Psychological Effects of Retirement

Retirement is the period when one is no longer employed, that is, one stops working completely. Being a major life change, retirement is associated with wide ranging psychological effects.

The impact depends on an individual’s personal circumstances and temperament, one’s gender as well as the profession or career path experienced in the course of their working life. The negative impact is worse for one whose retirement in involuntary, for instance through early retirement by the employer on medical grounds. A person’s marital status has bearing on their mental health at this time and the adverse effects of retirement are markedly reduced for those in a happy stable marriage or relationship. Being financially unprepared is a leading cause of psychological disturbance in this period even though the effects are also felt by those who have fiscal security. It is clear, that there is a direct link between a retiree’s psychological health and their financial security in retirement.

Perhaps, it may be helpful to beginning this article with an analysis of psychological impact of retirement. These are numerous but three key effects will be discussed here. They are loss of identity and status, stress and depression.

Loss of Identity and Status

The retired individual may experience loss of identity, status and purpose. One may fail to accept and adjust to their new realty and proceed with their daily routine as if still in employment to no avail for a long period after the retirement date. Such a person will be obsessed with the talk of their past achievements as they are not yet able to focus on possible future successes. Again, one may experience loss of youth and relevance in the community especially in a society with age discrimination. It is these feelings that would probably lead a retired man(person) to invest his pension lump sum in a younger wife.

Stress Levels

Stress levels may increase or decrease on retirement depending on one’s circumstances. One may be more relaxed as they are not obliged to fulfill any work routine therefore there is no more sense of pressure. On the other hand, stress levels may increase if an individual has medical problems, is less mobile, idle and has inadequate social interaction


Depression is a sense of great sadness that persists for a lengthy period of time. It may arise from a reduction in social interaction and loss of purpose. Depression set in strongly if the retiree is single as loneliness also affects them. Woman who have over life derived their sense of identify from career and motherhood now face a future with neither employment nor children to nurture which may lead to depression. One may tend to grieve for their past life and any success that they had hoped to achieve and have not met before their retirement.

Retirees in Nigeria may experience these effects on a magnified scale for several reasons:

Traditionally, parents relied on their children and extended family members for support in their old age. This is often no longer possible given the atomization of the society and the fact that even where willing to support parents, children may not be able to do so. The difficult economic times and lack of jobs among the youths hinder financial support to parents, Indeed, there are many instances when retired parents has to support children who are of age and their families. 

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Secondly culture and attitude change among the youths also means that they may not inclined to support parents even where they may financially capable to do so. This realization for retiring Nigerian Parents can be de-stabilizing. Many of the younger generation live in Diaspora and while they may offer financial support, they may not adequately provide the required psychological and social support owing to geographical separation from their parents.

More so, there is no known social security system for the retirees in Nigeria and thus, retirees have to cater for themselves. Some retirees then opt to look for menial jobs or call it consulting services or the supplies of stationeries etc. This is not the type of retirement that should be is desired or prayed for but a sign of failing to plan for retirement. There is a popular saying “that failing to plan is planning to fail”. It is imperative therefore that one prepare adequately for retirement. To do this effectively, one must start as early as from fifteen years or more before the actual retirement age.

Preparing Tips for retirement

Plan what you’re going to do with your time. When you’ve been working very hard and you’ve been working long hours, you tend not to have had any time for hobbies.
Start thinking about a hobby or interest that you would like to pursue.

Find friends, because your social circle gets smaller when you leave work. You can join a club, do an evening class, or simply invite a neighbor in for coffee.

Be positive and go out and do things. There are so many free things to do in Lagos. When you become a retiree, you can feel like you lose your identity. But you still have a contribution to make to life as an older person.

Don’t be negative, look for the positive things in life and meditate on them, every night before you go to bed try to think of 10 good things that have happened positively.

Try to grasp technology, it’s not the easiest of things but technology can really allow you to do a lot of things – it allows you to keep in touch with family all over the world and learn so many different things.
Dennis Orogun
Head, Resource Benefits Association
Insurance Brokers of Nigeria

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