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Monday, December 31, 2012

Intergenerational Relations in Europe[i]

“Using people’s confidence about discussing personal matters as a litmus test of intergenerational relationships, the survey (cited below) looked at three different contexts, friendships, families, and the workplace.”
“When it comes to friendships, most countries showed that people tend to have friends among people of a similar age and tend to feel more comfortable with their peers.  It is striking that 80 percent of people aged 15 to 24 have no friends in their seventies. The majority of respondents are members of families that contain children or grandchildren between the ages of 15 and 30 and relatives over 70. Across Europe, people feel quite comfortable talking across generations. More people in the UK have family members over 70 than have children or grand children under 30, and 88 percent of respondents talk confidently to both groups, so their family intergenerational contact is positive.”
“In the workplace, perhaps unsurprisingly, all survey respondents had more contact with those in their 20s compared with the over-70s. Those under 64, perhaps predominant in the paid workforce, spend their time with colleagues under 20, while those over 65 – who are perhaps more involved with voluntary work – spend more time with those over 70.”
“If on balance, intergenerational contact seems to be at least modestly promising, most people do not see younger and older and younger people as part of a common group with a shared ethos. Rather, they are seen as two separate groups with distinctive attributes within one community.  Although this is a somewhat negative conclusion the different age groups also regard each other as individuals(led by Croatia and Sweden at of 40 percent, the UK and the European mean of 30 percent, Poland, Estonia and Hungary at about 15 percent), which mitigates a tendency to display prejudice to age groups as a whole.”
“A body of research[ii] had firmly established that a very powerful way to overcome prejudice is to foster close, honest and personal relationships is the key.  We need to be alive to trends which appear to be supportive of age segregation, and seek initiatives which can bring different generations together around issues of shared interest and importance.” 
My wife Elizabeth and I have been working on this goal for several years with our organization ICAL.Ca.  Full name Intergenerational Centre for Action Learning.

[i]  The above material comes from Professor Dominic Abrams et al; The European Research Group on Attitudes to Age,  The data comes from the European Social Survey 2008.  It was published in Marck 2011 by Age UK

[ii] T.F. Pettigrew and L.R. Tropp (2006) “Interpersonal Relations and Group Processes – A meta-analytic test of intergroup contact theory, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 90(5): 751-83.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The Paths of Retirement

Exploring The Paths of Retirement

         I voluntarily left Kantlen Polytechnic University two years ago in August. I have been preparing to retire for some time, including the creation of this blog and workshop/seminars including humor, wisdom and retirement and ageism.  These can be helpful to both those doing pre-retirement planning, those who have already have already left work and employers seeking new workers and managing their business.
         According to Robert Atchley, a highly respected gerontologist, rather than thinking of retirement as a single event, it can be better understood as series of adjustments[i].  Not everyone goes through all of them.  See if any of the following three possible paths may reflect your experience. They are:
     1. The honeymoon path is a happy time; especially for those with good financial status when a person attempts to do all the things that he or she never had time to do while working.  Traveling is a frequent choice.
     2. Another option is immediate retirement routine. Many of us already have activities besides work.  For instance I volunteer and the local seniors centre and am creating a series of seminar/workshops that will not only benefit the community but also help me financially.
     3. The last option is rest and relaxation during which individuals sit back, relax and catch up on their reading. This period may last several years and then we pick up on our previous level of activity.  I approach this by stirring my creativity with painting and poetry writing.

         Retirees may also experience disenchantment.  Honeymoons don’t last forever. We may miss our work and feel a lack of productivity. Or we might experience the death of a loved one or be forced to move from our neighborhood and community. These experiences may last several years before we can return to our previous level of activity. In extreme cases we may experience depression. Fortunately the proportion of people who become depressed is reported to be quite small
         The return to activity is seen as a reorientation period during which we re-evaluate our situation and become more realistic in our choices.  We can then develop more satisfying routines.
         In planning for retirement it’s important to remember that, as a society we are increasing our longevity.  Retirement can last a long time.   Do any of the above descriptions reflect you own experience?

