Retirement is becoming obsolete, says ageing advocate

Font Size:

For previous generations, retirement was slated as the ultimate ending point of our working lives, something to strive to reach as soon as possible. However, studies continue to show that keeping older workers in paid employment helps boost their wellbeing by providing a sense of purpose while also keeping their body and mind active and alert.

It also means highly experienced workers can continue to share their expertise with up-and-coming colleagues in their field of expertise, adding value to their employer organisations.

While working full time forever is not the preferred solution for most people, it is becoming more popular for people to modify the terms of their employment as they get older. Whether it be moving from full-time to part-time work, or moving into a less senior role with fewer responsibilities, there are many ways to redefine what the final stage of your career looks like in this day and age.

This modification can be referred to as ‘transitioning down’ and is a fantastic solution in the era of increasingly flexible working conditions.

Of course, we need businesses and employer organisations to better engage with the older workforce, flexibly, and reap the value that is to be realised by doing so.

If you decide to take advantage of the transition down approach, you will greatly benefit from considered and strategic planning. This can be achieved through careful reflection on your own priorities, open and honest communication with your employer about what these priorities are, what capacity you are willing, and able, to contribute to paid employment and how this is able to be aligned with the needs of the organisation.

Before going to your employer, it is important to first identify what is personally important to you. What are your personal needs and preferences? What vocational, social and recreational priorities do you have for this stage of your life and how might these need to be adapted in the years ahead? 

Oftentimes, people wish to include a greater focus on time spent with friends and family, travelling and exploring new interests. This doesn’t need to be forfeited if you decide to remain in the workforce in your 60s, 70s or beyond.

It is important to keep in mind that your plans need to be adaptable, what seems certain at 50 may be off the agenda at 60, and things that may never have occurred to you as significant may suddenly become high priority in your use of time or as a requirement for your health and wellbeing.

It also means that time needs to be invested in reviewing the plans you have carefully made and considering whether they are still the best course of action for your immediate and perceived future needs.

Investing time in determining what your values are, and how you want to prioritise different aspects of your life and job, means that you can enter into any conversations or planning about transitioning down with a clear picture of what your ideal outcomes are. Just like any job negotiation, compromises are sometimes inevitable, but reviewing your situation and starting conversations early will help both you and your employer create a practical and mutually beneficial plan together.

Notably, financial situations can often dictate when you decide to step away from paid work, so this is also an important factor to include in your transition down approach. Realistic appraisal of your needs and future financial situation is crucial to your plans for reducing or ending your participation in the workforce and expert advice may be useful in this regard.

Regardless of why you decide to remain in the workforce, at a full-time or reduced load, making a plan will always be the best way to have a clear idea of what is to come and to stay in the driver’s seat when it comes to your life and your career.

Make time and space to consciously decide how you will find purpose and fulfilment in your later years and how an ongoing and readjusted work-life balance can contribute to that.

Marcus Riley is a positive ageing advocate whose career in the field of ageing and aged care spans two decades. He is the immediate past chair and current director of the Global Ageing Network and chief executive of BallyCara, a charitable organisation and public benevolent institution that provides accommodation, health, and care services for older people. He wrote the book, Booming, A Life-changing Philosophy for Ageing Well.

If you enjoy our content, don’t keep it to yourself. Share our free eNews with your friends and encourage them to sign up.

Join YourLifeChoices today
and get this free eBook!

By joining YourLifeChoices you consent that you have read and agree to our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy


COVID shock means one in five will delay retirement: study

An Australian Stock Exchange study suggests many Australians will delay retirement.

Retirement income system fails this group

A key area the government's Retirement Income Review must tackle.

Why banks are giving retirees and savers the cold shoulder

Interest rates on deposits have dropped again and the short-term outlook is ‘bleak'.

Written by Marcus Riley


Total Comments: 10
  1. 0

    50 is a bit young to be thinking about retirement. Many still have children to support and mortgages to pay off. It’s also a time to save for retirement. If your employer still wants to keep you on in your 60s and 70s thank yourself lucky but don’t believe it is the norm.

