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Sunday, May 1, 2011

Comparing Models of Retirement

         There have been several ways, using the concept of stages, that the process of retirement has been described.”  The number of stages used ranges from 4 to 8; depending on the theorists’ hypotheses and the research they have conducted to evaluate their ideas.
            The purpose of this blog entry is to display one of the traditional models and then show one more connected to the current financial conditions[i] that we have been experiencing over the last couple of decades. Specifically we will look at how the retirement stages might apply to the current “economic downturn” in North America (and the rest of the world), which appears to be worse than the ones Canada experienced during economic recessions in the early 1980s and again in the early1990s.
            The “current” model focuses on the more recent recessions and the research was published in 2010.  It may be useful in trying to understand retirement in what appears to be difficult socioeconomic conditions.
             To begin with, we will look at one of the more traditional models, used by Barbara Swanson.[ii] It is based on stages within the Continuity Model developed by Robert Atchley who is a highly respected gerontologist in the United States.
The stages selected by Swanson are:
         1.  Anticipation:  dreaming, planning, hopefulness. With some people feeling discomfort as the “big day” approaches.
          2. Honeymoon: (many models have this stage) elation, feelings of freedom, relief from stress and responsibility.
          3. Disenchantment: feeling letdown, boredom, and that life as more than             pursuing leisure, (with a possible experience of mental depression)
          4. Reorientation: Taking stock, finding out what makes you happy, improves quality of life. Ask yourself the following questions: 
                       What do I enjoy doing?
                       What’s missing from my life?
                       What are my talents and interests?
                       What do I regret not having done yet in my life?
          5. Fulfillment: healthy balanced life, satisfying family relationships and friendships

            The other model is entitled New Retirement Study: The Stages of Retirement Have Changed. It lists 6 stages and is designed to investigate how “Americans’ attitudes, ambitions, and preparation for retirement have changed dramatically as a result of the recession.”  The authors’ state that they “…are seeing people hesitate and really question if they are making the right decision” when they are considering retirement
            The cognitive and behavioral stages used are:

1. Imagination:    Feeling a lot less hopeful and optimistic
2. Hesitation:       Fewer in this stage feel “happy” in retirement 
3. Anticipation:    Most likely feel on track for retirement                                              mostly because they feel financially secure
4. Realization:      Dramatic decrease in positive feelings
5. Reorientation:  Feel more happy and on track
6. Reconciliation:  The researchers found that most respondents report being happy but four times as many retirees are feeling depressed and are among the most likely to say that they are not enjoying retiremen
          Are you preparing to retire or already retired? What  ideas or concepts in the material above reflects your feelings and attitudes?

[i] Healthy Aging Admin: (2010).  New retirement study: The stages of retirement have changed.  Recovered from the internet through google.
[ii] Swanston B.

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