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Five Steps to a Happy Retirement

Retirement is a major life event with a psychological impact that can’t be underestimated. For some, it’s the first time they’ve been truly free to follow their dreams and wishes. Days are no longer dictated by work or family commitments. With children grown and the career ladder climbed, retirees can have so much freedom it can feel overwhelming or even a little scary.

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Where can you begin with this wide-open phase of life? Here are five ways to have a happier, more fulfilling retirement.

1. Take an objective look at your health and how you live.
It’s never too late to focus on healthier living. Look at your diet and daily exercise level. Make lifestyle changes than can help you live independently, longer. Be certain your finances are in order, too. Are there any major considerations ahead such as selling your home or relocating?

Paradise Valley Estates resident Pat Williams remembers how frustrating the upkeep of her home was after her husband passed away. “There was always something to repair. The last straw was something very small, but my son wasn’t close enough to come by and I didn’t have anyone to call,” says Pat. “I was fed up.”

2. Remember that this is your time.
During career and family years, your needs rarely come first. Once retired, many people continue to think and behave as they did when they were still rushing each morning to catch the train. PVE residents Marilyn and Bob Isherwood, who enjoy a busy social life that includes bocce and dance, liken their retirement to being on a cruise ship. “We’re not isolated here and feel like we have a much better social life now. We have a life beyond our kids and grandkids.”

3. Never stop learning.
If you’re able, now’s the time to plan that trip to Europe that you’ve always wanted to take.  Why not learn Italian, or try your hand at yoga? Maybe you’d like to take a few classes at the local college. PVE resident Bruce Bartels appreciates that he and his wife, Nancy, can travel at will. “We’re able to lock the door and go. Everything’s all taken care of,” he says.

4. Get creative.
People who retire sometimes long for a creative outlet. Try taking up painting or joining a poetry workshop. Even gardening can provide huge creative satisfaction. PVE resident Linda McCrory says there are plenty of interesting new activities to experience and learn in retirement. “Sometimes you have to really plan your activities because there’s so much on the calendar,” she laughs.

5. Live with purpose.
Finally, discover a new purpose in your life. Volunteering can provide tremendous satisfaction, often greater than the satisfaction people enjoyed during their career. Think of a great cause or charity that means something to you. It’s easy to become involved in causes, charities or simply to lend a hand where it’s needed in your community. Linda McCrory has combined two of her passions: volunteering and her two Chihuahuas. Twice a month, she and her dogs, both of whom are certified therapy dogs, pay visits to the residents of Laurel Creek and Quail Creek, Paradise Valley Estates’ skilled nursing and assisted living residences.

No matter when and where you retire, it’s important to be open to change and to new experiences. Make the most of the precious gift you’ve been given: life.