  2. 0

    I retired at 55 and am very glad I did so. It has given me the opportunity to do many things that were previously not possible. Normally I spend a couple of weeks every year teaching English as a foreign language in St Petersburg. This is the first year since 2007 when I have not taught.

    I also have the opportunity to do other things that I enjoy including: time with my grandchildren; time in the garden (I get a lot of compliments); to travel internationally, to spend time with friends (I worked in Australia, Indonesia and Bangladesh), for upto three months at a time; and, to document my travels and other activities.

    • 0

      This sounds so much better than working some crappy job & getting all stressed out & worn out physically & mentally & not being capable of enjoying retirement/OAP when it finally actually comes (at 90yrs of age if politicians & other idiots have anything to do with it)

  3. 0

    If work has always been your primary activity, and then you stop work without any other meaningful activities, in place is what can lead to problems. It’s not work that is paid work is what boosts well-being is having other meaningful activities and having structure in your day, so that your not wandering around with nothing but time on your hands trying to workout what your going to do all day. Those structures can be hobbies you’ve always wanted to pursue, time with grandchildren if you have them, exercises like bushwalking and bike riding. Study that you’ve always wanted to complete, or even volunteer work in an interesting area. Many many people don’t plan for retirement, and when you stop work, whether that’s by choice or your asked to leave by your employer if you don’t something else to go to you’ll drift.

    • 0

      I agree Jacks, people don’t plan for retirement or if they do its only about money. People who have always defined themselves by what they do (I’m an engineer, a teacher, a shop assistant etc) need to be prepared for what happens when that is no longer the case. If not they lose their identity as well as their regular income.

      Not to mention that suddenly spending all day everyday with the partner may not be as welcome or as happy as as you may have imagined! Those roles need redefining too!

  4. 0

    Women don’t get to retire. There is always work in the house to do. As more women work now they will start to realise that although they have retired from paid work, while the man puts his feet up, she will find that’s not the case for her.

  5. 0

    Retired earlier to see more of the world and now I am sure glad I did, cannot go anywhere now and by the time the gates are open again my age will go against me for travelling overseas. Travel insurance from 70 is prohibitive but I paid it just the same. Downsized earlier when it was not talked about and spent the difference in the years to 65 years of age. We each do things differently.

  6. 0

    After reading this article, I’m wondering if I’m still living in the real world.

  7. 0

    Sounds like bs to me! May be there is the odd idiot that wants to work til they’re 90 but most of us are knackered & burnt out mentally & physically from a shitty job/manual labour/shiftwork, etc etc & are keen as hell to retire & the only thing they are shitty about is that stupid governments are trying to steal it from us in the form of making us wait longer & longer for an old age pension so they can keep their own unrealistic retirement pensions & snouts in the troughs a lot longer themselves!



continue reading


The last blockbuster had an end of summer sleepover

Several months ago, the last Blockbuster store on Earth temporarily rebranded - as an extremely nostalgic Airbnb. A few lucky...


Best day trips from Melbourne

We've got more reasons than ever to embrace the adventures we can find in our own backyard and, luckily, Victoria...


Travel SOS: What's the deal with face masks and flying?

Ian has seen reports of people flying without masks and wants to know if it is safe. Q. IanI have...

Mental Health

Frequent travel could make you 7 per cent happier

Every now and then we come across a study that feels as if it's stating the obvious. Such is this...


Travel does at times confront us and make us squirm

Travel does at times confront us and make us squirm, which it should. Travel also can make us appreciate our...


You can now stay in a Buckingham Palace-inspired caravan

Have you ever wondered what Buckingham Palace would look like squeezed into a four-person caravan on the North Yorkshire coast?...


New measures will protect Australians from COVID-19 on all flights

Australia's national cabinet has announced new measures to protect Australians from COVID-19 on domestic and international flights and in airports....


Doctors call for action on social media’s health misinformation

The peak body for Australia's doctors has called on the government to invest in advertising to counter health misinformation being...