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50+: Live Better, Longer

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Having a Happy Retirement

For many retirees, free time takes an emotional toll.

Getting a Plan continued...

"If a person arrives at retirement having given no thought to it," says Rhoda FrindellGreen, Ph.D., a New York City psychological consultant specializing in career and business planning, "it could be quite a jolt and it could create anxiety, depression, or any number of reactions."

Men often have a harder time with retirement than women do, Loftus says. For many men, work has been the central focus of their lives. But many women have focused not only on work but also on family and household responsibilities -- concerns that continue past retirement. For these women, retirement is a less abrupt change in their lives.

Retirement Resources

So where can people turn for help? Loftus recommends the book Comfort Zones, by Elwood Chapman, as a place to start. Or find a friend who's gone through the same thing. "Sometimes a good way to plan," she says, "is to talk to someone who is retired and ask, 'What went well, what didn't, what do you suggest?'"

Seeing a career counselor like Green could also uncover new options. "I suggest that people visualize what would be an ideal day after retirement," Green says.

Changing Your Path

Planning ahead is important, but it's not enough by itself. Just ask Amanullah. He was in the middle of planning how to get out of his retirement rut when he took a trip to his homeland of India in 1993 -- and found his calling in the process.

India startled him. "It's such a vast, stark, different living style," he recalls. "I thought, these people are so poor, so impoverished, and we take everything for granted. And suddenly the thought occurred to me, hey, why don't I use my time trying to help these people?'"

He set up the Qamar Relief Organization, named in honor of his mother. He has built a school, an office building, and an orphanage. He's spent about half of his $100,000 retirement nest egg. And he now spends about six months in India and six at his home in Orange County. A staff of two oversees operations in India while he's away.

He's discovered that retirement can be the best years of your life. "I am so engrossed in what I'm doing," he says, "and it gives me so much pleasure."

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