Advice For The Golden Years: 'Don't Ever Retire Mentally' | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

NPR : Tell Me More

Filed Under:

Advice For The Golden Years: 'Don't Ever Retire Mentally'

Play associated audio

Retirement can be an endless golf game or constant trips to the doctor, depending on a whole host of factors, including luck. But either way, it's a stage of life that's usually more difficult and expensive than people expect.

Tell Me More's series on end-of-life issues continues today, with a roundtable discussion at a retirement home in Washington, D.C.

The lively trio talking with Michel Martin features Gerry Elliott, 80, a retired congressional aide; Krishna Roy, 83, a retired economist; and Rhonda Nixon, 87, an ordained minister of the Presbyterian Church.

Happily, two of the people say they still feel youthful. "Things really haven't changed," Elliott says. "I still feel like I'm 21."

Not everyone is so fortunate.

As a recent poll by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health, suggests, many people still have an overly rosy idea of what the golden years will bring. Thirty-nine percent of retirees say their health is worse, compared with 13 percent of nonretirees' expectations for life after work.

Many people don't take into account financial obligations that hit long after they've settled into retirement, such as drug costs or the need for a personal caretaker.

Even seniors who plan for retirement often find that they haven't saved enough, an issue NPR covered in extensive detail last month.

None of the folks who talked with Tell Me More had expected the rapid rise of costs at their retirement home or the equally sharp plummet of their investments during the Great Recession. But even in flush times, as people are living longer and getting more medical care than they expected, they often find their savings run short.

Still, even in old age, money isn't everything.

Despite the challenges of managing finances, adjusting to a new environment and lifestyle, declining health, and the death of friends and family, these seniors' stories suggest there's hope for a peaceful, happy, and perhaps even joyful retirement.

Each of the seniors interviewed has tried to remain active and productive.

Elliott cites his vast range of interests and hobbies as an important part of staying youthful, while Nixon mentions that interacting with a variety of people, especially younger friends who could help her get out of the house sometimes, was key to her health. Roy extols both physical and intellectual exercises, and left listeners with the following bit of advice: "Don't ever retire mentally. Keep your mind alive."

People of any age would do well to follow their examples.

Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Rapper Jin Tries To Stretch His '15 Minutes' Of Fame

In 2004, Jin was one of the first Asian-Americans to drop a major label rap album. One controversial song, "Learn Chinese," raised eyebrows. A decade later, he's trying to rephrase the message.
NPR

Why Shark Finning Bans Aren't Keeping Sharks Off The Plate (Yet)

Fewer shark fins are being imported into Hong Kong, the epicenter of shark-fin soup, a culinary delicacy. But while the trade in shark fins may be down, the trade in shark meat is still going strong.
WAMU 88.5

Mixed Grades For Virginia's Ethics Overhual

The last-minute compromise was designed to pass in the General Assembly, but it wasn't built to please everybody.

WAMU 88.5

Transportation App Bridj Has Bus-Sized Ambitions For D.C.

It works similar to other ride-sharing apps, in that you establish a location and destination, and order a ride. But you'll be shown where to catch a Bridj bus, instead of getting a vehicle at your door.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.