Early Retirement?

Hello. I am a 56 year old Primary School teacher working full time. I was diagnosed 10 years ago and am trying to decide whether I should take early retirement. I get so tired that at the end of the day, I just want to lie on the floor and let the world go by without me. I am scared of setting the wheels in motion and am trying to avoid the whole process. Has anyone applied for early retirement in teaching? Thanks, Diane.

32 Replies

  • Hello Diane

    I think it is full credit to yourself that you have managed to stay working in such a demanding job for so long since diagnosis. I too was a teacher and retired at 59 ( same time as diagnosis). I think I could have managed a few more years part time but on reflection I am glad I retired when I did. Once the initial shock was over I found that retirement had lots to offer - such as not having to get up so early in morning, not having to plan till late into the evening and not having to run the ever changing and demanding educational gauntlet. I enjoy the opportunity to volunteer, pursue my hobbies and interests, and of course spend quality time with family and friends. I suppose in the end only you can decide whether this is the right course of action for your well being both emotionally and financially. But really it is nothing to be nervous about - if it is right it is right! 

    Taking control of your own retirement future may be better than it sneeking up on you when your energy levels are depleted.

    I wish you well with your decision 


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  • Hello Diane, you've done well to keep working this long. You are close to retirement age anyway, and being at home would probably give you a new lease of life as you could pace yourself better. How about getting the finance dept to calculate your pension ...

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  • I was forced to retire by MR. Parkinson's he would not let me handle any stress. I have not looked back at all and the lack of stress has improved my life more than I can say. If you can manage it and can fill you days I say go for it.

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  • Hi Diane. What do you want - would you like to retire or are there other options you could consider that might work for you? I'm  57 and was diagnosed two years ago but I knew there was something wrong for three years before that and it was definitely impacting on my job - an operations director in a large public sector organisation. I would come home from work and go straight to bed.  Two and a half years ago, I left that job, took my pension, which as I was just 55 was possible and took the summer off - I really needed a bit of time off. Shortly before I was dx'd, I took a part time job running a small charity three days a week. I've never looked back. The important thing for me is that there is quite a lot of flexibility in this job and if I'm having a bad day, I can accommodate it.  I need to work financially - I am the main breadwinner in my family and have two children - but I simply could not sustain the level of work I was doing. It's been a financial hit, and obviously my pension is reduced because I took it early. But we manage ok. 

  • I've followed the same journey as Stevie.  In my case I have since been granted disability and I work 20hrs. for a charity.  Maybe you could work as a substitute teacher.  You still have a lot to offer the younger generation.  I work as a Humane Educator for a locale shelter .  I go out into the schools teaching children about animal welfare and being.  I love doing it !

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    retire retire retire

    I retired at age 61 now I am 68  best 10 years of my life.

    The reduction in stress, access to nap times and the end of struggle to keep up resulted in a reduction in the PD symptoms. Why is it any different for a teacher, plumber or candlestick maker? Except that you  have a nice pension.  Join a Probus club, mostly full of retired teachers. Lots of people I know kept working out of fear and wish they had retired but I never ever met a single person who retired early and was not glad that they did not one. Enjoy yourself, it's later than you think. My wife says that with our pensions we are independently wealthy, as long as we do not actually buy anything.

  • Yes I did and if you can, go for it - still plenty to do in retirement less the stress. Cheers

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  • Hi, like most teachers we don't want to give in. It has to be your decision. If you're finding it hard, go before you leave on downward slope. I had been suffering for 10 years before diagnosis. I had speech aided software, which took a while to get used to. I had a period off with depression and on return struggled to write feedback, felt I was waiting for PD to kick in, stutter, quiet speech, frozen face etc. In the end despite great help from colleagues I retired. You may beentitled to enhancement to pension for the missing years you would've paid in by going early. If off sick as I was, my union negotiated a package whereby I left early and got 3 months severance pay. Do get your Union involved.



