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Retirement Is a Process: Things to Think About and Consider PDF Print Email

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By Catherine Nicholas, LCSW, and Richard W. Shoup, DMin, The Counseling Center

Jun. 26, 2019:  Perhaps you can’t wait to retire. You plan meticulously and count down the days. Or perhaps you are so happy with your work, and find such satisfaction in it, you approach your mid-60s with no intention of slowing down. But at some point, a serious consideration of retirement usually becomes inevitable. Retirement might be forced on you by mandatory age limits or because declining strength and mobility make it necessary. If you’ve enjoyed work, you might begin to ask yourself what has made it meaningful, and as you work less, how you can keep doing it in a different way. You might experience a renewed appreciation of the “goodness” you’ve found in helping people or making a contribution and look for other ways to continue doing that.

Some jobs afford the flexibility to step back from professional lives while still remaining in them. Some people give up executive positions, for example, while returning to the roles that first brought them to the profession. Others reduce their hours to one or two days a week. The chance to remain among well-known, respected colleagues while continuing to contribute your skill and experience can be immensely rewarding. So, too, you might find yourself becoming the “wisdom figure” whom others come to for advice and counsel. Those who switch to part-time work often find it gives structure to their days while also affording the freedom to pursue relationships and other interests. 

But many people with full-time jobs don’t have the luxury of cutting back. For them, you’re either all-in or all-out. You might have little control over your work environment, be unable to change or escape difficult situations, and feel very eager for retirement. Yet you face a startling change once you make the leap, one that requires some forethought. Having a general idea of what you want to do in retirement can get you started, but it’s best to leave many aspects unplanned so that you have the flexibility to make new choices along the way.  

It can help to see retirement as a changing time of life, a process, not a goal. People often feel they need to fill every hour of every day, but that can put unnecessary pressure on them. Instead, give yourself a chance to figure it out, and permission to let it evolve. It is ok to feel at sea or lost immediately following retirement. Out of that uncertainty, new ideas and goals can form. In some cases, it can be useful to seek out a trained therapist who can guide you along the way, assisting you in defining your interests and steering you clear of potential pitfalls.  

No doubt, throughout life you’ve had to adapt to changing circumstances. You may have confronted illness, divorce, great loss. You might have suffered professional challenges and reversals. Retirement can be seen as another transition, a period in which to appreciate what you’ve had, feel grateful for it, and learn to let go when the time is right.

Often when one steps back from a professional role, whether partly or completely, the lessening of status and influence are keenly felt. Consider the example of a highly respected dentist with a long, successful career who was forced out of his practice at the age of 75 and never recovered his lost sense of purpose. Yet sometimes just as the old falls away, new opportunities open up: offers of professional or volunteer work that arise from previous experience, for example, or new causes and interests you’ve only recently discovered. Sometimes, just as you begin to lose status and influence, they may begin to seem less worth pursuing in any case; gradually, you may find deeper meaning in furthering your relationships, whether it’s with family and friends or in casual interactions. Often at this stage of life, daily tasks and ordinary work take on new significance. 

Retirement can be a time to try new things. You might take courses, join a book club, attend music rehearsals, and travel. It can be great fun to finally turn the items on your “bucket list” into actual experiences. Now might also be your chance to enhance your exercise routine or to begin one if you haven’t already. Yoga, for example, can be especially beneficial for older people, a way to stay flexible and steady on your feet. But think hard before you give up an activity since at this age you’re not likely to resume it.

It’s important to guard against the deterioration that can come from isolation by finding ways to remain engaged, even if that means choosing an assisted living facility, which offers many activities, instead of remaining in your own home, or sharing space with your children, where you might be left alone most days. Moving someplace new may require more courage and make you feel uncomfortable at first, but over the long term, it might offer greater well-being and independence.

Where to live is often a question couples don’t agree on. If one of you prefers the city and the other the country, or one likes warm weather year-round and the other enjoys a range of seasons, you might be able to split your time between both. It’s important to know where your spiritual home lies. Be sure you plant yourself in a place where you can do what you really want to do.

Friendships, especially long-standing ones, can add enormous richness to lives in retirement. But as the years go by, it’s inevitable that you will begin to lose friends to illness and death. New friends can be wonderful, but they can’t entirely replace the old since they don’t have that shared history of experience, memories, and of who you were years ago. It’s healthy to recall old friends if doing so makes you grateful for what you had and joyful to be reminded of those good times. Then, go on to find pleasure in new places; find value in new friends.

The two halves of a married couple often approach retirement with very different ideas in mind, yet it is possible to find a middle ground that works for you both. Having each other during the retirement years can allow you to have the kind of unstructured together time that you may not have been able to enjoy for years. Whether you create new cherished routines, such as evening walks together after dinner, or pursue separate interests that you talk about afterward, being able to share these experiences can enliven your days.  

