Retirement can be a challenging phase in one’s life, but it can also be an opportunity to explore new interests, build meaningful connections, and give back to the community.
Earlier this week, I had the opportunity of attending the 82nd birthday of a friend. Only family and close friends were there. He was greeted in a very traditional manner with a ‘tilak’ and a garland by a 92 year old retiree. Both the persons had retired long back from government organisations. Both were healthy and cheerful and sharing their knowledge and experiences. What emerged was that they had taken the right direction to un-retire themselves.
Retirement is a natural phase in everyone’s life. After years of working hard, it’s time to take a break and enjoy life’s simple pleasures. However, retirement can also bring health challenges and feelings of isolation. In India alone, around 15,000 people cross the age of 60 every day, many of whom have retired from their jobs. Let us explore how seniors can stay active, healthy, and engaged in their retirement years.
The Challenges of Retirement
Retirement can be a difficult phase for many individuals, especially those who were used to a structured routine for most of their lives. After retirement, it’s common to feel lost, bored, and isolated. Moreover, many seniors face health challenges that require constant care and attention. Many retirees, on being asked as to what’s the difference in life now for them, say, they miss doing the work that they loved and how they would have loved to continue. Another fear that constantly haunts them is losing the identity which they had created working all these years.
Staying Active in Retirement
Physical activity is crucial for seniors to maintain their health, prevent chronic diseases, and improve their overall well-being. According to the World Health Organization, adults aged 65 and over should engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity per week. However, research shows that only 1 in 4 seniors meet this recommendation.
Fortunately, there are many low-impact exercises that seniors can do to stay active, such as walking, swimming, cycling, or yoga. Regular exercise can reduce the risk of chronic diseases, such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, by up to 40% as per one study. Moreover, exercise can also improve cognitive function, reduce depression and anxiety, and enhance social connections.
Finding Purpose in Retirement
Retirement can be an opportunity for seniors to explore new interests, learn new skills, and give back to the community. It is commonly observed that seniors who engage in social and productive activities tend to have better physical and mental health outcomes than those who are socially isolated.
Few retired people get re-employment. Some get work as consultants. For those retired people who do not have any fixed work, it is necessary to find a direction for themselves as soon as possible. This work may not necessarily be a source of some income. If we do any work that gives us satisfaction, where our time is spent well, we automatically get many benefits from it. We will be happy, our time will be spent among people, our health will be fine. We will avoid going to the doctor often and save a little more.
One way to find purpose in retirement is to volunteer. Volunteering can provide seniors with a sense of purpose, social connections, and opportunities to give back to their community. There are many voluntary organizations which are on the lookout for retired persons, sometimes on remuneration also. And they have a reason for this. These retirees have so much of knowledge and experience which can be put to good use. They can deal with others in a better fashion. And most importantly they don’t look for alternate engagements.
A lot can be done individually as well. To give an example, a person started giving tuition to poor children around. Another example is of a person who started helping residents in the neighbourhood with their obligations in fulfilling some or the other statutory requirements.
There are many such tasks which can be found and which are doable. One only has to decide to start engaging in some positive work today itself.
Retirement can be a challenging phase in one’s life, but it can also be an opportunity to explore new interests, build meaningful connections, and give back to the community. It is well known that seniors who participated in community service reported improved mental health and well-being. Giving back to the community can also have a positive impact on physical health. By staying connected to their community and engaging in meaningful activities, seniors cans enjoy a fulfilling and rewarding retirement experience.
Vijay Maroo is a volunteer with EKAL, Vidya Bharati, and Param Shakti Peeth. He has launched https://neversayretired.in – a resource for Senior Citizens towards Nation Building. He is also the brain behind http://BharatMahan.in – a portal for positive news. You can follow him on Twitter.