[i]   Robert Atchley --  Retirement as a Social Institution

Friday, December 21, 2012

Women's Retirement Variety

Working Women’s Retirement[i]

         Much of the discussion about employment and retirement are gender biased.    This post is designed to help rebalance our understanding of contributions women make in paid employment and their considerations as the move into retirement. As I was surfing around I came upon an article that discusses nature of women’s employment and retirement. 
            The primary focus of the author, Dr, Christine Price, is two show and discuss similarity and differences between professional and non-professional women in the workforce. The method used to gather data was qualitative. Qualitative researchers aim to gather an in-depth understanding of human behavior and the reasons that govern such behavior. The qualitative method investigates the why and how of decision making, not just what, where, when. Hence, smaller but focused samples are more often needed.[ii]In the conventional view, qualitative methods produce information only on the particular cases studied, and any more general conclusions are only propositions (informed assertions).
         Getting on with the story, the research found five significant areas in which there were differences between professional and nonprofessional women.  They are (1) attachment to work, (2) professional identity, (3) social contacts, (4) family roles and obligations, and (5) community contacts.  
         I will go briefly through these areas but I encourage you, if you are really interested, to go to the sources, displayed at the bottom of this post.

Attachment to Work
          Perhaps the most important factor, and I can identify with this is that “For the professional women, the decision to retire involved the ending of a career that dominated a significant portion of their adulthood and retirement was “…an ending to a significant chapter of their lives.”
         On the other side is the non-Professional women did not appear to have difficulty leaving their jobs in fact many felt relieved? No more “punching the clock” and nobody felt that their job had been “fulfilling.”

Professional Identity
         Just over half of the professionals also felt that they had lost some social status. There were three components to this:  (1) misconceptions of reduced professional capabilities once retired, (2) immediate loss of professional titles and (3) “the assumption of permanent availability to others.

         No any of the non-professionals identified with the reduction of social status. Some actually said retirement helped them feel “…an increased sense of importance and responsibility.  Perhaps this is because many of the non-professionals weren’t paid a lot and didn’t have much responsibility a work.

Social Contacts
         This refers to the loss of daily contacts.  The professional women “…missed the casual friendships established at work in addition to the feelings of satisfaction they gained from impacting the lives of others.” The nonprofessional women did not report theses feelings.

Family Roles and Obligations
         Understandably. While family roles were important to both groups, almost all… “of the nonprofessional women mentioned family roles and obligations as influencing their decisions to retire as well as how they structured their time after retirement. The same women also described the roles and related responsibilities of wife, daughter, mother and grandmother as taking priority after retirement. This makes it apparent that the non-professional women held family roles as central to their sense of self in retirement. This was not so with the professional women

Community Involvement
After retirement both groups of women’s lives were “…filled with volunteer and recreational activities.  Teachers served as substitute teachers (me to), or on various community boards related to teens-at-risk and educational issues.  These activities were less varied among the nonprofessional women. “Nine (60%) of the nonprofessional retirees served their communities by volunteering with local organizations “…including hospital, recreation center and senior center.

In summary there continued to be differences between retirements for persons with professional roles compared to those with “jobs” Jobs were experienced primarily as sources of income.    I think these findings are probably similar for men, I think I’ll surf around and see if I can find some information

[i]  Article source:
[ii]  Definition taken from wikapedia

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Making Retirement Beneficial

Retirement Goals

         Alfred Adler identified and developed the basic ideas expressed in this blog entry[i].  I used his approach to the understanding of personality during the years I worked as an Industrial Clinical Psychologist. I still think of myself as an Individual Psychologist, which is what he called himself and those who used his model.
         During our lives we strive to achieve things, most of which are connected to our social relationships.  In addition during the years of our employment a central focus is to do the very best job we can to seek perfection. In addition we generally live and work within various forms of community relationships.
.  All of my life I have sought to do my very best.  I have also worked to help others.  I believe that I have had these goals since my younger brother Rodger was born and I started “helping” my mother. At first I did my best to please her. After a while I did my best because it felt good.
         Now in the middle of my second year of retirement I must respond to new challenges and adapt to the world as it changes. I expect that these adjustments will continue until the end of my life.  But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves.
           One of my key activities has the creation of this blog. In addition all of the over 171 posts on my blogspot are dedicated to my goal of doing my very best to help others who have either retired or are planning to retire. I have had over 1000 visits and I intend to continue posting.
         The questions I have asked myself are below. Ask yourself and let me know it they are helpful:
        1. What goals would you like to achieve during your                            retirement?
       2. What accomplishments are you most proud of during                            your work life?
      3. What social relationships are most important to you?


[i] Adler,A. (1979).Superiority and Social Interest. George C. McCloud Limited,                Toronto    ISBN  978-0-392-00910-1

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Decision to Retire

Personality And The Decision To Retire

       This afternoon I came upon a very interesting research paper that adds a new dimension to ways we can explain our decision to retire[i] It is interesting not only because it was published this month but also because it considers the importance of personality in retirement decision making.
       The authors suggest that retirement decisions go through three Assessment Phases:
1.  Imagining the possibility of retirement in the future
2.  Assessing when it is time to let go of Long-held jobs
3.  Putting concrete plans for retirement into action in the present.
    Changes considered in the retirement context are:
ü    Joint decision making within the family
ü    Social normative expectations of colleagues and friends
ü    Greater opportunities for growth and development.

