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 October 2018 edition of Exploring Retirement. In 2018 we are exploring some of the roles open to people in "retirement". Not necessarily full-time, not necessarily paid but all of them interesting! This month we are looking at "Voluntourism", a term used to describe a period spent living and working overseas. Voluntourism is apparently becoming very popular with the newly retired who are seeking a sense of adventure after a lifetime of work and family responsibilities.

Exploring Retirement is fast becoming the most comprehensive source of ideas for an active retirement lifestyle on the internet.

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 editor@exploringretirement.co.uk. 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

Positive Retirement Study

Researchers at Northumbria University (Newcastle, UK) are conducting research to better understand what makes a positive, healthy retirement. They believe this is an important topic due to the number of older adults who have a negative retirement experience, for example, feeling depressed, lonely, or have poor physiological health.

The research team are currently recruiting retirees (or soon to be), to take part in a longitudinal study which will track their experience from employment to retirement. We hope that by taking part in this research and contributing to the knowledge around retirement transitions, you can help future retirees enjoy their well-deserved retirement.

To learn more about the study, please click here.

Quote - Unquote

"Cessation of work does not mean cessation of expenses".

Cicero. 106 - 43 BC

"Retiring Retirement"

The title of this month's editorial comes from a BBC radio programme I happened to listen to a few weeks ago. The presenter began by remarking on the trend that the majority of people can expect to live longer and healthier lives than their parents did. He went on to say that many people, certainly in the UK, simply are not saving enough from their income to finance a retirement that could last 30 - 40 years or more. He quoted from the best selling book "The 100 Year Life" that suggests many people will need to continue to work into their seventies and beyond in order to fund the lifestyle they want.

In the UK the State Pension age has traditionally been 65 for men and 60 for women. This is now set to change, with a gradually equalising so that the age when women qualify will rise from 60 to 65. There are more changes planned. From 2019, the State Pension age will increase for both men and women to reach 66 by October 2020. The UK Government is planning further increases, which will raise the State Pension age from 66 to 67 between 2026 and 2028. After this the State Pension age will be kept under review, which means that it could change again in the future, depending on different factors, such as changes in life expectancy.

The arguments for raising the pension age are based on a number of factors. Average life expectancy has been increasing, while the birth rate has been falling. This is putting a strain on the the country's ability to provide pensions which are funded through taxation of those in work. By requiring people to work longer, the period for which the pension must be paid is reduced and their contribution through taxation is increased. Also, so the argument goes, they will have longer in which to save to supplement their pension from the state. This is important because the state pension is one of the lowest in Europe being barely enough for subsistence living.

A recent Report from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) calculated that a typical British worker will, at retirement, receive a state pension and other benefits worth around 29% of what they had previously been earning. That compares with an average of 63% in other OECD countries, and more than 80% in Italy and the Netherlands. The report said this expected “net replacement rate” will be the lowest of any OECD country.

Lord Wei's Report

A Report by Lord Wei entitled Next steps: Life transitions and retirement in the 21st century, recommended the setting up of a National Retirement Service, to enable retirees to navigate and take more control over their transition into a more fulfilling, flexible, and productive life – one which could in turn bring benefits to all.

The National Retirement Service would be designed and led by retiring people for retiring people. This would help improve the image of retirement and enable people to not only cope with the transition but to take control of their lives and achieve a better balance between work, leisure, and civic engagement.

The Report went on to suggest that life transitions, such as retirement, may benefit from a focus on capabilities rather than needs and tackling the barriers that prevent working with older people as a national resource, while treating them as assets rather than as liabilities.

In many ways Lord Wei's recommendations seem rather similar to an American initiative, "Discovering What's Next", which I wrote about in the October 2015 issue of Exploring Retirement. As I wrote back then, Discovering What's Next became an educational centre, drawing on the expertise of volunteers and peers in the community to share knowledge, networks, and advice across a broad range of issues. All of their activities were generated and delivered by community members, by and for peers, friends, and families.

Featured Activity: 50 Plus Apprenticeships

The radio programme I referred to above contained a number of interviews with older people who were working on past the previously expected retirement age of 60/65. In particular they featured a gentleman who had found new employment in his sixties through an Adult Apprenticeship scheme run by Barclays Bank. He is currently employed as what Barclays describe as "an essential banker", which is a customer services position. It is part of his role to greet customers who want to discuss their financial position with the bank. They may need a short-term loan for instance or want to renegotiate their mortgage. As it turns out, many older customers have shown a real preference for someone older, who looks like the old fashioned image of a high street banker. To prepare for this new role he dresses neatly in a suit, complete with a waistcoat, a silver watch chain and a neatly pressed handkerchief in his breast pocket!

The programme also included an interview with Barclays Head of Apprenticeships. When asked why the bank was recruiting older workers he referred to the good supply of this particular demographic and spoke very favourably about the wide range of skills they can bring. He also mentioned their ability to relate to older people as they have had many of the same experiences in their own life.

A recent report that examined the experience of older apprentices in the UK made three important recommendations.

  • All those involved in selecting and training apprentices should be trained in age/ diversity awareness and unconscious bias.
  • Previous experience should be recognised and valued.
  • Systems and processes should enable widened participation and recognise diverse lifestyles and responsibilities.

This last recommendation is meant to recognise the fact that many older workers have family responsibilities. They may still have children at home or be caring for grandchildren or elderly parents. Lengthy periods away attending training courses can be a real problem.

Reference: A new start? Negotiations of age and chrononormativity by older apprentices in England. Leonard P, Fuller F, Unwin L, Ageing and Society, 38(8), August 2018

The BBC programme concluded with a brief interview featuring Professor Linda Grattan from London Business School. Professor Grattan is one of the authors of the 100 Year Life, the best selling book that explored the implications of our increasing life expectancy and especially the necessity for retraining older workers when the average life could be expected to last for 100 years.

Here is a short video featuring Professor Grattan. In it she discusses the need for more people to prepare for a "retirement" that could include cycles of work and training.


Michael McSorley

Michael and his wife have been to the beautiful South-West of Ireland, an area that attracts many visitors each year. To find out why so many people from all over the world come to this part of Ireland, and what there is to do when they get there, read Michael's article by clicking here.

Jeanette Lewis

This month Jeanette is writing about "Gerontechnology", a term that may be new to many of our readers. To learn more about the technologies being developed to assist us as we grow older, click here to read Jeanette's thought provoking article.

Photo Gallery

Before the memory of warm summer days fades, here is a picture taken in our local park - a beautiful rhododendron in full bloom with it's petals carpeting the grass below. I am grateful to my friend Ronnie McClements for sharing this lovely image with us.

If you have a favourite photo of a local beauty spot that you would like to share, why not send it to us for publication in a future issue of Exploring Retirement?