From 65, we are on an emotional roller-coaster – for most of us retirement has arrived; at first we are euphoric – we no longer need to get up early, fight the traffic and work through that ever demanding action list.
Then comes excitement – as we plan to do the things we’ve always wanted to do – the holidays in exotic locations, giving proper attention to our hobbies, enjoying quiet coffees in our favourite cafe, the rounds of golf!
The third is peace – as we settle into a life of leisure.
The fourth is a slight disquiet – as the days stretch out ahead of us and we find ourselves pottering around doing nothing really.
The fifth is concern – about filling our days for the next 20 years and needing to be useful; and will we have enough money to see us through those 20 years.
The sixth is depression – we’ve nothing real to do and we just seem to get under people’s feet. What are we going to do for those 20 years?
The seventh is fear – these are old-age years – will we be healthy? Will our life have meaning as we get older?
The eighth is denial – that we will get old and frail – and heaven forbid, that we are going to die.
These emotions don’t necessarily follow this nice ordered sequence – it’s more likely that we jump from one to another, backwards and forwards, as events occur around us. Sometimes it will be a gentle nudge and other times, a 03:00 in the morning, wide-eyed staring at the ceiling, heart-pounding, wake-up.
And we tend to underestimate the magnitude of the changes we will go through – we have an awareness of changes hiding in the shadows, but we seldom bring them out into the light so we can deal with them effectively.
From 65, there is a spike in the divorce rate. Most marriages are based on a 4 hour day – an hour over breakfast and 3 hours over sundowners, dinner and TV. With retirement that jumps to 16 hours a day. Is that not sufficient grounds for divorce?
From 65, our bodies and our hormones are changing and with that there is a change in our sex life. Many couples lose the intimacy of their younger years – for men there is a decrease in testosterone levels and for women menopause can make sex uncomfortable. There is a need to talk about our changing needs and our changing emotions, but we find it so hard to have those conversations.
From 65, men generally want to slow down, relax and smell the roses; women want to get more involved in their community and their grandchildren. Those different interests and commitments highlight differences rather than create togetherness.
From 65, the days pass more slowly, so it’s drinks at lunchtime, sundowners, after dinner drinks and nightcaps. Unless we watch it, alcohol can be used to fill a long day.
From 65, comes a loss of identity and a feeling of uselessness as our career ends. Kicking back and doing nothing has an expiry date and it’s important to find our “mojo” again – to make a difference, to be of service, to feel valued.
From 65, it’s our opportunity to travel and see the world – but an elderly bladder needs the toilet often and immediately, and in a strange city those can be hard to find. The pillows in hotels and guest houses are too hard, too soft, too big, too small. Our plans in our 40s for travelling the world in our retirement seldom consider our aches and frailties – and the exchange rate is a killer.
From 65, neck wrinkles and comb-overs can’t be hidden anymore.
From 65, the Green Man doesn’t last long enough for you to get across the road.
From 65, cash flow starts to go backwards – and quickly.
From 65, modern music sounds even worse than it did when we were 55. Heaven help us when we are 75.
But it’s not all bad.
From 65, many of us are the last generation to be covered by generous pension funds and we are becoming the new wealthy – so let’s see suppliers and product developers recognizing the buying power of the elderly; treating us like valuable customers rather than refugees from an old age home.
From 65, the pressure is off. Our time is our own and we can choose how and where we get involved in events happening around us. Often we are disrespected because we are old – but with age comes wisdom and with that wisdom we can change the way others see the world.
From 65, we are healthier, stronger and better preserved than any previous generation – so let’s kick the stereotypes.
From 65, we are issued a licence to behave badly – if you haven’t got your copy yet, apply to your grandchildren.
And finally, from 65, because of modern medicine, we can look forward to another 20 years of life. How we choose to live those 20 years is largely up to us – the lifestyle choices we have made and will be making, will determine to a fair degree, the quality of those years.