It’s Time To Think The Bucket List After Retirement by Marc E. Agronin

This article reinforces stereotypes of seniors as soft, cuddly nurturers. Many people over 60 are childless. Many prefer to work for money rather than volunteer (especially for organizations that pay their executives handsomely, such as hospitals and nursing homes). Some just like to travel.

A geriatric psychiatrist should know better than to stereotype “older brains.” Some people take more risks as they get older; novelty-seeking is a personality trait. Having never been especially conscientious or maternal, I doubt that I’ll transform when I hit a magic number.

Here’s what he writes about his patient “Dora:”

“She and her husband spent several months and considerable treasure each year after retirement traveling to a bucket list of exotic locales, but found themselves feeling increasingly alienated from family and friends who did not share in their adventures. Their children complained that they seemed more interested in spending time with itinerant acquaintances than with their grandchildren. Several friends became reticent to invite them on weekend outings, fearing that any such plans paled in comparison with their many adventures.”

Gimme a break! Are the children looking for free babysitters? Do they want doting grandparents who will hover over their kids and interfere with their parenting? And she didn’t seem “depressed,” just perhaps a ¬†little lonely.

“Dora” should tell her children to find their own babysitters and playmates; when kids become teens, they won’t be eager to go on trips with grandparents. She speculates that her social rejections are related to her travels. Maybe she’s a nuisance to be around, ¬†her friends just don’t like older people, or she needs new friends.

I’d like to see how those studies measure “well-being.” I suspect the variance is huge.