Retired Life in the Presence of Parkinson's Disease
Last updated: August 2023
After 3 years of phased retirement, getting mentally and emotionally prepared for the event, retirement happened. And, as Nina Simone sings, "It's a new dawn / It's a new day / It's a new life for me / And I'm feeling good."
Below is a list of suggestions to consider once you and your Parkinson's have retired. And your healthcare is of primary importance.
Find a new beginning
One should begin retired life in a positive and hopeful manner. However, unfortunately, our life was meant to be partnered with Parkinson's. Sadly, we pulled the "short straw," yet we must get past it. I am convinced that Parkinson's is not some form of punishment but a challenge for us to live and see life differently.
Our lives are being pushed beyond normal boundaries of discomfort. Still, it can make us stronger, more resilient, and wiser in life around us. So, it can help if you stay focused on living life to the fullest. You have earned retirement, but stay persistent as you live strong against Parkinson's.
Find your purpose
Life may have had more daily purpose and order when you were working. Your leadership skills may have been needed and regarded. Others may have valued your word and feelings. Furthermore, your purpose and talent are no longer required since you have retired.
Your breadth and importance may have shrunk from your past career, but it does not diminish the value and respect earned from any new task or goal in your retired life. On the contrary, accepting this difference will help you assimilate your new life and role and add to your happiness.
For instance, my academic teaching and research career has ended; now, I have learned how to assemble a bookcase and patio furniture and perform yard care maintenance like dethatching the grass. Collectively, these are new skills and roles for me, but it gives me purpose.
Create your path
We grow in many ways during the time through adulthood. This growth and self-fulfillment do not have to end when one retires. Your unique perspective on life remains, but how do you stay fulfilled in retirement? You may be ready to maximize your abilities and use new resources. This process may vary for everyone, so the possibilities are almost endless.
Do you work part-time? Do you and your family travel? Do you fulfill a creative side never expressed? Do you invest time in a new recreation or sport? Then, go out on a limb, and take a class in something you have always been interested in but never had the time. Now, time should not be an excuse. The path to follow is uniquely yours. The canvas you paint is your decision; your palette is wide open. Importantly, it is your pace, options, and your choices.
For instance, I am likely the worst beginning guitar player, but I do cherish the time practicing. I may never understand the complexity of composing music. Still, I enjoy my mini-keyboard linked to a computer allowing me to create many different kinds of sound.
My golf game is improving with dedicated practice. There will be time eventually for tennis and pickleball, it can be added either before or after the bike ride. In addition, I am taking a lawn care class this summer at the local university.
Stay involved and connected
It is easy to get disconnected after one retires; thus, you must try to reconnect or become more tuned in to your current environment.
Help manage and learn more about your Parkinson's by attending and participating in a local support group. Find somewhere to volunteer in your community. Your service will be both appreciated and valued. If you miss work that much, finding a part-time job or consulting in your former line of work may be fulfilling and help others. One can never devalue your knowledge and experience.
Make sure you understand the latest in communications on cell phones and computers. The recent pandemic may have taught you all these skills. However, if not, take advantage and get connected. Your family is still yours whether they visit in person or chat through a computer from their kitchen.
Prioritize your health in the presence of Parkinson's
Stay active through physical activity and exercise and participate in sports. Keep reading and learning actively. Flexing your brain internally through cognitive activities and externally by exercise and physical activity will force your Parkinson's to loosen its grip somewhat on your brain and body.
Let your healthcare team of physicians know you have retired. If you move, finding a new healthcare team is of utmost importance. The continuance of your care is vital.
For many of us, retiring eliminates a lot of stress. Less stress is a big plus for you as you battle Parkinson's. No doubt stress may still exist or even arise in retirement, but now you have more time to manage it.
You should report any signs of altered mental awareness, depression, vivid dreams, or changes in mood to your healthcare team. Managing your Parkinson's is crucial now as you enjoy retired life.
Get up and get going for your health and well-being. Stay active, be focused on yourself, and control your Parkinson's. Live long and stay healthy.
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