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Seniorgram: Sending a Message on Senior Issues

What does retirement mean today?

RoseannMartocciaHeadshotExecutive Director Roseann MartocciaIn a 2014 Huffington Post article entitled. “It’s Time to Retire our Definition of Retirement,” Arianna Huffington wrote:

“The same principles that allow us to thrive in our daily work lives can also help us thrive in retirement, or whatever we call it. Just as a productive workday depends on how we prepare ourselves for it (for example, by getting enough sleep and taking time to recharge ourselves in our off-hours), a productive, meaningful and purposeful retirement depends on what we put into it.”

I had the pleasure of attending the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year event in December where Ann Hamilton was honored as the 2016 recipient and for her service as Executive Director of the Chamber of Commerce. I was struck by Ann’s reflections on retirement as a time of transition and both looking back and moving forward. She called upon the words of Ellen Goodman in her final column which appeared in The Washington Post on January 1, 2010:

“Looking backward and forward. I belong to a generation that has transformed our culture. We've been the change agents for civil rights, women's rights, gay rights. Now, we find ourselves on the cutting edge of another huge social change. This time, it's the longevity revolution. Ours is the first generation to collectively cross the demarcation line of senior citizenship with actuarial tables on our side. 

"‘Senior citizen’ is now a single demographic name tag that includes those who fought in World War II and those who were born in World War II. We don't have a label yet to describe the early, active aging. But many of us are pausing to recalculate the purpose of a longer life. We are reinventing ourselves and society's expectations, just as we have throughout our lives.”

The reality of retirement has changed for many reasons, such as the mix of part-time work, volunteerism, caring for younger and/or older members of one’s family and exploring new adventures near and far from home. These are common responses when one asks, “What are you doing now that you have retired?” Engagement is very important, and lifelong learning opportunities present themselves when you have some newfound time on your hands. Regular exercise and being outdoors are also ways to be with others or enjoy productive time on your own. There is no cookie-cutter approach to “retirement” these days. Financial security and good health are certainly factors that can make retirement easier or more complex if one has limitations on resources or their health.

Ellen Goodman also put forth four keys to a successful transition when work is not such a “full-time job”: 

  1. Embrace change imaginatively 
  2. Have an optimistic outlook
  3. Have faith in yourself 
  4. Find and engage with a supportive social network beyond the worksite