In retirement, you may be married or single, working part-time or fully retired, living in a familiar place or somewhere new. Whatever your situation, if you can summon courage as you move forward and stay open to new possibilities, you may find that these later years are deeply satisfying.

Pictured (rotating):  Richard Shoup and Catherine Nicholas.

Photos courtesy The Counseling Center 

Editor's note: As a public service, MyhometownBronxville publishes articles from local institutions, officeholders, and individuals. MyhometownBronxville does not fact-check statements therein, and any opinions expressed therein do not necessarily reflect the thinking of its staff.

 
5K in Honor of Elizabeth Minter in June: Sign-Up Link PDF Print Email

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By Cindy Campbell, Program Director, Children's Brain Tumor Project, Weill Cornel Brain and Spine Center, Department of Neurology, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center

Jun. 12, 2019:  Head for the Cure will be hosting a 5K on Saturday, June 22, at Bronxville High School in memory of Elizabeth Minter, a beloved member of the Bronxville community who lost her life to an inoperable brain tumor at age 21,

All proceeds will benefit the Bronxville charity Elizabeth’s Hope and the brain tumor research lab of Bronxville resident Dr. Jeffrey Greenfield, who founded the Children’s Brain Tumor Project at Weill Cornell Medicine in Elizabeth’s honor. 

Elizabeth's Hope and the Children's Brain Tumor Project are committed to a single goal: to bring hope to children and families who are confronted with the diagnosis of a rare and often incurable brain tumor.

The race starts at 9:00 am at Bronxville High School at 177 Pondfield Road (runners in front, walkers in back), and the Kids’ Fun Run will take place at 10:15 am. 

There will be a “Keeping the Faith” award ceremony immediately following the race at 10:30 am.

Click here to register or donate

Or Click here to Volunteer


Photo by Lois Fiala 

Editor's note: As a public service, MyhometownBronxville publishes articles from local institutions, officeholders, and individuals. MyhometownBronxville does not fact-check statements therein, and any opinions expressed therein do not necessarily reflect the thinking of its staff.

 
Over 200 High School Students and Parents Attend Careers in Medicine Event PDF Print Email

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By Josefa Paganuzzi, Thompson & Bender, for NewYork-Presbyterian Lawrence Hospital

May 15, 2019:  More than 200 high school students and parents, including over a dozen students from Bronxville, attended the fourth annual Careers in Medicine event hosted by NewYork-Presbyterian Lawrence Hospital.

Students from public and private high schools throughout Westchester gained hands-on experience and the opportunity to meet over fifty physicians and clinicians from various specialties and areas in health care (including cardiac, ob/gyn, pediatrics, emergency medicine, orthopedics, surgery, and pharmacy).

Students learned how to intubate and suture mannequins; scope a knee under the guidance of an orthopedic surgeon; and use laparoscopic instruments as if they were performing an actual surgery.

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Joelle Gage, physician extender with Columbia University Irving Medical Center’s department of Orthopedics, demonstrates the correct way to perform an ultrasound of the forearm with a student from the Archbishop Stepanic High School Honor Academy.

The event was created in 2015 by Dr. Matilda M. Taddeo, an internal medicine and cardiology specialist at NewYork-Presbyterian Medical Group Westchester, and Dr. Susan Campanile, an associate professor of medicine at Columbia University Medical Center and an internal medicine physician with NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center, to share their love of medicine and give back to the community. 

Pictured at top (L to R): Dr. Matilda Taddeo, internal medicine and cardiology specialist at NewYork-Presbyterian Medical Group Westchester, Dr. Anthony Pucillo, associate chief medical officer, NewYork-Presbyterian Lawrence Hospital, and Dr. Susan Campanile, internal medicine physician with NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center.

Photos courtesy NewYork-Presbyterian Lawrence Hospital


Editor's note: As a public service, MyhometownBronxville publishes articles from local institutions, officeholders, and individuals. MyhometownBronxville does not fact-check statements therein, and any opinions expressed therein do not necessarily reflect the thinking of its staff.

 
What to Do When Grief Is Prolonged PDF Print Email

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By Jane Benjamin, PhD, The Counseling Center

May 8, 2019:  Grief is a normal response to profound loss. When the connection to a loved one is severed, whether through abandonment or death, the psyche undergoes a trauma that can take a long time to begin to mend. Many factors affect the course of any journey through grief. For example, as the loss sudden or expected? Is it the first such major loss in a person’s life? Is there a support system in place to help the person navigate through grief? Is an underlying mood disorder complicating the situation? Are there unresolved feelings about the loss that need to be worked through?

The symptoms of grief are very similar to the symptoms of a major depressive episode. One experiences a depressed mood, difficulty sleeping, loss of appetite, guilt, anxiety, and sometimes even suicidality. Suicidal thoughts can often focus on a desire to reunite with a loved one who has died. Or in some instances, the suicidal thoughts stem from a loss of hope that the future has anything “good” to offer. All these symptoms are normal when a person is suffering from grief. 

