Sanjiva Wijesinha -writer and physician

Short stories, Travel and Health Information

Approaching Retirement

As I get older, particularly with each passing birthday, my thoughts keep turning to retirement.

Many of my friends and schoolmates have already retired or have announced that they will soon be retiring from the regular jobs they have been doing for the past few decades.

Most men as they get older start worrying about the right time to leave work – or even whether they CAN afford to leave work! While the financial aspects of retirement can be certainly be daunting, especially with the current economic situation, it is failing health that can be a bigger challenge for those nearing retirement.

My personal opinion is that if you have the opportunity to choose, is it better to wind down gradually (work less days each week or less hours each day) rather than going cold turkey and making a clean break?

Loss of Job

Men generally tend to identify themselves with their jobs. A man’s job is often associated with his self image and sense of status – so how does a man handle the grief and loss of giving up the job that virtually defined his being over several decades? Is it easy to cope with farewells to valued colleagues and long term customers, clients and patients – and to wake up one morning realising that you are no longer needed at the office or the hospital?

What about the likelihood of your marital relationship changing (for better or worse) after retirement ? The good wife who has been managing the household with (in her mind) great efficiency and acceptability may not always appreciate the increased presence of an unemployed husband around the house!

Men Need to Feel Useful

A significant need for men, especially as they get older, is to feel useful. With the average life span of men today being much greater than it was a century ago, the “compulsory age of retirement” is not a deadline that simply signifies a prelude (in contrast to the situation fifty years ago) to five or six years of preparation for death.

A successful transition to retirement requires a man to be flexible and adaptable to change. As Charles Darwin postulated, the species that are successful are not the strongest or the largest ones but those that are most adaptable to external change. So should it be with the male approaching retirement age – you should try to stay in good health and adapt to the changed circumstances instead of hankering for what is lost.


A useful preparation for retirement is to develop three hobbies that serve to optimise physical, mental and emotional health

A physical activity: this will allow you to maintain your physical wellbeing and keep fit. It does not matter whether you walk (with or without your dog / wife / friend!), swim or cycle, whether you join a gym or a dancing class, whether you play tennis or golf, whether you improve your flexibiltiy by doing Pilates or Tai Chi or Yoga. What is important is that you utilise the opportunity of looking after your body and keeping your heart, muscles and joints in good shape. If you don’t remain fit and active, poor health will certainly prevent you enjoying retirement!

A social activity: Man is a social being who needs to maintain connectivity to other sentient beings – and this type of activity helps to build up social networks which can gradually replace workplace networks. A suitable social activity that you enjoy serves the purpose of keeping you involved with like minded folk. It may be some form of voluntary work (charity work) or getting involved in an organization (examples are Rotary, the Freemasons, Lions, the temple or the church) or joining a local group to play bridge, to enjoy ballroom dancing or even to get together to go out for plays and shows.

A personal hobby: this is something that you can indulge in by yourself. It has the dual purpose of giving you something pleasurable to do even if it is raining cats and dogs outside – as well as keeping your brain cells active and staving off dementia. Reading, learning a new language or a musical instrument, collecting stamps or picture postcards, finally mastering the myriad uses of the computer or putting finger to keyboard to release that suppressed creative writer in you – the possibilities are endless!

So if you fail to plan in time for your retirement, you are surely planning to fail in having a happy, healthy and fulfilling retirement.



This entry was posted on June 26, 2013 by in Uncategorized and tagged , , , .

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