Advocate for the Aging

Defining my retirement dreams

I've been reading about the strikes going on in France over raising the retirement age. That got me thinking again.

Working in the home care for seniors industry, I see a lot of people who have nothing to do all day and feel their lives have no meaning anymore. Going to the dentist becomes an activity, something to do for the day. 

This is not what I dream about when I dream about retirement. I dream about buying a villa in Italy or Spain, with a view of the ocean, and sipping wine while I prepare spectacular meals.

Okay, that's probably not going to happen. When I let myself think about that dream I start to think "Who am I cooking for?" I guess I can make new friends there. But, then, what else am I going to do with my days? Is that enough to really keep me happy day after day? Who are these new friends I will be making? Are they also retired ex-pats? Probably. I don't speak Spanish or Italian.

About then is when I get realistic and realize that what I really need is to redefine retirement. Why do we have a "retirement age?" I can understand it if you have a physically demanding job. A 65-year-old body just can't keep up with the demands of some jobs. But then what? You just stop? You just play golf all day? I know too many people who retired and loved it for a couple of years before the mind-numbing boredom set in. Then, even more things start to go wrong with your mind and your body. You can't keep your mind sharp with golf and Sudoku and nothing else.

We need something in between, something where we can work and feel valued, but it won't kill us. We need a slower-paced work life. It's either that, or I'm going to have to learn to speak Italian.


Toni Reinhart

 |  October 28, 2010; 6:15 AM ET Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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