Retiring is a time to change jobs.

As my children grow older and I am slowly reaching 50, I have been thinking and planning my retirement. And doing the research on what kind of life-style I want to live after 60 and how much money I need to fund that life-style. One thing that I have decided is that I may not be able do everything but I think most likly I will continue with what I eat except that less meat and more fish in my diet. And I have decided that health will be an important factor to consider after 60. Hence making plans to where you want to reside will have to factor in the general social determinants of health and availability and accessibility of health services in the geographical location of where you plan to retire to.

In Papua New Guinea, when someone retires from a job, they make plans to move back to their villages and live a semi-subsistence way of life or live in the many squatter settlements located in the fridges of urban PNG. Others use their retirement entitlements to start a new business to continue earning an income and live in the urban centers. Then there are others who simply change jobs. One thing is certain – we all will need adequate money to live after being retired.

My take on retirement is that while many consider retirement as a time to relax, reflect, travel or enjoy grandchildren and watch them grow, I think retirement should be considered a time when you change jobs. Many public servants in PNG or people that retire from the private sector after many years do not have enough money to sustain themselves beyond 60 years of age. As we age, we encounter more health problems and in a country like PNG where public health services are fragile and congested, accessing private primary health care can be expensive. Retirees do not have the money to pay for private primary healthcare.

So whether we like it or not, I think every person retiring in PNG should consider attaining new and additional skills so that you can continue to work. I do not think retirement equals stop work. No. On the contrary. I do not think I will have enough money to enjoy the same level of life-style I enjoy today when I am past 60. So I see myself continue to work until the day I meet my maker. Either I will have my own private practice or do consulting services or do part-time work but I do not see myself stop working past retirement age.

Working is good for the mind and body. Working keeps us positive, happy, reduces mental health – especially depression – when we are older. Working also contributes to the economy. So retirees are a vital part of any economy and in countries like PNG where unemployment is high, retirees are a good source of opportunities for employment creation.

To continue working past 60, investment in health must start now. The way I see it, if I invest in my health now (exercise, developing health habits, good nutrition etc), I will reap the benefits when I am past 60 where I will still be physically and mentally fit to continue working.

About rodney itaki

Medical doctor and public health specialist from Papua New Guinea.
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