The pivotal role of support systems in ensuring a smooth transition into retirement

Apr 09, 2024
By extending a helping hand and fostering open dialogue, we can ensure that every one's retirement journey is one of resilience, optimism, and a robust network of support. Source: Getty Images.

Retirement marks a significant milestone in one’s life, symbolising the culmination of decades of hard work, dedication, and achievement.

However, for many Australians, bidding farewell to the workforce can evoke a complex array of emotions and challenges.

As more than 100,000 individuals across the nation prepare to embark on this journey in the coming year, it’s crucial to recognise the multifaceted nature of this transition and the importance of providing support to those undergoing this profound change.

Geoff Leary, a retired school principal, shared his insights into the challenges of this new chapter.

“It can be hard to have so much on your plate each day, then to turn around and feel, well, there’s nothing really that I need to do today, that I have to do today,” Leary explained.

Leary’s sentiments echo those of many retirees who grapple with the loss of routine, identity, and purpose that often accompany leaving the workforce, underscoring the importance of support from friends and family that can help people better manage this transition.

According to Rachel Clements, Director of Psychological Services at the Centre for Corporate Health, the support of friends and family plays a crucial role in helping individuals navigate this transition.

“As a loved one, friend or colleague of someone retiring, it is important to be aware retirement can be both a celebratory and challenging time,” Clements said.

“Signs someone might be struggling include irritability and frustration, withdrawing from usual activities, and sleep disturbances.

“If someone in your world is retiring, keep in touch and have regular conversations with them about how they’re really going. So, if they do find themselves struggling, they know you’re someone they can talk to.”

Research from R U OK? confirms that meaningful discussions can make a tangible difference, with over four in five individuals reporting feeling better about managing their situation after engaging in such conversations. However, initiating these dialogues, particularly for men, can pose a challenge.

“Blokes find it quite difficult to share feelings; I know I do. I think the best way to encourage more open conversations is to create trust with people around you,” Leary shared.

“I’ve found catching up regularly, not being judgmental, and just listening after you’ve asked has been the best way to build that trust.”

Recognising that each retiree’s journey is unique, Clements encourages individuals to inquire about the support needed and to genuinely listen to the responses.

“It can be helpful to ask questions like, ‘Can I support you with this?’ or ‘Is there anything I can do?’” Clements said.

In the spirit of fostering supportive communities, the When Life Happens, ask R U OK? series aims to explore ways to navigate life’s inevitable ups and downs.

By extending a helping hand and fostering open dialogue, we can ensure that everyone’s retirement journey is one of resilience, optimism, and a robust network of support.


Visit for tips on how and when to ask meaningfully, ‘are you OK?’ when life happens, so the people important to us know they’re not alone.

If you or someone you know needs extra support, contact information for national support and services is available at:

Lifeline Australia provides free and confidential crisis support at any time of day or night. Call 13 11 14, text 0477 13 11 14, or chat online at

13YARN is a free 24/7 service offering crisis support for Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people. Call 13YARN (13 92 76).

MensLine Australia is a free 24/7 service offering support for Australian men. Call 1300 78 99 78 or chat online at

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