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Sunday, August 29, 2010

Meanings of Retirement

When I look at the various meanings of the English word "retire", I find some interesting examples, all of which, along with "leave one's occupation", appear to mean loss:  1. to recede,  2. to withdraw, 3. to retreat, 4. to move away, 5. to take out of circulation.   Could anyone who speaks languages other than English tell me if their word for leaving work is also connected to these other ideas?
One of the only positive words that I can find connected with aging is wisdom.   This is a social process indicating a deepening understanding of interpersonal relations based on extended experience.  Ironically, when older people fail to display wisdom, it is often assumed that it's because they are getting old.
Successful retirement, requires us to refine and "recycle" ourselves. To do so, we must challenge and change some assumptions about ourselves and others based on our experience.  One of the difficulties with successful aging is, rather than using wisdom, we fall into self-stereotyping connected with the ideas in the first paragraph.  For example "seniors moments" and moving away from previous connections.  These attitudes and activities are reinforced by younger people's attitudes toward
older people.  
I think that the next 15 years or so, especially if the "economic downturn" continues, will see more examples of senior stereotyping, and direct attacks on seniors as the population ages and we are held responsible because "...all they are doing is draining the resources of younger 'productive' people.

1 comment:

  1. Something else that may contribute to ageism is the 'traditional ' roles older people have been assigned such as grand-parenting. If older people are framed in this way there is a resistance to see other valid roles for an older person like competent employee or a person who pursues further education to change careers - examples of reuse and recycle.