Alan and Averil undertook a retirement course with the RPCI. Here they talk about what it meant to them. Alan worked with PermanentTSB for forty-two years before retiring in September 2019. Avril continues to work as a nurse and is considering her retirement options.
Alan, how did you feel about taking retirement? What was the impetus to do the RPCI course?
The impetus was to be organised and to know a little bit more about the opportunities that are available in this state of retirement. I don’t look on myself as being retired. I’ve just moved on to another phase of my life.
Avril, what about you?
Somebody had said to me the partner is entitled to go to the course. I felt it impacts on me. But I am also at retirement age. But I would think it would have been much better if we were doing it six months before Alan’s retirement. We did the course post his retirement.
How did you know about the RPCI?
Alan: I knew about them through an event in the RDS where they had a stand. That was maybe two or three years ago. It had put the RPCI in my mind. I knew that they were there. And that they provided some facilities for retirement, but I didn’t know the detail.
Avril: Somebody at work said to me, has Alan been placed on a retirement course? And you’re entitled to go to us as well. It’s very worthwhile. I nurse in the Mater, and I didn’t know the facility was there for nurses to go from the Mater. I have said it to quite a few of the staff around my age group.
Alan: I think it should be an automatic facility for somebody who’s about to retire. Or indeed, mandatory.
How long was the course?
Avril: Two days. We did the course at the beginning of September 2019 in the RPCI offices in the city centre. There were about sixteen other people on the course.
Which topics did you find most helpful?
Alan: I found all the topics very interesting, and those that stuck in my mind was the health one. As a man, I find it most unusual that I found the health talk given by a dietitian to be as good as it was. I liked the social welfare content, the taxation content and the enduring powers of attorney and wills. They really stuck out in my mind as being excellent and very pertinent.
Avril: I wouldn’t be so interested in the tax. It is terribly important, I know, but I generally leave that to Alan. I found the dietician superb and particularly as a nurse; I felt she was extremely relevant. You know, she did a little bit of everything. She recommended exercise. And she particularly recommended Pilates and yoga because of the stretching. Alan has since joined a Pilates class.
Was there anything you felt was missing from the course?
Alan: I felt that all the topics in the course were highly relevant. There was nothing there that should not have been there. I’d say that the emphasis on pension planning, investing of money. I had that all done; it was all completed, that door was closed.
Your identity in retirement and relationships. Do you feel each of those was covered in enough depth?
Alan: Well, I know my identity going forward. I won’t use the word retirement. I’m very happy with that, where I’m going and what I have to do. I found with regard to identity that the retirement workbook was excellent. It was quite challenging to fill in some of the items in this workbook, such as my Wheel of Life, current interests and hobbies, my personal goals. I had definite ideas. But there were a few blanks, some gaps in the future that I needed to fill, around hobbies etc.
Avril: I think in a marriage it’s important to always have your own friends, do your own thing. One of the men on the course, I don’t think his wife was there on the day. And he retired. And he said, he just thought she would be at home all day waiting for him. And he said well, maybe we’ll go here on Tuesday and she was saying, oh no, but I always play my Bridge on Tuesday morning. She had her week constructed doing different things. And it suddenly dawned on him that he had to do his thing, that she wouldn’t always be sitting there waiting for him. She had mapped out her life because she had been home before him.
Avril, do you feel that because you did the course with Alan that your thinking has changed?
Avril: To a certain extent, I have seen so many people retire. And then they either get dementia or their health suddenly fails. Alan is at home now. So, if we saw a cheap trip to somewhere next week, we could just go, the two of us. And when we have our health, we should grasp it and do these things. Before the course, I had thought I might work until 67. But since the course, I have revised my thinking. I probably will go at 65.
Alan, you spoke about hobbies, Pilates class and ECDL.
Alan: One of the best things I did was when I was 65, which is four months ago. I went to the Department of Social Protection because one is entitled to sign on for Job Seekers’ Allowance. I looked at all the courses that were available. One of the best courses was Jobs Club which runs for three weeks in the mornings. It was a wealth of information. I found out about doing First Aid Responder. I found out about lots of websites and facilities through the Department of Social Protection, where one could volunteer for activities. Indeed, the RPCI also provided that information. I found out about Obair. One perhaps might want to work part-time or work on a voluntary basis. It provided the information for all these doorways for the future.
Would you be actively interested in doing other work, even in a voluntary capacity?
Alan: Very much so. It’s a necessity, to be engaged in further activities, to get out and about and meet people. I feel that by giving, I will receive. Whether I’m paid for it or not.
You talked about friendships in work. How have those friendships changed?
Alan: Those friendships close in very quickly indeed. They are based on the work chat. So out of manners and a desire to keep some bond to the past, I do pursue them. But it is really a facet of one’s life that recedes into the past. One has to pursue activities outside the workplace.
Avril, do you see the work friendships as very important or less important?
The majority of my friends are actually from my training days. I have a very good work group. But I work in a unit and a lot of nurses come and go. And I’m now with quite a young group. I’m the Granny. I always sort of say I have three families. I have our family. We’re quite involved in the church. So, I have my church family, and I have my work family. To lose the work-family will be big. I first nursed and then I went into Aer Lingus. And I stayed there for sixteen years because when I had my three children, you could take unpaid leave in the winter. Then I got redundancy from Air Lingus, and I took ten years off when the boys were in secondary school. So, I’m not burnt out; many people who never leave nursing are burnt out.
What about the free lifetime support facility offered by the RPCI? Would you see yourself taking up that offer?
Alan: Yes. I don’t have any issues at the moment. But it’s very comforting to know that I had a specific issue, say social welfare, legal, taxation. But I would certainly use them as a port of call.
Avril: The RPCI also emphasised the importance of signing on for credits with social welfare. These are the little things, but they are very important around keeping your social welfare contributions topped up.
What’re the positive things about this period?
Alan: I think the positive things for me are looking at new opportunities, training. I’m probably reflecting my thinking that I am not retired. I’m reflecting on the new facet in my life looking, which is not sedentary.
What would you both like to be doing in two year’s time?
Avril: I would love to volunteer in the hospice. I would like spontaneity, heading off on a weekend. I’ve never had that freedom.
What single piece of advice would you give to others approaching retirement?
Alan: I would go, don’t think about the word retirement. One doesn’t want to leave work on a Friday and have very little in one’s life from the Monday morning onwards. You do have to prepare. I would look at the jobs club if you are on Job Seekers Allowance. And listen to the opportunities that one will be told about. They are not necessarily opportunities for work. It’s an activity. So, we’re trying to do is find activities which keep us engaged for the future. And because retirement is a terrible word. It’s just moving to another phase in your life.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Alan: I was interested in the other activities which the RPCI offers such as ancestry and genealogy. I’d like to pursue that. I think as one gets on in age; one becomes more interested in that topic. And I did tick that box at the end of the course.
Avril: I would love to have the time now, to take out family photographs, put names and dates and who is who. And do a family tree in photographs.
Established in 1974, the RPCI is a Registered Charity, a not for profit organisation, wholly independent of all financial institutions and with a voluntary board of directors. RPCI is based at 14/15 Lower Camden Street, Dublin 2 Ph: 01 478 9471 / www.rpc.ie Courses are held in Dublin and around the country on a very regular basis. Please check the website for more details.