There is a great debate going on about retiring the word “Retirement” the argument being put forward, with which I completely agree, is that the word retirement, no longer reflects the reality of this day and age.
I.e. The concept of the Golden Era of retirement, which was in any case just a creation of the marketing industry, is no longer practical or relevant as people are living much longer lives and will probably need to earn additional income to maintain their quality of life and also their sense of purpose, without which retired people quickly decline.
So people are putting forward their ideas for a better word, but personally I don’t think that’s the point. Retirement today is very different, and one of the main reasons is because today, people entering their third life phase are mentally, physically and spiritually much younger and more active than previous generations of retirees.
Today’s, so-called, retirees are capable of far more than previous generations, and they will live longer and continue to be healthy, fit and active for many more years than past generations of older people. The majority of today’s older people don’t want to stop; to sit back and do nothing. That’s not who they are.
So, my personal view is that it’s not about replacing the word, it’s more to do with replacing the long-held beliefs in society about what retirement really means.
I believe that men like us, whether approaching retirement age or already retired, need to completely change our mindset about our lives after retiring from the day jobs that we did for some 40 years. I believe that older men today should:
Consciously choose to live a long, active and healthy life, to continue to contribute to society, to nurture close personal and social relationships, and to willingly share the knowledge and wisdom they possess with other people, both younger and older.
A short history lesson might help: When retirement pensions were first introduced in Australia in 1909, the average life expectancy for a man at birth was 58, and the compulsory retirement age for men was set at 65. In other words, most men were unlikely to reach retirement age, and even if they did, with a much higher level of blue-collar workers at that time, they would probably be feeling tired and worn out, and happy to put their feet up for their remaining days.
In 2015, the situation is very different. The retirement age is still 65 for men, but the average life expectancy at birth for men has increased to 82, an increase of 41%, and growing by a year every 4 years. But that’s not all; older people are far healthier than previous generations, and that trend will continue to improve. So on that basis, the average man currently under 65 can reasonably expect at least 20 to 25 years of healthy active retirement, and possibly much more.
In an article in Huffington Post, Arianna Huffington, commented:
“If we were choosing a word today for what life looks like as we hit our mid-60s, 70s and 80s, it seems unlikely that we’d land on “retirement.” While these years bring many changes, for a growing number of people, this time of life is about anything but withdrawal or retreat.
Of course, many will keep working because they have to financially. Others will keep working because the “gold” in our so-called “golden years” doesn’t have to come from just watching sunsets.
For many 70 really is the new 50. Increasingly people are rejecting the idea of retirement as a withdrawal. They want their later years to have as much meaning and purpose as their primary working years — or, in the case of many, more purpose and more meaning.”
Our first life phase is one of physical growth and learning; from birth to the time we finally leave full- time education, to embark on our careers and having and nurturing our own families.
The second phase is building our careers, climbing the ladder, our relationship with our beloved, and bringing up our own children.
So our third life phase starts when, for whatever reason, we move on from our full-time lifelong careers, our children move on independently into their second phase, and we begin a transformation and re-definition of our lives.
This redefinition starts by a realisation that if we retire at 60, we have a good chance of having 25 to 30 more healthy years ahead. So we will need to find something to do that will maintain our purpose in life, and we will also almost certainly need to reassess whether our savings and pension will be sufficient to allow us to enjoy that longer life to the full.
The word “Retirement” no longer reflects the reality of this day and age.
But it’s not about replacing the word, it’s more to do with replacing the long-held beliefs in society about what retirement really means.
So what are your retirement plans? Will your savings and social security, pension or superannuation benefits be enough to maintain your family’s quality of life in your retirement years?
I have stated my mission in life for the next 25 years (yes until I have been here for 92 years) as follows:
To change the predominant beliefs of the governments and people of the developed nations that older people are no longer valuable members of society, able to make an economic contribution to Society or their Nation.
This is far more important than whether the word Retirement is still relevant.
You can view the next “Introduction and Overview article here Older People Still Have Much to Offer: