What To Expect When Your Parents Retire

March 6, 2019  |  
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retirement age

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If you’re in your thirties or older, then you may be facing this interesting phase of life (or rather, someone else’s phase of life): the retirement of your parents. For as long as you can remember, your parents have had an office phone number. They’ve had to take work calls during family time. Maybe they’ve had some quirky employees or coworkers you developed relationships with. They were busy. They were hustling. They were making money and they were working towards something. Retirement can be a frightening transition for many because it feels like now what? It can feel like the only thing they’re working towards is, well, something rather bleak. You may not think it will affect you much when you parents retire, but then you’ll start to notice all the ways it does. Here is what to expect when your parents retire.


They’ll want to visit you more together

They have tons of free time now so that means they’ll want to visit you more often. If you live in the same town, they may just show up at your front door on a Sunday morning. They used to cherish Sundays as their alone time, after a long week at the office. Now, they’re alone all week, and just waiting for you to get off work so they can stop by.


And they’ll visit separately

You may also notice your parents wanting to visit you separately. Here’s a little secret: they aren’t used to having so much time together, and they’re getting on one another’s nerves. “I’m going to visit our daughter” is an easy excuse to get away from each other.


They’ll call you a lot

They’ll call you, possibly several times a day, for what seems like no reason at all. They may just call you to tell you they ran into your old school teacher or there’s a sale on peaches at the grocery store. That’s all. No follow up information.


They may try to do your work

It can be hard for people to give up working. Without their jobs, your retired parents may just try to do your job. Translation: they may pop into your office, wanting to help you strategize, or call you with unsolicited business advice.


They’ll forget about work schedules

Your parents can forget that the rest of the world works, now that they don’t. So, if they call you at 2pm on a Tuesday, and you haven’t called them back by 5:30 pm, they may call again, worried something’s wrong. They forgot you’re just…at work.


They’ll worry about the world more

Something about retirement can make people turn into major worriers. Maybe it’s all that time to watch the news and catch up on all the horrors happening around the world.


They’ll worry about you more

Don’t be surprised if your parents call you and tell you to lock your windows because of a robbery that happened…sixty miles away. You are their baby and now you may be their only hobby.


They’ll try to parent your kids

If you have kids, then expect your parents to become even more involved with their grandkids. They may become more involved than you want them to, signing your kids up for activities without your permission.


There will be some bleak talks

Retirement puts someone pretty face to face with mortality—as close as they can get without a medical event. Your parents may feel like this is the end. So get ready for talks about wills, testaments, and funeral arrangements. It may feel a bit dramatic, but it’s a part of having aging parents.


They’re always going through drawers

Several times a week, your retired parents will call you to tell you they’re going through old boxes, and want to know if you still need that one t-shirt from fourth grade.


They can be sensitive about feeling needed

If they want to help you paint the nursery or plan your kid’s birthday party, just let them help. They are very sensitive to feeling not needed right now.


They can have a three-quarter-life crisis

Remember their mid-life crisis? Yeah, well, they may have a three-quarter-life one, too. You may see some sports cars and eccentric haircuts popping up.


They’ll develop weird obsessions

They need something to fill the massive void that their careers left behind. So they may get into collecting porcelain turtle figurines or puppets.


They may get a fur baby

With no child in the house and grandkids too busy to see them, your retired parents may get a fur baby aka a dog. And they may truly treat this animal like a baby, buying it clothes, giving it the good guest room on holidays, and letting it sit at the table.


Just be patient and sensitive

Try to remember your parents are going through a huge transition. They will annoy you, frustrate you, and possibly smother you. Don’t let them know you feel that way. Whatever you’re feeling about it, they’re feeling much more.

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