“PEOPLE aged 50 today generally look and feel younger than 50 years ago.  Advances in medical science mean that people with access to healthcare are living longer, healthier lives and extending their working lives.  The word “nevertiree” has been coined for people who aim to carry on working way past the time they were supposed to collect their gold watches.  Managers and employees require new skills to deal with this emerging trend. 

In SA, some people are forced to leave formal employment before they feel they are ready.   For them, says Johann Redelinghuys of executive search firm Heidrick & Struggles, the challenge is “to live a productive portfolio life after retirement”.  “The first step is to make the decision to have a productive life after retirement and not just to settle into a traditional life of extended leisure,” he says.  “A good portfolio life after retirement should have three or four substantial areas of focus that will enable someone to ‘repackage’ their skills and experience to work in a different way”.

Read Yvonne Fontyn’s fascinating article Retirement is a change of pace, not end of the road that first appeared today in BDlive published by Business Day.

Further excerpts

“As Joanna Legutko of the University of Cape Town department of actuarial science says, the nonfinancial factors that have a powerful effect on life satisfaction include social relationships, health, control over the environment, attitudes, demographic factors and activities.

“It is time for the retirement industry to stop thinking of retirement as a passive phase when all we do is concentrate on preserving our finances. This has a disempowering influence,” she says.  Retirement coaches can help those who are in need of empowerment.

Cape Town-based Hilary Henderson, who recently published 7 Questions to Answer Before you turn 65, says it is even more vital now to have a purpose in life.  “Start a new business, supplement your income and look after your health. We will live to our 90s.  We need to confront our beliefs around ageing and our value systems.  “Retirement is not the end of the road…. It is simply a fork in the road, sending you off in a new direction,” she says.  Typically, people go into a “honeymoon phase” shortly after retiring, says Henderson.

. . . . .

According to research by US gerontologist Robert Atchley, factors that lead to disenchantment include

  • having few alternatives;
  • not enough money;
  • poor health;
  • having been over-involved in a job;
  • experiencing other role losses; and
  • leaving the community in which the person has lived for years.

Henderson, a former occupational therapist, says she wrote her book partly to deal with her own concerns about retiring.  It tackles the core of the issue including:

  • where do I want to live when I am old and frail?
  • It also asks:
  • how do I turn my investment capital into a steady income?
  • What should I do about my health?
  • How will I structure my life to give it purpose?
  • How do I build a new social network?
  • Who can help me with all of this?
  • Having a positive attitude is essential.

One way to achieve this is to keep giving, be it in a family or to a community through volunteering or political activism.

. . . . .

Ramping up a fitness programme, by going to a class at a gym or by joining a hiking or bowls club, will curb another retirement bugbear — loneliness.  It is important to strengthen and maintain family ties, but also to join group pursuits such as a book club, as well as to play bridge or attend talks and workshops.

The digital age has revolutionised people’s ability to set up networking gatherings, says Henderson.