Senior Matters: Retirement a golden opportunity
RETIREMENT - it's a concept that many people in the workforce don't want to consider.
It is a word that induces fear and dread into a lot of workers.
Of course the word itself can have negative messages if you take the meanings from the dictionary - meanings such as withdraw, seek seclusion or shelter, cease or give up employment and withdraw from society.
These are all meanings that do not necessarily relate to the actual idea of retirement.
But is there any other word that provides a better meaning - maybe 'opportunity' could be one word that better reflects what leaving the paid workplace means. The opportunity to move into a different stage of life.
The opportunity to do those things that you have always wanted to do but were constrained from doing by having to front up to work every day.
So why is the magic age for retirement 65?
Although that is not now the case as people can continue to work past this age if they wish and are capable of so doing.
Well I have heard two different stories surrounding this.
And one should not let the truth get in the way of a good story.
Firstly there is the story that it was Chancellor Otto Von Bismarck of Germany in the early 1880s who concocted a first-of-its-kind social insurance program wherein the national government would contribute to the pensions of nonworking older Germans.
According to the story age 65 was determined because that was Bismarck's age at that time.
The second story I heard was born in Australia when the New Federal Parliament was considering paying a pension to older Australians.
The story, as I heard it, goes something like this - a question was asked by the politicians of the time over a sherry at their club 'what is the average age that Australians die?' The answer they received was that Australians die at the average age of 65.
Right they said that is the age we will provide older Australians with a pension.
True or false? Either way they are both good stories and I must admit I prefer the second to the first, but only because it is Australian.
However, this does not explain why so many shun the retirement word.
I have often heard people say in general conversation: "I can't even think about retiring. What would I do if I don't go to work each day?" and "I do not want to be bored sitting at home with nothing to do."
Hello! From experience I find that I now need a diary to tell me what I am doing each day, something I didn't need before. I am now so busy I do not know how I ever had time to go to work.
The downside is that now there are no days off, no sick leave, no holiday pay and no weekends. Every day is the same start time and finish time. Oh woe is me.
Surely, if people thought about this they could come up with lots of things to do in their retirement from the paid workforce.
There are a myriad of community organisations screaming out for more volunteers.
Organisations such as Legacy and Meals on Wheels and many more can all utilise the skills of those exiting the paid workforce.
There are so many organisations out there in the wide world to list here in this column and all of them need help in one way shape or form.
This of course does not mean that you have to become a slave to these organisations as you will no doubt find that other opportunities in your life will come up - travel if you are physically and mentally able, grand children to get to better know, gardening, oh and the list just keeps going. So see retirement as an opportunity and seize it with both hands and enjoy your older years!