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Wisconsin Retirement Experts: We’re Doing It All Wrong

With 8,000 Americans retiring every day, retiree advocates Carol Larson and Mary Helen Conroy say incorrect stereotypes are making life more difficult for newly retired people. Credit: annatodica/iStockPhoto
With 8,000 Americans retiring every day, retiree advocates Carol Larson and Mary Helen Conroy say incorrect stereotypes are making life more difficult for newly retired people. Credit: annatodica/iStockPhoto
December 7, 2015

MADISON, Wis. – Two out of every five Wisconsin retirees are at significant risk of depression upon retirement, according to medical studies cited by the founder of a website designed to help retirees.

Carol Larson and her friend Mary Helen Conroy found so many fellow retired people with problems that they founded RetireeRebels.com to help the 58,000 Wisconsinites who will retire in the coming year.

Larson says too many baby boomers aren't truly ready for retirement.

"I've actually run across some research by psychologists who now add retirement to the list of most significant changes you can have in your life, those being a death in the family, a divorce, marriage, a child – they now add retirement," Larson states.

Conroy says having enough money to retire is always an important issue, but far from the only one.

"I think where the mistake comes in is planning for the lifestyle part – how are we going to live it, what we're going to use the money for,” she says. “And so I think that we don't spend enough time looking at that piece."

Both Larson and Conroy say baby boomers are a purpose-driven generation, and many find it difficult to adjust to a life that's not dominated by work.

Larson says there are many incorrect stereotypes about retired life, including the myth that it will now be a round-the-clock vacation, or that retired people are a drain on society.

For many people, retirement is not so much the end of work, but the beginning of a transition.

"The new model of retirement is now not that you stopped working – it's not an either/or situation – it's whether you change doing the kind of work you do, or the amount of work you do, or both," Larson points out.

Conroy says one of the major issues facing retirees is realizing that they are now going to be permanently out of the loop at their former place of employment, and that their work friends really aren't going to stay in touch with them.

"So we need to look for ways that we can indeed engage with folks again,” she stresses. “So loneliness and depression and suicide are the ugly side of retirement that we know as much as the happy side."

Larson and Conroy say they named their website Retiree Rebels because people need to learn to be a rebel to fight the misleading stereotypes about what retirement really is.


Tim Morrissey, Public News Service - WI