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Get counseling before retirement.

Most pre-retirement counseling available from businesses and other organizations focuses almost exclusively on financial planning. Yet, many individuals also need help dealing with the psychological issues. Some may avoid making crucial decisions about their retirement because they haven't worked through the psychological issues of aging, indicates Virginia Richardson, professor of social work, Ohio State University, and author of Retirement Counseling: A Handbook for Gerontology Practitioners.

Individuals shouldn't put off planning for their retirement until just a few years before they quit, Richardson cautions. She calls pre-retirement a midlife stage, one that most people go through between the ages of 40 and 60. "There is plenty of evidence that people who think about and prepare for retirement adjust better, so people should be encouraged to begin considering retirement by their early 40s."

Most individuals adjust well to retirement, but a significant minority suffer from problems that aren't being addressed. For example, research shows that 17-21% of older people suffer from anxiety, while 12-16% experience serious depression.

A variety of economic and social trends suggest that people seeking retirement counseling will skyrocket in the coming years. There were 39,000,000 retired workers in 1990, and that number is expected to increase as the generation of baby boomers born between 1946 and 1964 ages and leaves work. The amount of retirees also will increase because people are living longer. By 2040, the period of retirement probably will be about 16 years for men and 21 years for women.

Richardson points out that several other trends suggest that more retirees will need help:

* Poverty is expected to increase among retirees. The age of eligibility for Social Security already has risen and will continue to go up. Meanwhile, fewer workers have employer-sponsored pension plans. One study concluded that only 47% of full-time workers have private pension coverage, and that percentage is dropping.

* Involuntary retirements will accelerate as younger workers pressure older ones to retire and as more people work until they are forced to quit by ill health. Others will have to quit to help take care of sick relatives. "Data consistently show that involuntary retirees adjust more poorly to retirement than do voluntary retirees, so there will be a big demand to help them."

* Younger generations today generally are more receptive to psychological counseling than older people are. So coming generations of retirees will be more likely to seek counseling if they need it.
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Publication:USA Today (Magazine)
Date:Sep 1, 1993
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