Raise the retirement age and cure boredom?

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In an earlier article, “Retirement planning – its not what you think,” I talked about the planning required to have a quality of life after retiring from one’s job that relies on spending your time in a way that pleases you, and benefits others.

My closest friend, Sophia (not her real name), is in her 80th year of life and for the seven years that I’ve known her, Sophia has struggled with boredom, but not just boredom per se.  Sophia wants to matter; she wants to make a difference; she wants to contribute to the world around her.  In a recent e-mail to me, Sophia said:

“There are too many active Seniors roaming around the coffee shops and Malls wondering what to do next.  Even my friend Walter, at age 97, felt a sense of accomplishment yesterday when he washed all the bed linens and remade the queen bed – this done using his walker, back and forth.”

English: Golfer teeing off
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sophia epitomizes the bored retiree that I discuss in my article, “Voices of the bored retirees.”  We often think that when we retire we’ll be satisfied with being able to golf whenever we want; sleep in as long as we want; work in the garden whenever we like, and read all the books we’ve stacked up, but not had the time, to read.  My father was one of those retirees who longed for the opportunity to be on the golf course as often as he wanted.  A month post-retirement, he was bored with it all.

Another quote from my friend Sophia: “I really believe that much that we call Alzheimer’s is just a simple lack of interest in remembering what no longer matters.  There is definitely a veiled space that occurs now and then when it is either too painful to remember, or not worth it to try.  This, in addition to physical pain and boredom, can reach a kind of black hole.”

I know my friend very well, so I know that she doesn’t support that type of Alzheimer’s reasoning, but what she said really resonated with me.  Too often we focus too much on what doesn’t matter, and far too little on what can matter greatly in our remaining years.  Gerontologist S. Barkin believes that we have a responsibility to actively walk through our retirement (or Baby Boomer) years:

“What do we want to do for the remaining time in our life?  We all should be mining our experiences and the wisdom therein to help with our present, and our future paths.”

Most of us, even when we’re enjoying the relaxation we so richly deserve in our retirement, truly strive to create a new purpose for our life.  We want a reason to get up in the morning.  We strive to contribute to the community around us.

Does the retirement age need to be raised in order for that to occur?  Or can we be just as effective, and less bored, by cultivating a lasting purpose after we’ve entered the long sought-after retirement phase of our lives?

O.K. BABY BOOMERS OUT THERE:

  • What’s your plan?
  • What’s working – or not working – for you?
  • What’s your cure for boredom?

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6 thoughts on “Raise the retirement age and cure boredom?

    travelwyse said:
    June 12, 2012 at 4:44 am

    Reblogged this on travelwyse.

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    Kathy said:
    June 11, 2012 at 5:35 am

    Since Alzheimer’s Disease struck my grandmother, I worry about my father. At age 69, he is still a practicing physician. He loves what he does and is good at it. If my mom had not died from pancreatic cancer, my dad would have retired by now. They had dreams of traveling, just spending time together without the stress of work. My dad is also an active person outside of work, always has been. I agree with you about the retirement age. I believe that if someone wants to retire and is able to do so financially, then that’s ok. But for those who want to continue to work beyond the “official” age of retirement, that’s ok too. As people are living longer and healthier lives, they should have options. Just my 2 cents.

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    letstalkaboutfamily said:
    June 9, 2012 at 8:31 pm

    Thanks, Boomer. I counted off the days for 4 years before I retired! I was worried about having enough FMLA to care for my parents and I was sick to death of the 2 hours plus commuting to work each day. I didn’t mind my job, it was professional and satisfying, but I was ready to move on to the rest of my life!

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      boomer98053 said:
      June 10, 2012 at 8:46 am

      Like you, I look forward to a full retirement opportunity and would not want the retirement age to be raised. I think leaving as is and allowing those who want to work longer do so, is the best solution. People, such as my former father-in-law, still work well into their 80’s and thrive. My 80 year old good friend, Sophia, who does NOT, is bored, perhaps only because she hasn’t found the right fit for her volunteer efforts.

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    letstalkaboutfamily said:
    June 9, 2012 at 4:03 pm

    Who is bored? I have been very busy caring for my elderly parents since I retired. I haven’t yet had time for the hobbies I plan to pursue when I actually have some time. If people can afford to retire before they reach Medicare age, many do. Less than half actually retire at full retirement age or later. No way would I work another day for pay. I would rather use my time and talents as a volunteer and save some time for me. After all those years raising a family and caring for my parents and working full time, I deserve some time for myself. This is it, and I am sure not ready to give it up!

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      boomer98053 said:
      June 9, 2012 at 7:34 pm

      I fully support what you’re saying. So many of us don’t entertain the word “retirement” because of our job and/or family obligations. What surprises me are those who THRIVE on the 9 – 5 job so they don’t even think of retiring. My former father-in-law is approaching 90 years of age and he still goes to the office each day. Mind you – he owns his own company – but I know for a fact that he would not survive if he were forced to retire. He enjoys working. Not all of us can say that. And then there are many of us Baby Boomers who don’t especially enjoy the rigorous work hours, but we can’t imagine retiring because of our financial obligations

      And finally, your comments about using your time and talents to volunteer resonate greatly with me. My volunteer work is VERY satisfying. I was actually offered a paid job two separate times doing what I’m doing as a volunteer. But because a paid job doesn’t provide the flexibility I need to attend to family and personal obligations, I turned both paid opportunities down. I acknowledge your situation and stand fully behind what a person decides to do, and/or needs to do, in their Baby Boomer years. My hat is off to you!

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