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  • HI there. I'm 58 and "reluctantly retired" from teaching primary school some 8 years ago.. i write a lot about it in my blog (see for example :


    In essence, i'd say stay as long as u canned feel u r making a positive contribution to the children. Once ur not feeling that way, it's time to move along and focus on you and yours. good luck!

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  • I retired at 55 following my diagnosis. I was an administrator for a children's mental health program and have not missed the stress. If you can handle it, do it. It has freed time for me to focus on daily exercise, T'ai Chi, PD boxing, PD dance class, the LSVT class and several social clubs, all things I could not have done if I were working. It is odd to focus on myself after years as a wife, mother and caregiver for my parents,but PD has a way of making that happen. Other than working through my acceptance of this disease, life in the here and now is pretty good.

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  • Hi I was never a teacher but had a stressful job all the same as a police specialist dog handler often working long hours and short notice shift changes but since I've taken early retirement I've not looked back I was diagnosed at 48 but now 4 years later I am so happy I did not worry about the money and finally got hold of life keep going its worth it😉

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  • Hi Diane. This might seem a long-winded answer to a simple question but maybe it is the answer you need to read:

    We are all in this together. Some of us have taken control of our health and started doing things that help us to overcome some of the symptoms.

    Pd is still an incurable condition but that does not mean there is nothing we can do about it.

    In 1993, an experiment was carried out in Frenchay Hospital, Bristol, in which 6 stage-4 Pd patients took part. They each had a hole drilled in their head and a catheter inserted, which was joined up by a tube to a pump, and a container and battery to run it. Into this container they placed a substance called GDNF (Glial Derived Neurotrophic Factor) which is produced naturally in the brain. This was produced artificially by a company in the USA called Amgen.

    After 6 months of having the GDNF pumped into the brain, the condition of all of those patients improved beyond the placebo level of at least 30%. Some patients improved considerably more than that. That can be regarded as 100% successful.

    QUESTION. Why did they have to go to all that trouble and expense, when GDNF is produced naturally in the very area of the brain where it is required to repair damaged brain cells? Surely, the money spent on mimicking the GDNF and all the designing of all the equipment to get it into the brain could better have been spent on finding out how to get the brain to produce sufficient quantity of the GDNF to achieve the same result?

    In 2006, at the 1st World Parkinson's Congress held in Washington DC, the results of a study on the affect of exercise on the progression of Pd was announced by Doctors Beth Fisher and Michael Zigmond, and those results showed that many types of exercise produce this GDNF and the results showed varying levels of improvement, with high intensity walking showing the biggest improvement in the condition of the rats, monkeys and Pd patients taking part in the study.

    The probability is that this information has never been passed on to patients, even though it happened 10 years ago.


    Why are our doctors not telling us to do FAST WALKING instead of prescribing medication that does nothing to slow down the progression of Pd?

    The answer to these two questions seems to me to be purely a finacial matter. That is my make on this subject, but I could be wrong.

    However! Just before the Bristol study took place, I was finally diagnosed with Pd, having had many Pd symptoms since 1963, over 29 years before then. I started doing fast walking in 1994 and by 2002, had recovered from most of my symptoms to such an extent that nobody other than neurologists would ever know that I still have Pd.

    I wrote a book about my experience and published the first edition in 2003. This met with a lot of criticism from our local Pd association, of which I had been chairman for five years, at which stage I was booted out of the association, being accused of misleading patients; claiming to be cured, claiming to be cured without the use of medication and using the association to sell my books.

    All of those accusations, which were backed up by two leading neurologists at an Annual General Meeting of the association, were entirely false. I have never claimed to be cured. I mention the medication I took over 50 times in the book. I was asked by the association if they could sell my book, to which I readily agreed. I asked one of those neurologists, at that AGM, where do I claim to be cured? Her answer was, "NO. you don't claim to be cured in your book but that is the IMPRESSION THE READER GETS WHEN READING YOUR BOOK!" Now how can I respond to that?