Grief usually lessens with the passage of time and with ample emotional support. But it does tend to take a longer span of time than we are comfortable with in our culture. It is very common for someone who is grieving and in psychotherapy to report that “my family and friends think I should be over this by now.” It is often difficult for loved ones to tolerate the protracted nature of grief, which can persist for many months, if not years.

Sometimes the process of grieving can “stall” and not resolve itself on its own. Psychotherapists call this “pathological grief.” In these instances, rather than the person feeling better, slowly over time, he or she feels more and more depressed and less able to engage in life. Several factors can cause grief to stall in this way. Sometimes a pre-existing, underlying mood disorder catapults the grieving person into an extended period of depression. Sometimes after the death of a loved one, a person can become preoccupied with suicide and fantasies of reuniting with the deceased. If these feelings are short-lived, they can be a normal part of grief, but if they become more intense and involve concrete planning, then the person is at risk and professional help becomes essential.    

Quite often, a person can get stuck in a grief reaction when he or she has unresolved anger toward the lost loved one. That anger can produce intense guilt, which further complicates healing. Sometimes this anger or resentment can be subconscious or is denied by the person. A clinical example might be helpful here:

A 21-year-old man loses his mother to breast cancer. He is just finishing college. He was extremely close to his mother, whom he describes as “doting,” “loving,” and “always aware of my needs before I knew what they were myself.” Following the death, this young man becomes quite depressed and less able to engage in life. After two years, the depression is no better and, in fact, he is withdrawing from relationships and activities more and more. He is working far below his capacity professionally. He develops a significant sleep disturbance and begins to drink himself to sleep at night. He has periodic suicidal thoughts that focus on being reunited with his mother. During treatment, he becomes aware that his mother was more than just “doting” while he was growing up; that, in fact, she was quite intrusive, for example, friending his friends on social media, becoming jealous of the time he spent with peers, and acting very judgmental toward his love interests. His mother’s behavior made him angrier than he realized at the time. When she died, he was filled with longing for his mother and experienced what began as healthy, normal grief. But as his grief grew prolonged and intensified over a couple years, it became clear through therapy that a part of him felt “freed up” by his mother’s death. He found this feeling so abhorrent in himself, and it produced overwhelming guilt. Feeling in any way “good” following her death felt unacceptable and so his grief could not be resolved.

No specific length of time is “normal” for grief to persist. More important is the trajectory of the emotional aftermath. While grief ebbs and flows, the overall trend should be toward healing and a lessening of depressive symptoms. Reaching out for support following a major loss makes a big difference. Sometimes it is enough to seek out a good friend or one of the many different types of grief support groups. For some people, and particularly when depressive symptoms do not improve and even worsen, professional help can be very beneficial. And in instances such as the above example in which there are unresolved feelings toward the person who has left or died, psychotherapy can be essential in assisting the person to truly move on with life.

At The Counseling Center of Westchester, we can provide you with the guidance and support you need to wrestle with painful or confusing feelings surrounding your grief.

Pictured here: Jane Benjamin.

Photo courtesy The Counseling Center

Editor's note: As a public service, MyhometownBronxville publishes articles from local institutions, officeholders, and individuals. MyhometownBronxville does not fact-check statements therein, and any opinions expressed therein do not necessarily reflect the thinking of its staff.

 
Record Turnout for The Counseling Center’s Annual Benefit: See Photos PDF Print Email

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By Ellen Edwards, Member, Board of Directors, The Counseling Center


May 8, 2019:  A record attendance of almost 200 people made for a warm, lively gathering at The Counseling Center’s annual benefit on Friday evening, May 3, at the Bronxville Field Club. 

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In rooms beautifully decorated in pink and white, Counseling Center staff, board members, and friends celebrated the contributions of honoree Rosanne Welshimer. Guests sampled food and drink while participating in raffles and both silent and live auctions. 

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Spirited bidding on a weekend at the Park Hyatt Hotel in Manhattan, tickets to Lincoln Center’s My Fair Lady with a backstage tour, and a private tennis lesson with Patrick McEnroe raised generous sums to support the work of The Counseling Center. 

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The high point of the brief public remarks was Rosanne’s heartfelt story of a neglected young boy she tutored while she was still a college student. The boy had no access to mental health care professionals who might have helped him heal from emotional trauma. Rosanne’s inspiring example of a lifetime of service in the Bronxville community inspired the generosity of others in turn, making the evening a great success.

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Pictured at top:  
Event underwriters with benefit honoree and her husband. From left to right: Carlos and Nancy Vittorini, Doug Cruikshank (wife Lisa not pictured), Rosanne and Mark Welshimer, and Susan and Richard Pink. Also not pictured: John and Margaret Torell.

Photos courtesy The Counseling Center


Editor's note: As a public service, MyhometownBronxville publishes articles from local institutions, officeholders, and individuals. MyhometownBronxville does not fact-check statements therein, and any opinions expressed therein do not necessarily reflect the thinking of its staff.






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