A new way to prepare for retirement
Welcome back to the latest in my series of guest blogs, where I invite inspiring people from my community to feature their work on my site.
This month, we have Martin Hyde, Associate Professor in Gerontology at Swansea University and a researcher in the field of work, retirement and health in a global context. He is the author of Ageing & Globalisation, as well as Deputy Editor of Ageing & Society. You can find him on Twitter or blogging at Agescapes. Martin, over to you…
A new way to prepare for retirement
Twitter is a wonderful place! I have met so many great people from around the world and been given so many great opportunities by being on there.
In October of last year, I had the great fortune that George reached out to me on Twitter. From the first meeting we had, George and I really hit it off and I was excited to see someone coming from a practitioner background with his own unique life story who was passionate about how we redefine retirement.
This is an area of research I’ve been working on for the last 20 years so it was tremendously gratifying to discuss not only my research with George, but the work of so many others who are contributing to a more robust evidence base about how we meet the challenge of living and working longer.
Finding a purpose in retirement
The key area where George and I really connected was over the issue around purpose in retirement and the current paucity of retirement planning courses and literature in this area.
Early thinkers in the field recognised the need to maintain activities and continuity between working life and retirement. However, we both felt that all too often retirement planning is reduced to simple pension income calculations. This is not to say that money is not important but this approach overlooks the wider issue of how to help people find and realise their sense of purpose in retirement.
“There is a growing body of evidence that shows that a sense of purpose can contribute to better health and well-being in later life” Martin Hyde
This is important as it can have long reaching consequences. In a comprehensive review of the literature on retirement adjustment, my colleagues and I found, amongst other things, that those who had negative expectations about retirement and those who felt that they had no control over their retirement had worse outcomes in retirement. So we need a new way to prepare people for retirement.
Ready to take a retirement course?
The good news is that this is possible. In another study that I led on we evaluated two group-based courses that aimed to provide psychological and emotional support for later life transitions.
We found that such courses, that take a more holistic approach, helped people to gain clarity about the goals they wanted to achieve in retirement and to help combat some negative ideas people had about retirement. The bad news is that there are far too few of these courses out there.
That is why it is great that there are people like George who are out there helping people to really think about what it is that they want from their retirement and supporting them to realise those ambitions.
For me, I hope that this is a long journey with George. We are already talking about the possibility of designing a larger study to better understand people’s sense of purpose as they approach and enter retirement and the sorts of support that they need.
So, who knows, I may be back here blogging about our results in the not-to-distant future…