Monday, 20 May 2013

When you retire...

I know a number of people heading into retirement at the moment. Some have been retired from their companies at 60 yrs or 63 yrs... They're definitely not old and non-functional. They're full of beans and with the programme. And now that they're at home, they've got nothing to do.


I chatted to a neighbour tonight who has just been retired by her company. She hasn't got much to do and spends her days messing around on her iPad. But, you can only do that for some time before it gets old. I mentioned to her about applying her work experience and skills to volunteering for an organisation aligned with her interests - animals, children, the aged, education - there is so much need for manpower and energy and skills. She hadn't thought of it.

When you're working, every week day is about your job. At night you probably crash early to wake up early to get to work. Over the weekends you've only got two days to shop for groceries and stuff, spend time with family, have lunches and dinners with friends, take your dog to the park and sneak in an afternoon nap. When you're presented with another five days to fill - and friends and family are at work - what do you do all day? Especially if you haven't got any hobbies or activities and if you're not involved with clubs and organisations?

I watched my one grandmother go from vibrant and active and involved to 'Elvis-has-left-the-building' within a few years of retiring. No hobbies, no interests... And then she moved countries to South Africa. No friends here. Nothing familiar. Sure, Alzheimer's kicked in but I think her brain degeneration had more to do with too little use and stimulation than the degenerative disease. My dad once asked her, before she got bad, what she had planned to do in her retirement. "Nothing," she answered. Nothing eats your brain cells.

If you've got lots of money, you can travel. Not everyone has lots of money when they retire, and they money they have maybe needs to last for another 25 years...

I can think of five recently-retired people that I know who are sitting at home doing next to nothing. A break for a month or two from the confines of structured work is a good thing but for the next 10-15 productive years of their lives? There's so much manpower rotting at home and so many organisations needing skilled, helping hands. If you have a family member vegging at home, try to encourage them to get involved with something - anything - aligned to their interests. These people are too valuable to have sitting at home watching telly all day.

Then again, if all they want to do is watch telly...

1 comment:

Robert Green said...

Could not agree with you more. Both my parents are in there 70's but still doing work to earn a little extra income (Uncle Bob in Zim took what pension they had). My Mum sells her homemade products at Bathurst Farmers market every Sunday and my father restores antique furniture. They complain they are so busy and I remind them constantly that is what keeps them so young and energetic. So much better than a lot of my friends parents who just watch TV all day and complain about the state of the world. When it's my time to go please let it be doing something exciting, like going up Mnweni pass in my 80's. 😉