Retirement: A blank canvass Retirement: A blank canvass

Retirement: A blank canvass

Special 11 December, 2016 Ana María López de Mesa

During this stage of life people can work for themselves through a process of self-determination. 

Medical advisor Nora Hincapié Gerontologist.

“I have moved on to a better life,” is what most people say when they enter this new phase where there is time to read books, write, attend workshops, and can spend time with others who have a variety of interests and hobbies that they have set aside in order to work.

Not everyone sees the positive side of this new phase of life, however. Going from working five or six days a week with a set schedule, to having a lot of free time can as with any big change bring feelings of resistance. This can lead to fear and to questions about not knowing what to do.

Nora Hincapié Gil, gerontologist, researcher and professor of educational programs for the elderly, explains that companies and agencies should offer transition program for future retiree that begin the year prior.

“Just like when you receive an orientation when you begin to work at a company, there should be trainings or several workshops on retirement so that the person develops an awareness of the change they will experience and of the process that they will face. These will help develop new life goals and objectives that are based on people’s values, strengths and situations; helping to get the most out of this new phase,” Hincapié states.

She adds that this is the time to reassess yourself. When before you used to work for a company or for someone else, now you have the opportunity to work for yourself through your own self-determination.

It is also important to consider that there are additional, emotional situations that can complicate retirement, such as not having your children at home and having less responsibilities. This indeed is a new life that will require some adjustment.

Traditionally, it is common for retirees to join exercise groups, which is important because it is important to remain active. Currently, the trend is for universities to offer academic programs to this age group. According to Hincapié, this is because “There is a new generation of retirees that are more intellectual and are more skilled in their academic background, they have degrees and postgraduate studies and have had a more interesting career path.”

Conversely, when people retire and return home to spend the majority of their time there, this takes some getting used to. During this period, conflict can arise on issues such as the cleanliness of the house and partners can begin to feel uncomfortable because they lose a large part of their space. With regard to the difference between men and women’s adjustment to retirement, Nora Hincapié clarifies that it is harder on men because they socialize less and feel like they have little to offer. Women on the other hand, also took on other responsibilities while they worked, making it easier to stay occupied at home. Women also tend to have more life goals and have an easier time socializing•


The trick is to prepare

Retirement is like a blank canvass. You can design and color your canvas however you want. Here are some fulfilling activities for new retirees to consider:

  • Join an exercise group that schedules trips, plays bingo and does arts and crafts.
  • Dedicate more time to hobbies such as painting, reading, writing or cooking, among others.
  • Challenge yourself to taking a course, begin postgraduate studies or attend academic events such as seminars and congresses on topics that interest you.
  • Spend more time with your family, make up for lost time.
  • Travel. Get to know new places and cultures, enjoy and have fun.
  • Attend cultural events such as expositions, concerts, plays, movies, festivals, etc.
  • Join a theater group, dance group, choir or art studio.
  • Become a volunteer at a hospital or at non-profit institutions and social projects.
  • Nora Hincapié highlighted the fact that retirees in Europe become volunteers as tour guides and in Cuba, they become academics where they give classes to others based on their knowledge and experience.
  • Join your local community action council or city council.