Perils of retirement can trip up joy if you don’t consider you still need purpose, panelists say
For those who have yet to experience it, retirement can sound like a wonderful bookend to a working career. That said, there are many factors that come with it that don’t often get discussed.
J. Scott McLagan, who currently works with the Knoebel Institute for Healthy Aging at the University of Denver, took on some of these issues via a friend of his who recently retired.
“The expectations before you get there tend to be, ‘Oh, I’m so excited to celebrate the end of my working career,'” he said. “I had a very good friend of mine who I worked with for many years. He kept telling me how excited he was about retiring. I get an email back in all caps: ‘What the ‘F’ do people do all day?’ I kind of knew we were in trouble here.”
He told this story on Tuesday during The Longevity Project event at The Arts Campus at Willits. Titled “Aging with Purpose,” the panel discussion was presented by The Aspen Times and the Glenwood Springs Post Independent.
Lee Tuchfarber, the founder and CEO of Renew Senior Communities, moderated the roughly hour-long discussion.
“All of a sudden you wake up and you don’t have a schedule, you don’t have a routine,” McLagan said. “That’s a big thing. We as human beings are habitual creatures.”
The four-person panel dealt with the topic of intentional aging and having the most fulfilling life, notably around or after retirement. According to Kari Cardinale, the senior vice president of digital strategy at Modern Elder Academy, “retirement” is a made up word that doesn’t have any true meaning, especially in today’s working world.
She put out the idea of “retiring the word retirement.”
“In this era, those who are in their 30s and 40s, retirement doesn’t really mean anything to them,” Cardinale said. “But their careers are totally different.”
Among the topics discussed was the differences men and women face in retirement. For women, they tend to live longer than men, which can lead to extended issues in retirement, from loneliness to financial dependency.
For men, a major concern is having real friends after their working career. According to McLagan, women are far better at building those types of real relationships, while men tend to have what he called “deal friends,” or those friends made exclusively through work.
“We maybe lost that skill during the working world,” he said. “We didn’t really have to. We had acquaintances and relationships based on our deal friends.”
Katherine Fry, a former human resources executive turned consultant and life coach, as well as Dr. Barbara Kreisman, also took part in the panel. Kreisman, who also works with the Knoebel Institute at the University of Denver, is married to McLagan, a fact they only let slip during the panel.
The Arts Campus At Willits opened its doors Friday evening to share a season preview with annual donors, followed by the musical stylings of Detroit based neo-classical pianist BLKBOK.