Exploring Retirement

"The institutions and instruments which have been created to meet the problem of ageing, are in no position to provide us with a policy for that great majority of retired people who present no problem at all"

Peter Laslett: A Fresh Map of Life.

Welcome to the January 2017 edition of Exploring Retirement! All of us at Exploring Retirement would like to wish our readers a healthy and happy New Year! In 2017 we will be exploring various examples of creativity in retirement. If you are engaged in a creative activity we would love to hear from you.

Exploring Retirement is written by and for retired people, to assist active retirees make the most of their additional years of good health. If you are interested in writing for Exploring Retirement, please contact For ideas to write about, have a glance at the July 2014 issue of Exploring Retirement, available by clicking on "Past Issues" in the navigation bar on the left of this page. These are only suggestions, please contact us if you have a different topic you would like to share your thoughts on.

We trust that you will continue to enjoy our monthly publication and please tell your friends about the site.

Writing team

We have three regular contributors on our writing team. Here they are with a brief note explaining their principal areas of interest:

John Copelton, EditorDr John Copelton - well-being in retirementMichael McSorley, contributorMichael McSorley - lively comment on sport and cultureJeannette Lewis, contributorJeannette Lewis - inspiring ideas on retirement living

Creativity in Retirement

"Creativity is a universal characteristic of people... there is no exception. The key question isn't "What fosters creativity?" But it is "Why in God's name isn't everyone creative? Where was the human potential lost? How was it crippled?"

Professor Abraham Maslow

Maslow also believed that "A first-rate soup is more creative than a second-rate painting." In other words we should not limit our definition of creativity to trying to emulate Pablo Picasso! We can't all be great artists but we all have a talent for something. As Dolly Parton once remarked "Find out who you are and do it on purpose!"

Retirement is a time for experimentation and exploration. How do you know what you are capable of until you try? Over the next twelve months we will take a close look at many different forms of creative endeavour.

Creativity and Ageing

In 2007 I visited the USA on a Churchill Fellowship, seeking to learn about initiatives for and by people in the third age. One person I was particularly keen to meet was Professor Gene Cohen, Director of the Center on Aging, Health and Humanities at George Washington University. Research by Professor Cohen et al (The Gerontologist: 2006, 46: 726-734) had confirmed a direct correlation between creative expression and healthy ageing. Participants in the study were 166 healthy, older adults who were assigned to either an intervention (chorale) or comparison (usual activity) group and assessed at baseline and after 12 months. The results showed a demonstrable improvement in nearly every variable tested - from a heightening of morale and the lessening of depression to an increase in social and recreational activities as well as a decrease in doctor visits and medication usage.

Unfortunately for me, Gene's wife had already decided that her workaholic husband was taking a family holiday and that was that! He was kind enough however to suggest that I might meet with his colleague Dr Gay Hanna. Since our meeting Gay has become Executive Director of the National Center for Creative Aging in Washington, DC. She is passionate about older people continuing to grow and realise their full potential. As Gay rightly says, "It's a great time to explore!" You can watch an interview with Gay here.

Featured Activity - Age of Creativity

Age of Creativity is a UK based online platform to share, celebrate and inspire work in the field of arts and older people. The site is primarily intended for those with an interest in the arts and who would like to communicate their passion to others. You can use the site to find out what others are doing in your field and whether anything is available nearby.

Age of Creativity are passionate about the impact that involvement and participation in the arts can bring towards improving wellbeing, physical health and reducing social isolation. They believe that everyone should have the possibility to access and take part in high quality, diverse and interesting arts opportunities. Whilst there is plenty of high-quality work going on across the UK in the arts and older people field, it is not always easy for those planning and delivering that work to find out what others are doing and to share their own experiences to help the sector grow.

The aim of the website is to provide a space in which the sector can find out about what else is going on, to find inspiration, helpful resources and also to discover opportunities. They also want their forum to be a starting point for discussions and debate. By bringing this work together in one place they hope to make it more accessible to those in the wider ageing sector, to health & care professionals, to commissioners and to to policy makers. Ultimately the aim is to inspire others to engage with the community on sparking new projects using the arts. The Age of Creativity website covers a very wide range of creative activities and invites you to add more. At the moment the main categories include:

  • Craft
  • Dance and Movement
  • Drama and the Written Word
  • Festivals
  • Film and Multimedia
  • Music
  • Story Telling and Reminiscence
  • Visual Arts

The site is managed by Age UK Oxfordshire and supported by the Baring Foundation, whose programme of work in arts and older people has helped many of the organisations featured on the site pioneer new practice and reach new audiences. To learn more about Age of Creativity, take a look at their website at, or click here


Michael McSorley

Michael has been attending a course on Philosophy. To find out what (if anything) he has learned as a result, click here

Jeanette Lewis

I believe that many people behave "old" because they conform to what they think is expected of them rather than how they actually feel. Jeanette's article takes a long, hard look at growing old "ungracefully". Click here to read her article.


Reflections is intended to showcase short pieces of poetry or prose that reflect on our life experience. This month features the final poem in my possession by my late friend and colleague, Philip Clarke. Christmas can be a time of gentle sadness as we recall memories of our own childhood and those who are no longer with us to share Christmas. To read "Home", by Philip Clarke, click here.