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The Un-Retirement

Dr. Carolyn Anderson

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As a busy eye surgeon I have thousands of patients that are over the age of 65 and it is interesting how I have come face to face with incredible people who have contradicted nearly everything I have been taught to believe about retirement. There are a number of people who are more active, vital, and energetic over the age of 65 than a lot of us are at significantly younger ages.

There is one patient that particularly comes to mind who bounds into the room with the energy of a 29 year old and is still extremely active both philanthropically and with his business. He continues to do what he always did when he was younger but with even more excitement and passion and this is truly inspiring. I see people like this and I realize that they haven't really retired from anything, they have merely moved on to another exciting stage of their life. After seeing patients like this repeatedly it got me thinking about some strategies and techniques to provide us with a much richer and more rewarding retirement.

  1. I think we need to determine well ahead of that golden age of 65 what we really want to achieve during retirement. What larger purpose do we want to pursue and will it be so strong it will keep us vital and allow us to focus on contributing and doing something worthwhile for a number of years to come.
  2. I think you need to customize the idea of retirement to fit into your personality and lifestyle rather than viewing retirement as a finite age where you quit doing things. I think you want to approach life as an adventure. Don't look upon anyone else's parameters for what you should be doing at a particular age. Navigate your own life and make your own decisions about what is right for you.
  3. Finances. I think this does matter only to the degree that you would want to be able to fulfill your predetermined goals of what you want to be doing. So I think it's something we need to be thinking about earlier in life.
  4. Make an even greater investment in your health to prepare for your retirement. The current baby boomer generation is poised to have the longest retirement on record and with life expectancies skyrocketing because of advancements in medical care I think taking good care of yourself so you can enjoy your longer life becomes even more critical. In addition to this, a regular exercise program along with a healthy diet is known to significantly decrease the risk of developing many known ailments. Staying fit, trim, and full of energy will make you healthier and happier.

Dr. Carolyn Anderson MD. FRCSC

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