The transition to retirement: A narrative inquiry
The aim of the study was “To explore how people experience the transition to retirement” and the research question was “How do people experience the transition to retirement”. The literature review aimed to identify and critically explore relevant research, in relation to peoples’ experiences of the transition to retirement and ten studies were included. The following five themes were generated and discussed: paradoxical issues, change, occupation, ways of transitioning to retirement and challenges in the transition to retirement. Links were made to occupational adaptation theory. Many of the studies were dated and the gap for further research exploring experiences of the transition to retirement was identified. The methodology and methods were theoretically underpinned by an ontology of relativism, epistemologies of interpretivism, social constructionism and constructivism and a methodology of narrative inquiry. A convenience sample of seven recently retired individuals and financial advisors (providers of pre-retirement courses) was interviewed, using narrative interviewing, and the interviews were analysed using narrative analysis. The findings showed that four overall themes emerged from fourteen shared plots. These were “planning retirement”, “how and when I transitioned to retirement”, “experiencing early retirement” and “what I do in early retirement”. The findings demonstrated that there was agreement with previous studies regarding staying healthy, freedom, occupational balance and engaging occupations. New findings emerged in relation to positive experiences, loss, freedom, family relationships and caring in the transition to retirement. The findings were related to, and interpreted using, occupational adaptation theory and the concepts of occupational identity and engaging occupations. This offered insight into potential occupational challenges, as well as ways of acknowledging, facing, changing or selecting occupations, in the transition to retirement. In conclusion, occupational adaptation theory, along with an understanding of engaging occupations and occupational identity, was found to facilitate and underpin the occupational transition to retirement. This new knowledge can be applied to practice with individuals, groups or communities preparing for, or transitioning into, retirement, when anticipated changes in occupations could be identified and explored. The implications of this work are that by using the theory of occupational adaptation, occupational identity and engaging occupations, potential occupational challenges in the transition to retirement can be identified and resolved.