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Transition Retirement

Anticipation And Preparation

With a retirement stage solidly lodged on the mental map of life, there is a gathering, informal involvement in the topic that begins years prior to the event. In thinking about their retirement timing and lifestyle, current workers can now draw on the experience of a generation of older role models who have already retired in an era of reasonable income security.

Thoughts of retirement have many prompts. Nearly half of U.S. workers participate in a pension plan at their place of employment. All of these plans have eligibility ages with which employees are familiar, and some plan participants direct their accounts. In the media, adults of all ages have been targeted with ubiquitous advertising of products and services for retirement saving. In politics, the solvency of Social Security has become a prominent theme of each national election cycle.

Workplaces in particular shape an awareness of retirement. For workers with steady employment, promotional timetables and seniority principles draw the arc of an organizational career. Seniority principles grant long-tenure workers better positions and pay in return for the acknowledgment that they will someday surrender their jobs to younger workers. Pension plans can have incentives that encourage retirement within a certain age window, which then becomes a firm’s customary time for retirement. Employers and coworkers can communicate subtle biases against older workers. Despite legal prohibition of age discrimination in matters of promotion and hiring, and despite evidence that amply demonstrates the skills, loyalty, and trainability of older workers, the idea remains firmly entrenched that creativity and energy are qualities found in younger workers. Job uncertainty, undesirable work assignments, promotion disappointments, supervision by younger managers, or a perception that ‘‘this isn’t the place it used to be’’ are all cues that raise the attractiveness of retirement and hasten emotional disengagement from work roles. However, it is pension availability that permits workers to covet the greener grass of retirement.

With advancing age, retirement becomes topical not just among coworkers and friends, but also at home. Marriage and other family responsibilities influence retirement preparations. Spouses, particularly those in dual-earner households, have an obvious stake in one another’s plans, and they may coordinate their exits if each one’s respective pension eligibility schedule allows it. Families that still include dependent children are likely to delay the consideration of retirement while educational expenses compete with retirement saving needs.

These are external cues to an awareness of retirement. Health problems and diminished work capacity are a well-established prompt to retirement. Some authors have identified a subjective switch that takes place in the minds of people in their fifties. Having previously assumed an unbounded future, adults come to focus on the finiteness of life. Mindful of their mortality and now starting to experience the deaths of age peers, workers grow to view retirement as a means to conserve their health and pursue valued personal goals.

The top piece of advice that current retirees offer to those who are still working is ‘‘Plan ahead.’’ Most formal programs and aids for planning one’s retirement center on financial topics, but finances always presume many other questions about lifestyle preferences. Whether with the advice of experts, family members, coworkers, or friends, the immediate preretirement period is a good time to take stock of numerous issues. These include residential options, family ties and obligations, preservation of health, legal matters, and use of time once retired. Couples should also make contingency plans for widowhood.

Additional topics

Medicine EncyclopediaAging Healthy - Part 4Transition Retirement - The Modern Norm Of Retirement, Anticipation And Preparation, Passage To Retirement, Adaptation, What Should Retirement Be?