Retirement of the primary career jobs is a milestone in the life course of older people, as it signals the transition into late adulthood (Kim & Moen, 2002). It is double-edged; it can endorse overall physical and mental well-being because workers leave challenging and nerve-wracking jobs on the one hand. On the other hand, retirement may mean the end of a significant source of identity to individuals as they lose their social network of colleagues and friends (Kim & Moen, 2002) as well as their daily routine they were doing for years. In this essay, I will identify three factors that contribute to physical and mental well-being in retirement concerning gender and culture.
Rowe and Kahn (1987) identify the primary components of healthy aging as the absence of disease and disability and lack of predisposing factors towards these, the maintenance of physical and cognitive function, and continued involvement in social activities and productive pursuits (Cherry, Broen, Kim, & Jazwinski, 2016), but what can lead to such healthy aging upon retirement?
Berk (2016) explains that some psychological and social factors, as well as education, can help predict physical and psychological well-being of the elderly after they retire. For example, their feeling of control has a significant impact on satisfaction. Individuals who decided to retire at their convenience are more satisfied than those who give up predictable events in a work-related context. Moreover, the social network of the individual reduces the stress she or he might encounter after retirement (Berk, 2016). Although the size of the social network of a retired individual might shrink outside the professional network, the quality of the network supports the individual mental well-being and reduces stress. Also, Berk (2016) adds that education as another factor that impacts the ability to cope with retirement. Well-educated people with sophisticated jobs have better adjustment owing to their possible ability to transferring their satisfaction and self-achievement from work to other nonwork activities.
As for gender, it has many implications on the nature of occupation and the timing of its onset and retirement, structural constraints, and situational requirements, and retirement and postretirement expectations and experiences (Moen, 1996). Also, the differences in men’s and women’s roles in life and familial pathways imply that their physical and mental health may differ upon retirement. According to Berk (2016), turning points in women’s career peak when they have to adjust their work lives to accommodate their marriage and childrearing responsibilities. From a financial perspective, women are expected to live longer than men with an average gap of five years (Berk, 2014), but women earn less than men, which leads to a financial crisis for women.
For culture, it has a considerable impact on how seniors embrace their retirement and their postretirement experience according to their gender. Lee and Cho (2018) explain that in a working couple, retirement sequence between who retires first, the man or the woman, affects the spouses’ mental health. In societies that have definite gender roles, men do not experience general life satisfaction if they retire first before their wives, and they do not take part in household work or any of her responsibilities because of the social norms (Lee & Cho, 2018).
Berk, L. E. (2016). Development Through the Lifespan. Boston: Pearson.
Cherry, K. E., Brown, J. S., Kim, S., & Jazwinski, S. M. (2016). Social Factors and Healthy Aging: Findings from the Louisiana Healthy Aging Study (LHAS). Kinesiology Review, 5(1), 50-56.
Lee, A., & Cho, J. (2018). Effects of Working Couple’s Retirement Sequence on Satisfaction in Patriarchal Culture Country: Probing on Gender Difference. The International Journal of Aging and Human Development, 87(3), 244-267. doi: 10.1177/0091415017727210
Kim, J. E., & Moen, P. (2002). Retirement transitions, gender, and psychological well-being: A life-course ecological model. The Journals of Gerontology: Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 57(3), 212–222.
Rowe, J. W., & Kahn, R. L. (1987). Human aging: usual and successful. Science, 237(4811), 143-149.