Professor Michelle Pannor Silver has recently been interviewed by Forbes Magazine on her book Retirement and Its Discontents: unfulfilling, rudderless and filled with a loss of identity, which focuses on the realities of retirement from a sociological perspective. Her book delves into the world of retired professionals who have found the transition to retirement challenging. She found that they often felt forced into retirement by family, friends and colleague members.
Michelle Pannor Silver is an Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus with joint appointments in the Department of Sociology and the Interdisciplinary Centre for Health and Society (ICHS). She also holds cross appointments at the Institute for Life Course and Aging and in the Department of Medicine. Her professional interests include Gerontology, aging and the life course, retirement, pensions, health care expenditures, health information seeking behaviours and perceptions about aging.
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You asked what their retirement parties were like. Why? And what did you learn from that?
When I started talking with people about what marked their retirement turning point, they often pointed to the party leading up to it. One man, an academic physician, described it as being more like a funeral; he felt like he was sitting there and people were talking about him as if he had died and it was the end of his life.
He realized he had a lot of things he was still working on, if not his best work still to come. And he decided to focus on doing the research he sought to be his life’s work. The party sealed the deal.
He would tell me: ‘I’m retired and have a set of historical fiction novels I’ve always meant to read and I’m interested in.’ He’d try to pick up one of the books that was supposed to be for fun and just couldn’t do it. He’d immediately gravitate to the medical journals that were work-related.