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Sunday, December 29, 2013

Exploring The Paths of Retirement

         Retirement means leaving the paid labour force. Many people think that it is a single event; a happy one if we are financially secure and are retiring voluntarily and not so happy if we are financially challenged and/or are being forced to leave our social connections and/or our professional identities behind. 
         I am voluntarily left Kantlen Polytechnic University last year 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

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