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Assessment and treatment of retirement stress

Hankin C, Bosse R, Spiro A. Assessment and treatment of retirement stress. In: Innovations in Clinical Practice: A Source Book, Volume 17. Professional Resource Exchange, Inc.; 1999.


Retirement from the labor force is a relatively recent life cycle event among workers in the industrialized world. In 1900, life expectancy at birth was 47 and few workers lived long enough to retire. By 1950, when life expectancy had increased to 68 years, national and private pension plans enabled older workers not only to retire, but mandated that they do so at or near age 65. Thus, although a recent 'innovation', retirement has become a normative life cycle event during the last 50 years. Despite the continuing withdrawal of older workers from the workforce, the myth prevails that retirement is a stressful event. In fact, retirement is a positive experience for most older adults. However, research indicates that a small but sizable minority of retirees--approximately 30%--do indeed find retirement to be stressful (Bosse, Aldwin, Levenson, and Workman-Daniels, 1991). In this chapter, we focus on the assessment and treatment of retirement stress for those who may be in this minority. We begin this discussion by presenting recent research regarding predictors of retirement stress. Next, we present guidelines for assessment and treatment that are highlighted by case vignettes.

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