Most people regard retirement as a time to let go, relax and take things easy. But there are retirees who continue to work on the same job, take up a new job or venture into business. With increasing life expectancy, more years will be spent in retirement and there is a need to accumulate sufficient savings for retirement. Most retirees do not have adequate savings or defined-benefit pensions. Hence, older people have to continue working to meet the escalating cost of living and health care. Among retirees who have adequate savings or defined-benefit pension, there are those who are participating more actively than ever before in civil society activities or picking up new skills. For these people, the word “retirement” is not in their vocabulary. What motivates the older people to continue with their active engagement in work and society? Active engagement promotes emotional wellbeing and physical health, as well as social integration and support.
As Malaysia will be an ageing nation by 2030, there is a need to promote active and productive ageing to optimize the human resources.The experiences of retirees who are actively engaged in paid and voluntary work can provide valuable lessons to others.
This book project on active ageing was initiated in 2015. Letters were sent out to about 50 retirees to write about their own active engagement, and their views on preparation for retirement. We received 33 short autobiographies and two articles on retirees’ perspectives of active ageing.
The authors of the articles comprise mainly of academicians, and professionals from the corporate sector and the civil services. Most of the authors were over 70 years old, and a few were in their 80s. From these autobiographies, we could see that they have common traits such as having a strong self-efficacy, willingness to help others, and being passionate about their work and social engagement. They have all planned for their retirement and hence their active engagement is not driven by financial motivation, but rather their passion for work and a strong desire to contribute to the society. However, the authors do have some regrets such as not spending sufficient time with family and friends, and neglecting their health.
Different authors have their own style of writing. Most of the authors started their stories with brief accounts of their childhood experiences and family backgrounds which influenced their life journeys and achievements. The focus of these articles is the activities that they are doing after retirement, including their current work, engagement in civil societies, helping others, learning new skills, travelling and social interaction. The editors have made only very minor changes to the autobiographies in order to retain the individual styles.
We thank the authors for writing their autobiographies to share their experiences and views. It is hoped that the stories of the active engagements of these authors will inspire others to do the same. Those who are about to retire should prepare themselves for their impending new roles and challenges. The young generation should adopt a life course approach and begin retirement planning, so as to be able to emulate the seniors who have lived a purposeful life.