Five Books to Ease Into Retirement with Thoughtfulness and Grace

“I don’t know how to act my age—
I’ve never been this age before”
–Dori Gilliam

Let’s face it: every chapter in life brings with it trials, tribulations and joys. As human beings, these transitions can bring fear, anxiety and excitement. If you’re approaching retirement, these 5 books are suggested reading, and may help you manage the mental changes coming your way. They are selections that aim to be uplifting and shift the definition of ageism to a positive one: a growth mindset that transforms retirement into an adventure for further exploration.

Women Rowing North: Navigating Life’s Currents and Flourishing as We Age by Mary Pipher

In Women Rowing North, Pipher offers a timely examination of the cultural and developmental issues women face as they age. Drawing on her own experience as daughter, sister, mother, grandmother, caregiver, clinical psychologist, and cultural anthropologist, she explores ways women can cultivate resilient responses to the challenges they face. “If we can keep our wits about us, think clearly, and manage our emotions skillfully,” Pipher writes, “we will experience a joyous time of our lives. If we have planned carefully and packed properly, if we have good maps and guides, the journey can be transcendent.”

Elderhood: Redefining Aging, Transforming Medicine, Reimaging Life by Louise Aronson

As a noted Harvard-trained geriatrician, Louise Aronson uses stories from her 25+ years of caring for patients, and draws from history, science, literature, popular culture, and her own life to weave a vision of old age that’s neither nightmare nor utopian fantasy–a vision full of joy, wonder, frustration, outrage, and hope about aging, medicine, and humanity itself.Elderhood is for anyone who is, in the author’s own words, “an aging, i.e., still-breathing human being.”

Enlightened Aging: Building Resilience for a Long, Active Life by Dr. Eric B. Larson and Joan DeClaire

Enlightened Aging proposes a path to resilience—one that’s proven to help many stave off disability until very old age. The steps on this path include pro-activity, acceptance, and building and maintaining good physical, mental, and social health. Using inspiring stories from Dr. Larson’s experiences with study participants, patients, friends, and relatives, Enlightened Aging will help readers determine what their paths can look like given their own experiences and circumstances. It informs readers of the scientific evidence behind new perspectives on aging. It inspires readers with stories of people who are approaching aging with enlightened attitudes. It offers advice and resources for readers to build their own reserves for old age. It recommends ways for readers to work with their doctors to stay as healthy as possible for their age. And it offers ideas for building better communities for our aging population. While especially relevant to the baby boom generation, this work is really for people of all ages looking for encouragement and wise counsel in order to live a long, active life.

Who Will Take Care of Me When I’m Old? by Joy Loverde

For those who have no support system in place, the thought of aging without help can be a frightening, isolating prospect. Whether you have friends and family ready and able to help you or not, growing old does not have to be an inevitable decline into helplessness. It is possible to maintain a good quality of life in your later years, but having a plan is essential. Who Will Take Care of Me When I’m Old? equips readers with everything they need to prepare on their own.

How to Retire Happy, Wild and Free by Ernie J. Zelinski

Zelinski offers up nothing less than a guidebook to the exotic land known as retirement, where the customs are unexpected and the maps are nonexistent. Enjoying your retirement is about a lot more than money—although adjusting expectations to your financial situation is a necessity. This book offers up concrete exercises that will help you figure out what kind of retirement you want, what kind of retirement you can have, and how to be excited about the combination of the two. Instead of a lot of aphorisms and generic advice, Zelinski walks the reader through tools created to assist in retirement planning, adjustments, and challenges in an effort to insulate your retirement from unexpected challenges. A must-read whether your retirement is years away or already here.

Are you ready for your retirement adventure? I’d welcome what you find out and how these books help you.

Lynn Creasy
*book summaries reprinted from Amazon

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