Claire Thompson
August 22, 2022

Retirement: How Did You Ever Find Time to Work?

easyStorage takes a look at modern retirement and wonders how we ever had time to work.

Many retirees totally reject the ageist myths that retirement means a life in decline. Many want to feel more useful than youthful. Retirement is something to be looked forward to and embraced, whilst dreaded in equal measure.

Life expectancy in the UK is 84 years for men and 86 years for women.  The average retirement age in the UK is just under 65, though it varies by gender and region and is rising. (In the south west, for example, around one in 5 people won’t retire until they’re in their 70s). That’s a good two decades of retirement for many.

Retirement can be an exciting, fulfilling life stage with new choices, new freedoms and new challenges. For some it’s their time to finally rest and relax, but for others the freedom from responsibilities means the chance to pursue new and existing interests.

Many have never found themselves busier, and the real challenge is ensuring that ‘busy’ is also ‘fulfilling’.

The dread of retirement generally comes from feeling that you’re past your prime, and it’s in many ways the dread is justified. Meeting new people often starts with the question “And what do you do?” Say “retired” and watch the reactions.

older couple moving boxes into storage

Not going to work can result, for some, in a loss of social contact, a lack of purpose – so it’s unsurprising that many people choose to continue working in some shape or form, either in existing roles but on new terms (for example part time) or by volunteering for roles in local councils or charities.

Positive, meaningful and supportive relationships with friends and family are also vital in retirement. Meeting friends for drinks, meals, games, or sport is important. Social contact keeps minds busy and friendships alive. For people on their own, it’s essential. Social isolation is linked to increased risk for heart disease, dementia and death. So it’s right for retirees to consider socialising an investment – someone will probably need to offer them care and support in old age.

Meanwhile grandparents often enjoy their grandchildren because they are removed from the routine responsibilities of parents – spoil them, feed them with sugar and give them back!

However, sometimes grandparents assume full-time or part-time responsibility for their grandchildren. Sometimes this is because there are few alternative choices.

Sometimes, however, it’s down to grandparents to have to strongly assert themselves to get the balance right.

Either way, it’s worth noting that, for many, time spent with children, be they rabble rousing toddlers or moody teens, can be incredibly rewarding. It offers the companionship of younger people and the satisfaction of seeing them grow. Grandchildren can offer both a new purpose and meaning to life.

Smart retirees will also put time into their own physical and mental health. Most of us can, sadly, expect an age-related illness at some stage, but many illnesses are avoidable or manageable to some degree with a good mix of good food and good exercise – and it’s never too late to start. Every little bit helps.

Many retirees also choose to study and learn something new – the U3A, University of the Third Age, is an incredibly successful collection of more than 1000 charities. Their recent survey of retirees demonstrated the wealth of opportunities and experiences that people have chosen to explore in later life/retirement:  37% have become involved with a charity, 21% have started learning a new language and 19% have travelled off the beaten track. These are all fabulous chances to keep mind and body active, and for that much needed social contact.

(Through the U3A my own father has written a novel, and my mother has learned to create stained glass, amongst a myriad of other things.)

Elderly couple drinking wine after retiring and moving house

Moreover, when you’ve worked hard and for irregular or long hours, you may not have had any time for hobbies. Retirement offers the chance to pursue, long overdue, that hobby or interest.

For many, however, their ‘bear bug’ is technology. Everything from phones to fridges, from Government websites to restaurant menus has gone ’digital’.

It’s not easy to learn, but technology allows contact with friends and family wherever they may be. Many new retirees have grown up and worked with technology, but others haven’t. For them, learning and getting to grips with technology not only opens the door to increased social contact, but also sharpens the mind by learning something new.

Between creating new connections and maintaining existing ones, having time for hobbies at last, learning new things, taking on grandchildren, volunteering, keeping fit, studying, travelling and even battling with new technologies, it’s small wonder that many retirees feel they don’t know how they ever had time to work – and are finding retirement the most meaningful and fulfilling time of life.

Useful resources:

Claire Thompson

Claire joined the easyStorage family as a blogger in August 2020 and is loving it! Her passions include writing and learning, and with easyStorage she’s learning new things fast. When not tapping at a keyboard she can be found renovating an old cottage, despite having inherited a complete lack of DIY skills from her father. She has two children, now grown up, and a dopey, loving Vizler (dog), Chester, who steadfastly refuses to do the same. She claims he’s her soulmate!

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