People who have taken early retirement believe they made the right decision, although women find it harder to adjust than men do, according to a study for the American Association of Retired Persons.

The study of 400 men and women, retired for five years or less, was conducted by Ladd Wheeler, a University of Rochester psychologist, for the AARP's Public Policy Institute. He was assisted by the Regional Council on Aging in RochesterMost of the men and women in the study took early retirement because their employers were cutting back on personnel and offered the employees deals they couldn't refuse, Wheeler says.

"Some people saw the employer's offer as an invitation to leave," he adds, "and thought they'd better do so when they had a good offer in hand, rather than risk a layoff or demotion later."

More women than men were dissatisfied, saying that at times they felt they had too little to do, that they worried about not having enough money, that they lacked self-esteem and missed their jobs and work friends.

The financial worries were real, according to Wheeler. "Women in our sample received a median retirement income of $14,062. The men's median was $26,743. The difference is tied to lower earnings and years of service for the women before their retirement," he says.

Wheeler says about a third of those studied said they wished they'd had more financial counseling before retirement. "That suggests to me that planning is key in enjoying retirement," he says. "Planning not only one's finances, but one's activities, too."