Retired, now what?

  1. 5
    I have worked 29 years as an RN and am now retired due to a medical issue. How do I adapt? I so miss the giving of care, the day to day emergencies, the (yes) charting. Nursing was so much a part of my sole, my being. The first 18 years in peri-natal, the last 11 years in Alzheimer's - dementia and geriatrics. Two years ago I was one of the 25% to survive a ruptured brain aneurysm.

    No one would hire me. Retirement was abrupt. I able to admit now that physically and mentally I am no longer able to nurse. It has taken 2 long years for me to recognize this.

    The prognosis was not good. Plans were being made to put me in a nursing home. With my stubborn nurses's will I refused. I am now self sufficient physically, not financially. The facilities I worked in had no retirement, no 401k. There is no compensation for all the years I gave my time, my family time, my week ends and holidays. I wound up with mega-bills even after insurance payments. I get by..barely on social security.

    My biggest problem is that I so miss caring for people. I miss giving my eight hours of love and concern to my patients. I miss procedures that are so routine to those of you still on the floor. I miss little things like starting IVs, monitoring wounds, seeing a short moment of lucidity in a Alzheimer's - dementia patient. I miss creeping into a elderly patient's room at the end of the shift, just to hold their hand and smooth their forehead. I miss the trusting smile.

    I was able to care for two friends in their terminal last days as a nurse. I kept them in their own homes for their last days. That was my goal. I would not have had this opportunity if I were still working. I was also able to use my long embedded nursing skills to save two lives in odd places.

    What do I do now..just sit and watch TV. Play on the computer, knit? I know I still have the skills, the love in my heart for nursing, but the physical, mental, endurance is gone. The loss of nursing is almost at devastating as the loss of a loved one.

    Those of you just starting out in your profession, know this...You may have bad shifts, become frustrated with "the system" burned out...what ever the term... looking back, it was all worth it.

    Just tell me what is there for me to do now????
    Bubbles, jahra, dionnedillon, and 2 others like this.

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  2. 34 Comments...

  3. 2
    What about teaching? Volunteering with the Red Cross? The school system?
    sweetnurse63 and jahra like this.
  4. 2
    I admire your perseverance. It takes a lot to fight your way back from what you've suffered. It's a shame that we don't take better care of our nurses after they've spent so many years giving care to others.

    What about volunteering? It might not fill your wallet, but it might help your soul. I've volunteered at public schools in my area to give vaccinations. It's fun to work with kids, and I enjoy meeting nurses from different specialties who like to volunteer as well. It's a short-term commitment, just a few hours at a time during the fall months. Schools also look for substitute nurses.

    Another alternative might be hospice. I would think nurses would find someone with your experience invaluable as a volunteer.

    Good luck to you. It's out there. Someone who perseveres as you have is bound to find it.
    sweetnurse63 and jahra like this.
  5. 3
    Oh my gosh, you are in a perfect position to be living my dream, which is to be a volunteer nurse! Do it for four hours or forty hours. Either way you'll make an impact. There are so many lonely folks in nursing homes that would love to have you. Hospice would be a great place too. Nurses are so overworked and they would welcome your help as a sitter, as an extra pair of eyes, as a baby rocker. I can think of so many things, whatever your physical, and mental health would allow. Have you considered it? Sounds like you survived a devastating injury. I would like to thank you for your 29 years of service as a nurse, and wish you the best of luck whatever you decide to do.
    Bubbles, sweetnurse63, and jahra like this.
  6. 3
    You need to use your nursing skills to help yourself now.

    1. Assess your current abilities. What can you still do physically? What skills and knowledge do you have that could be of use? What opportunities exist in your community to use those skills and that knowledge? Make lists.

    2. Diagnose you level of functioning ... and begin matching your abilities to the opportunities available

    3. Plan -- Make a plan to begin trying out some of those activities on your lists. Which possibilities interest you most? Which suit your needs the best?

    4. Intervene. -- Give a few things a try to see what works and what doesn't.

    5. Evaluate -- Which things work out for you and which ones don't?

    6. Modify plans as needed and keep trying until you find something that works. Maybe it will be a physically easy, part-time job in a totally different field. Maybe it will be some volunteer work. Maybe it will be some combination. Who knows? But you will never find it until you start the process ... the good old nursing process that you know so well.

    Best wishes to you.
    jahra, gryffnsgram, and traumaRUs like this.
  7. 1
    I agree with PP...volunteer!! either in a nursing home, hospice center, for the Red Cross? Look at what you are able to do, and go for it. I know the American Cancer Society is always looking for volunteers also. I don't know if there is a financial component, that you were looking for to help your that case, volunteering might not be an option?
    You made a difference all those years working as a nurse, you can still make a difference, even if you can no longer work as an RN. Volunteers don't get paid because they are priceless...we couldn't function without them.
    You have persevered quite a bit surviving a ruptured brain aneurysm, and I am so glad for you that you have overcome all of the possible complications associaited. I hope you are able to find something that will fullfill you and make this feeling of "what to do?" go away for you.
    Best of luck!!
    jahra likes this.
  8. 2
    If there is a Walgreens in your area they hire nurses to do screenings, five flu shots, etc. If not Walgreens, maybe a clinic.
    sweetnurse63 and jahra like this.
  9. 3
    You sound just like me. I retired in May due to health conditions. I'm getting chemo and waiting on a date when the surgeon tells me he thinks I'm healthy enough for a wipple procedure. I now have pancreatic cancer, after my other illness. I was a nurse for 26 years. I miss it for the same reasons you do.
    I hope after I get the cancer taken care of I can at least volunteer. There is a free clinic in town where I have volunteered before.
    Good luck to you. You are lucky to be alive.
    I haven't thought about teaching, because I don't think I have those skills, plus I just have a Adn.
    I want to do hands on care again, I'll just have to see how it goes with the with the surgery and recovery.
    I don't think unless you are a nurse you could understand how we feel. Please take care of yourself.
    Bubbles, sweetnurse63, and jahra like this.
  10. 1
    I am content now after being disabled for the last 3 yrs. Actually enjoying the freedom of not being at someones beck and call. My health issue and its complications has messed with my short term memory. Not good if you need to care for someone elses needs. Teaching and such all require a committment and long hours. I do keep up on nursing issues. They are not so pressing anymore. Perhaps you can get work in a staffing agency. Also there are jobs in monitoring telementy where you just sit and watch the monitors. Boring of course, but various staff do visit for a few minutes I have found. So I guess you should set up a resume' that highlights your present abilitys. I do keep in contact thru Face Book with my former staff members. I worked this one floor for nearly 20 years. As for bringing in extra money, I just started selling my overload of books and CD's, DVD's on Some sell stuff on Ebay and Craigs list. So that may be an idea. Good Luck.
    jahra likes this.
  11. 1
    One of my colleagues had an abrupt medical retirement and now volunteers doing foot care at a homeless shelter. Another wrote her memoirs of her nursing career. This helped her process the pain of retirement and celebrate her accomplishments in a way that really helped her grief in a significant way. My daughter use to work at a homeless shelter and Salvation Army campus of care and I think that is where I will volunteer one day. We just can't stop caring. I volunteered at Hospice once. That can be quite medical, depending on what you do, and meet that need to care.
    jahra likes this.

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