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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The retirement opportunity : understanding positive psychological change in later life Housser, Sarah Farris


The purpose of this study was to explore the experience of people who report positive psychological change following retirement in order to better understand the nature and process of this change. Using qualitative interpretive description methodology, semi-structured interviews were tape recorded, transcribed, analyzed for themes and interpreted for clinical application. This study found that following retirement the nine men and women aged 58-75 changed profoundly, and in ways that defy stereotypes about old age as a time of stagnation and decline. Adults whose career was characterized by discipline and responsibility became more playful and relaxed. They experienced an increased awareness, understanding and acceptance of the path their life had taken, including acknowledgement of mistakes and regret and responsibility for their life going forward. They experienced changes to limiting patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving, marked by increased flexibility, humility and autonomy. There were a number of similarities in how this group approached the transition to retirement. These cannot be conclusively linked to the changes participants experienced; however in looking at what was common to how they approached retirement, one may reasonably draw some inferences about approach to retirement and the outcome of change and growth. From this exemplary group of people we may derive best practices about managing retirement that can be brought to a broader group by way of retirement planning resources, counselling interventions and human resource policy and practice.

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