2.9 Work and Employment

“To find joy in work is to discover the fountain of youth”

Pearl S. Buck

One of the major transitions in later life for most people is the process of retirement. It has influences on our financial situation as we move away from monthly salary to pensions but it also affects our self-perception, our everyday life, our leisure time and our mental fitness.

If you have been the breadwinner of the family for 40 years, if you have defined yourself strongly through your work and found affirmation in it, or if your social contacts were mainly in your professional life, there is a great danger of falling into a deep dark hole.

Planning for this stage of life contains two aspects:

In regards to financial retirement planning: We all want to have a decent standard of living in retirement and the earlier we start making provisions, the easier it will be to achieve that. So first of all, try to find out more about your retirement age and the expected pension. Then make an estimate of how much you think you will need in retirement to maintain the lifestyle you want. More information on the financial aspects of preparation are in chapter 2.1 Finances.

Lifestyle planning has to do with active ageing. We need to consider how we stay fit and healthy, how our hobbies and interests including further education will figure in retirement, how our relationships with friends and family will change and a whole range of other aspects.

One important question is also whether we want to work in retirement including voluntary work. Some people might prefer – or need – to keep working in some form or another, for example in bridge employment, part-time, or self-employed, e.g. in an advisory capacity or also volunteering. Some studies have linked working past retirement with better health and longevity. This has to do with mental stimulation, the feeling of being needed, social contacts and other aspects. But be smart about what you are doing, don´t stay in a job you hate but look for something that gives you purpose.

“If you’re happy at work, that’s one sign that work may be good for your health.”
Nicole Maestas, Associate Professor of Health Care Policy at Harvard Medical School

Volunteering for elders and as an elder

A good practice example from Greece: Greek Red Cross

The Greek Red Cross was founded in 1877 and aims to care for and support injured, sick, elderly, refugees, people in financial problems and generally help vulnerable groups of the population. Volunteering in the Greek Red Cross, e.g. as volunteer nurses or social workers, offers to people the possibility to be active and help the people who are in need while also giving back to the community.

More information: http://www.redcross.gr/default.asp?pid=19&la=1

Many non-profit organisations are grateful for support. As a younger person, you can support for example older people, and thus get to know their needs better. As an older person, you can be mentally and physically active while contributing your experience to society.

References & further reading
  1. “Retirement Ages.” Finnish Centre for Pensions, https://www.etk.fi/en/work-and-pensions- abroad/international-comparisons/retirement-ages/. https://www.etk.fi/en/work-and-pensions- abroad/international-comparisons/retirement-ages/
  2. “Working Later in Life Can Pay off in More than Just Income.” Harvard Health, 1 June 2018, https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/working-later-in-life-can-pay-off-in-more-than-just-income.