    Since then, I constantly hear patients tell me that their neurologist told them that I DO NOT HAVE PD, THEREFORE THEY SHOULD NOT LISTEN TO ANYTHING I TELL THEM!

    All this tells me that the medical profession does not want us to get better! That they would prefer that we have holes drilled in our heads and spend the rest of our lives with all this equipment in our brains and bodies, just to keep us symptom-free.

    I don't believe this to be true, although the evidence tells me otherwise. Most of my neurologists have been most helpful and have encouraged me to continue doing the exercise and have willingly given my medical records to Dr Norman Doidge, who wrote his latest book, "The Brain's Way of Healing" in which he wrote a whole chapter on my experience. From his book, I expect that one day, not too far distant, the medical profession will accept that exercise can reverse the symptoms of Pd, and it will be part of their training. But a lot has to happen before that becomes reality.

    In the meantime, patients like you have to continue to take medication that does nothing to slow the progression down and suffer the horrendous side effects of those medications.

    I have started to visit every English-speaking country, at my own initial expense, to show Pd patients how they are immediately able to walk properly, by using their conscious brain to control all their movements. I have not yet met any patient - who is able to stand up on his/her own two legs - how to walk normally! I spoke to over 2500 patients and successfully walked with over 100 patients. If I am spared I would be willing to visit other non-English-speaking countries as well. I do not charge for what I do!

    I have not needed to take any Parkinson's medication for the past 13 years and I still live a 'normal' life at the age of 81 and was able to travel nearly 20 000 kilometres to 7 cities in Australia in one month and immediately afterwards visit 12 different cities and/or venues in New Zealand the next month, without any health problems.

    You would think that Pd patients would be beating down my front door, but they are not. Not until doctors give their approval for what I am doing will others be encouraged to follow suit. I am only one man, doing all this for no reward! What more can I do?


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  • My mom was a wonderful, inspired and inspiring teacher with a K -- 3 credential. I'll never forget any of the anecdotes she shared about the children she taught over the years. She retired a bit early but in retrospect I wish she had retired even earlier. After her PD diagnosis everything changed so quickly. I think the hard thing about retiring for her was the connection she felt with her peers and the enthusiastic respect she enjoyed as a classroom teacher and head of the union. Suddenly I think she felt a bit anonymous. Then suddenly she had a book group, a poet's group, a Scrabble group, a circle of friends with whom she camped, hiked, and went to the theater and the opera. She was active in the Unitarian Church. She traveled to England to visit her brother. I wish this period had been two, three times as long as it was. I don't know whether this story has meaning for you, and it's sure not my place to urge you to retire. I can only say just before she retired my mom was beat. Afterward she seemed to get an infusion of energy. Best of luck to you.

  • Yes. Your story has great meaning for me. Thanks.

  • Diane,

    I am a 67yr old PwP, dxd 12 years & living in the West Midlands (UK). I worked in Special Needs for most of my career in education as a teacher, headteacher, LEA advisor & government consultant. I retired early & like everyone on here & many others I haven't regretted it. Although my condition is deteriorating now most people don't realise there is anything major wrong with me. This is because I have made good use of the time available from retirement to research PD & act on those aspects which I judged most appropriate using the allowances which are available.

    If you decide to go ahead & retire please make good use of your union rep re the funding implications, never attend a meeting without support (specialist social workers, PD nurse, trained volunteer etc) & use the same support networkers to help you complete any forms & countersign them.

    .........& the time........what time?   Tai chi, hydro, physio, acupuncture, giving talks & fundraising for PD, co-ordinating Farmers' Markets & other voluntary work, being a grandmother......there is no time!

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  • Diane.  I have messaged you for a private discussion. Thanks

  • Where do I find message?

  • How do i access private discussion?

  • Go to your personal profile and you should be able to find a tab labelled Messages.  Good luck!

  • Well done to all those people who replied to Dianesam 1 and managed not to turn the subject round to predictable arguments which are already well documented on here.

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