Books on experiencing retirement
Boomers are using their talents to examine their experiences of aging and retirement. Ian Brown, feature writer for the Globe and Mail, has written a book called Sixty: The Beginning of the End, or the End of the Beginning?, which is a reflection on his life, values, his body’s changes, and experiences as he hits the first year of his sixties decade. Our time here is finite and thus valuable is one insight. Bill Richardson, former CBC personality, has written a collection of poems with attitude called The First Little Bastard to Call Me Gramps: Poems of the Late Middle Ages. It is a sharp and irreverent take on the trials and, at times, funny tribulations of growing older.
Are men ready to retire?
Lyndsay Green, author of You Could Live a Long Time: Are You Ready? and The Perfect Home for a Long Life has another comprehensive and insightful book called Ready to Retire?: What You and Your Spouse Need to Know About the Reality of Retirement. It is easy to read, chock full of anecdotes with references to books, movies and even paintings that depict the latter part of the lifecycle.
She interviewed men between the ages of 56 and 88 as well as some of their spouses, asked probing questions and got thoughtful and honest answers. She combines their responses with up to date information from her comprehensive research. This provides the framework for a readable and valuable resource for those contemplating retirement as well as those helping them do so.
Men talk about their fears about finances, boredom, drinking, depression, and the impact of a series of losses. These losses may include identity, a sense of meaning and purpose, structure, income, health, friendship and collegiality, intellectual stimulation, and status. Thirty percent of men have difficulty with the transition to retirement and 1.7 million Canadian men are between 60 and 69 and that number is steadily rising. That makes this book timely and relevant.
Coping with change
The questions that are examined by these men include how to continue personal growth, where to get intellectual stimulation, what to do with all that time on your hands, how to use your energy and skills, how to fill a possible emotional hole left after your work life is done, and how to renegotiate your relationships. It was no surprise to me that most men do little or no planning for these aspects.
- only one in ten men claimed to have given a great deal of consideration to planning their retirement lives, and most of them focused on finances almost to the exclusion of anything else.
- A proactive approach to retirement and a positive sense of self outside of work are key to a smooth transition to retirement.
- Retirees who feel retirement is for resting and relaxing are less satisfied with their lives and their retirement.
- Psychologically, they feel less socially connected, less productive and valued, less confident, less optimistic about the future—and much less motivated—compared to those who consider retirement to be a time to pursue new goals.
Some men delay retirement, start an encore career, start a business, work part-time, or become serial retirees. Others delve into self exploration, face their existential crises, get more in touch with their spirituality, pursue further learning, do volunteer work, or take on new roles in their families and communities. Buying into the ‘Can’t teach an old dog new tricks’ is challenged as dangerous and false in this book. Many of these men are struggling, searching, making discoveries, trying new identities and regenerating in their own ways. Lyndsay Green has put their stories and experiences into context for those contemplating making the transition.
The geezer greeting card images are not the stories told in this must-read book on experiencing retirement!