In Tales from the Golden Age, retirees talk about whether life after work is what they expected.
Jean-François Pinsonnault, 73, Maxville, Ont.
I retired at the end of 2011, at age 62, from a career as an organizational development practitioner. One of the first things I did in retirement was take a one-month trip to Mexico. It was the longest vacation I had ever taken until that point in my life. I also spent a lot more time working in my two-acre garden in the rural area where I live, between Ottawa and Montreal.
In the early days of retirement I thought a lot about how I would reinvent myself. With the support of a good friend, I took “The Passion Test,” which I found quite helpful.
It inspired me to write a memoir about the time I spent as the main caregiver to my mother for nearly 15 years until she passed away in 1996. In 2017, I published the book Lasting Touch: A Mother and Son’s Journey of Joy, Challenges, Sadness and Discovery.
I also decided to do some consulting work based on my career in organizational development, with a focus on supporting seniors. For several years I did presentations for seniors and organizations that support them, sharing my experience, ideas and tips on adapting their homes and making their environment more convenient for their changing needs. I did that work up until COVID-19 came along in early 2020.
During the first few months of the pandemic I became quite angry at what I was seeing; seniors being abandoned and people dying because they were unable to get much-needed medical procedures. I started researching best practices for seniors’ care around the world, took some online courses, and began working on my next book. While my first book was a memoir, the second one is a how-to guide for seniors to live safely and comfortably at home.
That book, Ageing Safely in the Home of YOUR Choice, was released earlier this year. It has kept me very busy since it was published. I am doing more presentations and writing a blog about seniors aging safely.
I also exercise a lot – year-round, walking four to six kilometres a week. I also spend a lot of time fixing things around my house and working in my garden. I’ve had the nicest produce since I retired; the weeds are not gaining on me. I also travelled a bit before the pandemic and am looking forward to doing more of that in the months and years ahead.
My advice to others considering retiring is to plan for it well in advance, at least three or four years ahead. Don’t wait until your last day of work to figure out what you will do the next day and for the next few years. Also, golf is not the answer. You can’t play golf 365 days a year. Even if you could, it would become tedious. It’s important to have other hobbies and interests. I think women are better at this than men, so men may need to work harder at it.
As told to Brenda Bouw
This interview has been edited and condensed.