6 threats to a rewarding retirement after a career in EMS
From concerns over financial security to the physical and mental toll a career in EMS takes, providers should be preparing for retirement now
By Lynzie Wolters and Crystal Kanada
A career in EMS is rewarding but challenging, as EMS professionals are exposed to high levels of physical and mental stress as they save lives and provide critical care. However, providers also face unique risks during retirement that are important to acknowledge and address.
Let’s discuss some of the risks EMS professionals may encounter before and after retirement and explore strategies to mitigate them.
1. Physical health risks
The physical demands of an EMS career can take a toll on the body over time. EMS professionals often face the risk of developing chronic health conditions such as back problems, joint issues, and cardiovascular diseases. It is crucial to prioritize self-care, regular exercise and proper ergonomics throughout their careers to minimize these risks. Before retirement, EMS professionals should consult with healthcare professionals to manage potential health issues and develop a plan for maintaining physical health in retirement.
2. Mental health risks
Providers frequently encounter traumatic incidents and high-stress situations throughout their careers, which can lead to mental health conditions like PTSD, depression or anxiety. These issues may persist into retirement, impacting overall well-being. It is important to prioritize mental health and seek professional help when needed. Paramedic associations and organizations should offer support systems and resources for retired EMS professionals to address mental health concerns.
3. Financial risks
EMS professionals often earn modest salaries, and retirement benefits or pension plans may not be as robust as those in other professions. Saving enough for retirement can be challenging, especially if unforeseen circumstances, such as disability or injury negatively impact their ability to work and save. Providers should seek financial planning advice to ensure they can meet their financial needs during retirement. Exploring additional retirement savings options, such as individual retirement accounts (IRAs) or other investment strategies, can help mitigate financial risks.
4. Social isolation
Retirement can lead to a sense of isolation and loss of identity, particularly in professions that emphasize camaraderie and teamwork. Retired providers may find it challenging to replace the close social connections they formed during their careers. Building a strong support network, connecting with fellow retired EMS professionals and engaging in community organizations or hobbies can combat social isolation and provide a sense of belonging in retirement.
5. Lack of purpose and fulfillment
After dedicating their lives to saving and helping others, some providers may struggle with finding a sense of purpose and fulfillment in retirement. The sudden shift from an active, fast-paced career to a more relaxed lifestyle can lead to feelings of emptiness or loss of identity. Exploring new passions, volunteering or pursuing further education can help fill the void and bring a renewed sense of purpose in retirement.
6. Lack of post-retirement planning
EMS professionals may not always prioritize post-retirement planning due to limited financial resources or a lack of understanding about its importance. However, failing to plan adequately can result in financial difficulties, inadequate healthcare coverage, and limited access to support services. It is crucial for EMS professionals to seek financial planning advice early in their careers, create a budget, and explore retirement options available to them.
Plan ahead to get ahead
EMS professionals face unique risks before and after retirement that require proactive measures to mitigate. By prioritizing physical and mental health, seeking financial planning advice, building a strong support network and exploring meaningful activities in retirement, providers can enhance their overall wellbeing and successfully navigate the challenges of post-career life. It is essential for EMS personnel and relevant organizations to address these risks and provide the necessary resources and support to ensure a smooth transition into retirement.
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About the author
Lynzie Wolters ChFC® RICP® and Crystal Kanada are Registered Representatives offering securities through NYLIFE Securities LLC, Member FINRA/SIPC, a Licensed Insurance Agency and a New York Life Company, (916) 781-7480, 2999 Douglas Blvd., Suite 350, Roseville, CA 95661. Lynzie Wolters is a Financial Adviser offering investment advisory services through Eagle Strategies LLC, a Registered Investment Adviser. Eagle Strategies LLC is a New York Life company. Lynzie Wolters & Crystal Kanada: CA Insurance License Number 0I20911 & 0H92673. Capital Edge Insurance and Financial Services, Inc., is independently owned and operated from Eagle Strategies LLC and its affiliates. Information provided by Capital Edge Insurance and Financial Services is for educational purposes only. Capital Edge Insurance and Financial Services as well as Eagle Strategies LLC and its affiliates do not provide tax, legal or accounting advice. Before taking any related planning actions, consult with your own professional counsel if needed.