Translate this page

Friday, October 29, 2010

Retirement Adjustment:Life Review

Retirement is a major transition for most of us older adults. When our careers are associated with social status, identity, money, and power, the end of working life may be potentially a period of crisis.

How well we adjust to retirement is based on the importance of our work, how high we have climbed the ladder and how many of our work-related goals we have accomplished. Most of us, prior to retirement, need to review our past work/life history to some degree; with more extensive re-ordering required when job-related goals are very important, are unmet, and no suitable substitute has been found to reflect accomplishments.

Research suggests that if a large number of unmet goals are tied to work, poor health, lack of opportunities, and lack of personal skills, or all of these, we may, upon retirement, withdraw from society unless we are is able to reexamine and reorder our situation.

On the other hand, when our work-related goals rank very low or when these goals are met prior to retirement, we need to foster little change in goals and find it easier to maintain functioning during retirement.

Researchers have identified four styles of retirement adjustment:

(1) "Reorganizers" who are highly active in a reorganized life-style,            and look forward to a planned retirement. They are generally highly satisfied with retirement.
(2) "Holding On”. Those who have this style are also highly active, but their goal is to continue their former working life-style.  They generally do not          anticipate retirement and are often retired involuntarily. Their satisfaction is high if they continue working after retirement. 
(3)"Rocking Chair" retirees maintain relatively high satisfaction with          retirement because they had wanted to reduce their level of activity; they had looked forward to retirement.
(4)"Dissatisfied,” Those with this style report the lowest level of          satisfaction and are often frustrated and depressed. Many have been forced to retire and now find it difficult to maintain levels satisfactory of activity. They also tend to be lowest in resources, have had the poorest health, the lowest educational levels, and the lowest income.

Some research studies indicate that a sizeable portion of the population of retirees express feeling highly dissatisfied. Dissatisfied retirees probably need to address one or more of four major tasks: the getting more information, adjustment to change, reordering of the hierarchy of personal goals, and the acquisition of a new job or job substitute.

Some Useful Work and Retirement Questions:
1.   What is a "big" change for you?
2.   What was the last "big" change you experienced in your life?
3.   What was that like for you?
4.   If you didn't have to work at your current job, what would you do?
5.   Besides a paycheck, what do you get from your job? What do you like and dislike about it?
6.   As you have progressed through your working life, are you aware of       having had goals for yourself?
7.   If so, what are these goals? What parts of them have you accomplished?
8.   Make a list of the things you do in your life that are important to you (roles you play, activities you engage   in, for example).
9.   Now tell me which ones are most important to you? How does your job fit into this?
10.    How would you describe yourself?
11.    When you think of older adults or retirees, what do you think of?
12.    How do you imagine life will be when you retire?

Monday, October 25, 2010

New Beginnings in Retirement

     In the not too distant past we men were raised to be the protectors and providers for our families.  The emotional changes occurring with retirement often catch us by surprise.  “I am the ‘breadwinner” and “protector” of the family changes into “Hey Elizabeth, what would you like for breakfast?”
Next year after decades of work and “providing”, I will wake up one morning as a “former” university professor. Have I prepared myself for changes?  Perhaps not, since I gave away my golf clubs several years ago.
     They say I have “earned” my retirement; whatever that means. Now what will I do with it? Being home all the time results in occasional friction. We love each other but we can also irritate each other.
     I have prepared and am in the early stage of marketing my retirement workshops. Will that be satisfactory?  I am also a volunteer at the local senior’s centre. So I haven’t lost touch with the outside world
     It seems that retirement and renegotiation of gender roles is something those of us in relationships will need to experience if we are to successfully engage in “New Beginnings.”     How similar or different is your life from mine?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Being Retired: The Experience

