Though retirement brings freedom and excitement, it can also bring loneliness and stress from changes to longstanding routines and schedules. In this Q and A, Kate Schaefers, director of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at the University of Minnesota, answers questions about easing the transition to retirement and embracing this next stage of life. 

Schaefers delves into common topics such as timing (How do you know it's the right time to retire?), the shift from saving to spending, a trend toward "unretirement," and resources and strategies for planning and creating structure and routine. 

Schaefers is also asked about some of the unexpected challenges people might face in retirement. Her response:

"We underestimate the importance of friendships, teamwork, and sense of belonging that comes from our work. Despite best intentions to stay in touch, co-workers move on without us—a sobering reality. Too often, retirees struggle to find new friends and social networks. Strong relationships are more important than anything else when it comes to happiness, health, and longevity, according to longitudinal data from Harvard University. That’s why ready-made communities like OLLI are so valuable for retirees."

"Lifelong learning is key to an active retirement, and nothing beats the enrichment that comes from a community of learners. OLLI offers hundreds of courses to spark your curiosity, book clubs and special interest groups to connect you with peers, and opportunities to volunteer your talents to the community."

Read the complete interview in Talking Happy and Healthy Retirement with U of M.