       They also suggest we should look more directly into personality and retirement relationships. Specifically, “…personality theory has the potential to substantially enhance our understanding of this process.”  They go on to suggest that we begin by using “the Big 5” as a model as a tool. .

[i] Feldman,D.C. & Beehr,T.A. (2011)  A three-phase model          of retirement decision making, American Psychologist, vol 66(3) ,

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

New Blog, sharing my art & poetry

 Having fun with aging. 
 I have today created a new blog spot on which I will express my very strong interests in creativity.  It is titled Art with Wrinkles  For the past several years and now in retirement I have developed a great interest in poetry and painting. One of the best things about retirement is having the time and energy to reach inside and express that creativity.  I wish to thank my wife Elizabeth, for her help

Monday, December 10, 2012

Aging In The World of Light: A Poem

Growing Old With Wrinkles

As the morning sun twinkled
I looked down at my hands
And saw my skin wrinkled.
Looking in the mirror
They were also on my face.

For a while I found wrinkles
Difficult to accept as mine.
In any case I am who I am
And I am not one to whine

Later as I watched the News
An afternoon TV commercial
Advertised a way for them to lose
But that’s not for me to choose

My mother who is 97
With all her wrinkles
As she waits for heaven
I hope to live as long as her

As Christmas approaches I wonder
What Santa Claus thinks about wrinkles?

Thursday, December 6, 2012


Relationship of Ageism to Self-Concept

         “Few studies have examined the impact of ageist attitude on the self-concept of older adults. This is interesting as this represents the group most affected by ageist attitudes. Kastenbaum and Durkee (1964a) discuss how elderly people view old age. They conclude that attitudes of the aged towards themselves as a population is improving. However, it still is hypothesized that as individuals age, their concept of themselves becomes less positive. In support of this contention they cite Kuhlen (1959) who reported that only 5 percent of older individuals surveyed select middle and later adulthood as the period of greatest happiness. It is important to remember that many of these earlier studies used a non-representative sample of older adults.”
         One potential outcome of internalized ageist attitudes in the older adult is a syndrome described as the social breakdown syndrome (Kuypers & Bengston, 1973). The social breakdown syndrome is hypothesized to involve the following stages:
          First, the individual becomes susceptible to dependence on external labeling. This is proposed to occur in response to role loss or the lack of a reference group. For example, retirement or widowhood might make the individual susceptible.
         The second stage is dependence on external labeling. If this labeling is positive, the syndrome continues no further.
         However, the third stage is characterized by the societal view of the elderly as incompetent or obsolete.
          If the individual accepts this negative attitude, he/she falls into the fifth stage of assuming a dependent role.
         This is followed by the atrophy of skills and finally the labeling of the self as inadequate, incompetent, and "sick". Therefore, what the social breakdown syndrome describes is the self-fulfilling nature of negative attitudes concerning age and aging.

Monday, December 3, 2012

More about Elder Abuse

Elder abuse signs evident[i]

Toronto -- Older people who have a wrist or hip fracture often get such injuries after taking a fall.  But researchers say there is a distinct pattern of broken bones and bruises that suggests something more sinister—elder abuse.
         After reviewing the international medical literature and Ontario coroner’s reports, Dr. Kieran Murphy and colleagues saw the same pattern of fractures and soft-tissue injuries repeatedly.
         ‘There is indeed a typical distribution of injuries that are seen radiologically in the elderly who are beaten..” said Murphy, a radiologist at the University Health Network in Toronto.”  So they have injuries around their eyes, they have injuries to their teeth.
         ‘They may have shaking injuries which cause bleeds (inside) the head called subdurals, they may have soft tissue injuries and upper extremities injuries’ he added.
          ‘A broken shoulder blade is another sign of elder abuse.’
         “Murphy and his team reviewed more than 1,100 cases of abuse in people over the age 60.”        
         “Their analysis also showed that these elderly abuse victims were most often in a home setting being cared for by
non-professionals, such as a family member or other untrained caregiver.”
         “Often the offender is financially dependent on the older person and may have an alcohol or drug addiction, he said.”
_The Canadian Press

[i]  Material reported in The Province, Friday Nov 30th 2012, Vancouver British Columbia,             THEPROVINCE.COM  Page B13