     Within the next year I will begin to experience what it’s like to be retired? What will I find in retirement and is it something I should want? Will it be “the crown of life” (Wink & James, 2006), or the signal that I have finished all the important stuff, helped raise our children and finished my employed work?
     Probably most people adapt to retirement and it is most frequently a satisfactory experience. However others, like myself, seek to postpone retirement. I have resisted mandatory retirement for the last five years. It’s not that I hate retirement it’s that I want to control my own life.
     Of course, it’s not that retirement is benign or neutral in its effects.  Looking at retired people’s behavior at the Senior’s Centre, where I volunteer, indicates that individuals are striving to manage their transitions and creating a sense of continuity, gratification, or fulfillment within their retired status.
     So the question arises; how do we regard the possibilities that come with retirement? One report comes from Weiss’ (2005) who found that people reported being ambivalent about retired life.  While increased personal time is the great benefit of not working and we may leave stressful work behind, we also miss some opportunities for specific forms of achievement.
      We may also become more socially isolated.  Even though I have only been working ½ time of the past several years, Elizabeth and I struggle to revaluate our habits of togetherness and separation.  We also need to develop other sources of income; my pension isn’t big enough. And we will continually work at figuring out who we are and who cares.
     Freedman (2007) argues that retirement wastes ‘human capital” that could become a powerful social force. He detects, among the current and approaching cohort of retirees, a latent potential for altruism (as revealed in surveys) that could be channeled to community service. If shown how, many Boomers  “…are prepared to swap a lifestyle for a life” One important consequence of third-age idealism, in or out of the labor force, would be political activity for the soon-retiring baby boomers who would be seen as contributing to, rather than living off, younger generations.  They can live out in the third age, the values they endorsed as young adults
     To sum it up, the question is, will baby boom retirees incline toward more civic engagement than previous cohorts. Perhaps the brevity of lifetime is at the heart of it. I have had more thoughts about how much longer I have to live in the last several months than the last several years.
      I believe that we should see retired life and the third age less fundamentally as transitions and more as a new personal frontier

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Who am I ?

“There is one particularly significant way in which grammar can amplify ageism within conversation.  When being introduced to a stranger and being asked who you are and what you do, with age you tend to answer with accounts of what you were and what you used to do.  What you are is a ‘former this’, a ‘retired’ that or and ‘ex-‘ the other. Even when you answer positively with a statement of what you are currently spending your time doing, the question remains hanging in the air. The sensitive stranger is perhaps reluctant to ask what you used to do and so the significant past remains unrevealed."

[1]  Quoted from a book by Bill Bytheway a retired Psychology Professor from England,  who is still actively engaged in the battle against ageism.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Driving Decisions

     I recently posted a blog comment regarding my attitude and toward continued driving. Recently I came across and article in the Canadian Journal of Aging, which looks at the topic more deeply. It was created by  L. Ridman at the University of Western Ontario plus three co-authors.
     The model they created seems like a useful tool for further discussion about slowly driving, as we get older.  First there are a number of factors contributing to our level of driving comfort. They include:
·      Family or doctor’s feedback (medical conditions)
·      Self perceived changes in abilities
·      Symbolic and practical importance of driving
·      Environmental hazards
·      Our beliefs about aging and
·      Alternative methods of transportation

These factors contribute to our:
·      Self-monitoring and
·      Self-regulation while driving.

Which in turn influences our of levels of comfort leading to at some point to personally unacceptable levels of comfort and the decision to stop driving.
On a more scary level the authors report, “…many drivers felt that only an accident or a near accident would stop driving…”

What do you think about your driving alternatives?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Leisure and Retirement

Here I am again, thinking about my future life in retirement. What are some of the things I like to do besides create blog posts?  I like to swim, but haven’t been swimming for years.  Ditto for mountain climbing. I have played golf a few times but a couple of years ago I gave my golf clubs to my brother-in-law. Interestingly I have a close friend who retired from the Psych Department several years ago. He loves golf, travel and going to church. He continues to have a great deal of energy.
I like to play some computer games but tend to become impatient when I can’t find hidden objects quickly enough. I really loved the Quest For Glory Series but they don’t work on my Macintosh and I’m not about to buy a PC just so I can play the game. On a more positive note, I continue to ride my bicycle both to work and around the neighborhood. And, I enjoy walking for it’s own sake.

Several days ago I came upon an article by Galit Nimrod who teaches at a university in Israel. It seems like just the type of article to help bring some balance to my blog comments.

Galit investigated retirees between the ages of 50 and 85 and suggests that the “. first years following retirement…may be viewed as the first step toward advanced age.”  Specifically he examined leisure activities and leisure befits.  Leisure he asserts has both behavioral and psychological benefits.

The participants in his research project were asked to respond to items such as:
1.   I enjoy developing a skill, it’s restful
2.   The activity is different from my work or it’s similar to my work
3.   I feel relaxed, it’s my self expression

The activities he investigated ranged from:
1.   Attending movies,
2.   Going to art exhibits and music concerts,
3.   Vacations abroad,
4.   Going to sports events with friends and
5.   Religious activities.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Thinking About Financial Retirement

Here I am, with a blog about retirement. I brazenly announce that it’s not just about the money.  That’s partly because finances are my weakest area of retirement knowledge.
But recently I came across a research article, which discusses a retirement process model. It focuses on financial issues and was published just this year.

