Ask someone what they think of when they hear the word "retirement" and – more often than not – the usual clichés abound.
Golf. Travel. Sleep. Beaches. Relaxation. Entertainment. The list goes on.
To be sure, these are all desirable activities to engage in at almost any stage of life. They bring satisfaction, health benefits, and are generally known to improve quality of life. They've become the well-known pillars of retirement for a reason.
Over the past decade, however, a growing number of retirees and older adults have begun asking, "Is there something more I could be doing?
The answer – according to the team behind the popular Redefining Retirement program – is "Yes."
Redefining Retirement is a series of interactive and self-reflective workshops aimed at getting retirees to think more deeply about how they want to spend their so-called golden years. Launched in 2018 in a face-to-face classroom setting, the program is set to roll out in January in an online-only setting. And, according to 73-year-old Chris Pelham – one of the program's leaders – the timing couldn't be better.
"COVID-19 has changed us in many ways, but in particular it has forced us to sit with our thoughts and think about what is important to us," he says. "At the same time, it has changed our perception of what may or may not be possible during retirement, and with travel being restricted, people are beginning to re-examine how they can engage with their own communities."
According to Pelham, the program – which has been completed by more than 100 older Nova Scotians since it began – is not just a program, but a movement.
"We've known for many years that the conventional definition of retirement is incomplete, at best. We're seeing so many people in their 60s, 70s, and 80s who want to roll up their sleeves, connect with their communities, and have a meaningful impact. Through this program, they might choose to reconnect with their interests and passions, start part-time businesses, find meaningful volunteer activities, and invest in their communities. They'll get to do it in alignment with their schedule, their personal goals, their skills and their resources."
In other words, he says, they'll get to pursue meaningful work and activities on their own terms.
"If we do our job properly," says Pelham, "we will make it easier for older adults in these communities to mobilize themselves towards personal and common social goals and economically beneficial pursuits. When that happens, we and the communities in which we live become stronger and more prosperous."
One impetus for the program was the 2017 SHIFT Report, Nova Scotia's Action Plan for an Aging Population. This report highlighted the need to change the way Nova Scotians value, promote and support older adults and their contributions to the province.
The Redefining Retirement Program is supported by the Province of Nova Scotia's Department of Seniors and is delivered by Third Sector Enhancement and the Acadia Entrepreneurship Centre. The cost to register is $295 per person, with an early-bird registration fee of $249.
To register, or for more information about the Redefining Retirement program, visit www.redefiningretirement.ca or www.facebook.com/redefiningretirementprogram.
Joel Stoddart can be reached by email at: email@example.com