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Saturday, June 26, 2010

Adapting to Retirement: The Rise of Wisdom?

In spite of the today’s frequent examples of ageism, which stereotypically assume that age diminishes older peoples’ value to society, and thus contributes to feelings of inferiority, it is obvious that the majority of seniors maintain basic desires to be competent and to contribute to society.

Reflecting the diversity among seniors, many people, including retirees themselves, may also make the assumption that retirement begins a downhill slope ending with death. It seems obvious that if a person is deeply attached to his work life, particularly as a professional, upon retirement, he or she may decrease their sense of self-esteem and withdraw into him or herself. While social networks decline as we reach older ages, most of us, apparently are able to maintain and deepen relations with those close to us.

Wisdom has been defined as “…sound judgment and advice in important and uncertain matters of life.” It is basically about understanding human social relationships.  Obviously, just getting older doesn’t necessarily mean we are getting wiser. It is a function of our continuing social interest. And our ability to integrate our past experiences.

Let's explore an example

Up to now, Michael, 68 years old and married, has faced the economic downturn with some anxiety. Recently, his company management has, in order to save money, decided to close the outer suburban branch where he is employed.

Michael is considering the following options: 
  • He can plan to take early retirement with full pay for the following year, as compensation, or
  • He can plan to move to Calgary in the company head office for two to three more years.

What should Michael do and consider in making his plans?
What additional information do we need?


  1. Take the early retirement and the year to decide what other activities and or interests he has. The company is downsizing and it could be a short stay in Calgary. Not worth uprooting for a short two years extra pay. Early retirement/change in life activities often leads to greater longevity. Does it not?

  2. After having considered financial needs, early successful retirement depends on social connectedness both inside and outside of work. It also is related one's identification with work.
    We also have, I believe, a basic desire to achieve. We don;t lose that upon retirement. Longevity is, in part,
    inherited. There are those who smoke and drink etc and still live longer than average. There those who live "perfectly" healthy social and biological lives that die quite early

  3. There are many factors to consider before making such a major decision:
    1. If Michael is married/partnered, what is his partner's opinion?
    2. Does he prefer to work for several more years or has he been looking forward to getting out of the job market?
    3. What financial artrangements have been made for possibly 30 or 40 years of living without a salary?
    4. Where is his social support system/family/friends?

  4. Verian,
    I long for the days, when people who were not sitting next to each other, if they were rich, phoned and if they were not so rich sent a letter by snail mail. Your comment are very helpful and I encourage everyone who reads them to consider them.