The statements below are listed under four categories each of which has between fifteen and eighteen statements. I have choosen two from each one.  Read the following and see how you respond to the statements.
1)  Retirement Representations
a. I often compare my current financial position with the financial position I would like to have in retirement.
b. I often talk to my family about financial issues for retired people
2)  Retirement Goals
a. I have specific goals regarding the financial position I want in retirement
b. I have specific goals regarding the future roles I would like to hold as a retiree
3) The decision to prepare for retirement
a. I’d rather deal with my financial issues closer to retirement rather than making financial decisions now.
b. I know that people in my age group are making financial preparations for retirement
4)  Preparing for retirement
a. If I was forced to retire today I would have enough money to cope well with retirement.
b. By the time I retire I will own a house without a mortgage.

What stage of planning for retirement are you at?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

My Retirement Decision Making

Recently I came across an article that helps me understand my attitudes toward my upcoming retirement. The article is called “Applying Work-Role Attachment Theory to Retirement Decision-Making”.  There are three variables; job involvement, organizational commitment and career identification.
         In my adult career life that began in 1967 I have primarily been a university professor, with a brief period of time after I left Ontario during which I worked as an Industrial Psychologist (about 5 years) before I joined Kwantlen.
         When I was 65, six years ago, I was almost forced out by mandatory retirement. It of course has now been outlawed as a form of age discrimination.
         There is no doubt in my mind that teaching at the university level has been a central part of my life and retirement will mean giving up valued work role activities. It will also mean giving up a room full of books, fiction and non-fiction, that I have acquired over the years.
         I have less of a commitment to the University it’s self although until recently I have been an active participant in Departmental decision making.
Here are some of the factors that were considered:  all responses were listed between Strongly Agree and Strongly Disagree
How do you respond to them?
1.   I expect to retire in the near future
2.   I am very much personally involved in my job
3.   I am proud to tell others that I am part of the organization where I         work.
4.   My line of work/career field is an important part of who I am.

An attitude toward retirement question was:
1. Retirement means being bored.

Finally, some people reported favorable attitudes toward both work and retirement.  Their responses suggested that “...other roles such as leisure and family even more powerful  ‘pull’ toward retirement.”

I would really like to know how you deal with or intend to deal with your retirement.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Memory and Aging In The Here and Now

 As I age, I am becoming more aware of the imperfection of my memory processes. Especially when I can’t remember where I put my car keys. Often, when I look back over my shoulder, there seems to be a large sign with the word Alzheimer’s.  It’s scary!
Many people, including a lot of older persons, believe that as we age we tend to live more and more in the past because earlier life events mean more to us.  Yet most people regardless of their age have fond memories. So why should older people spend more time in the past than others? Memories, long and short, positive and negative can useful because they can help us act in the here and now.
By releasing preoccupation with either the “good old days” or the future we can focus our experience on the here and now.
That’s not to say that the past means nothing. We can learn from it, without living in it.  According to Wille Nelson, an American musician and community activist who is now 76-years-old, to act wisely we must “Be here. Be present. Wherever we are, be there.


Monday, October 4, 2010

Volunteering and Aging

  For more than ten years I have been volunteering at the Langley Seniors Centre. It has been, and continues to be a major source of activities outside my work life.   If you would like to see what we do their and consider senior's centres in your area go to    
   Volunteering is a way many people enhance their sense of belonging, participate in social networks, express their trust in others and give back to the community.  Similar to other Provinces, BC volunteers help organize activities, serve on boards or committees, canvas, campaign and raise funds worth millions of dollars. In many cases, the hours we spend volunteering tend to increase with age.  In one study, seniors who volunteered contributed an average of 233 hours per year, much higher than younger adults.

      So the question arises: What does volunteering provide for us?  For one thing it creates an opportunity to maintain our sense of competence within organizational objectives during our senior years following retirement.  Part of the answer might be found in the work of Jane Loevinger, a major personality theorist.  She emphasized that with aging there comes a gradual internal acceptance of social rules and the maturing of one's  conscience.

     In other words, volunteering can be seen as a reflection of growing self-awareness and a desire to give back to the community using skills and abilities that have been maturing through adulthood.  We have pretty well figured out who we are and what we can contribute.

Do you volunteer?
If so, why?