps she could teach older citizens to use computers or some other skill.

These kinds of activities can keep her feeling needed and productive. I don't know if she would take suggestions from you but many people who have interests but have no time while working full-time can finally think about those things. If she likes to read, perhaps she could get involved with a local book club, perhaps through your library system or senior center. Trying to encourage activities that would divert her from her grown children might mean the difference between a happy retirement and a frustrating existence.

Good luck and best regards.

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