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Research Article  |   January 1997
Anticipating Retirement: The Formation of Narratives Concerning an Occupational Transition
Author Affiliations
  • Hans Jonsson, OT, is Associated Professor, Occupational Therapy Program, Stockholm University College of Health Sciences, Box 1821, S-171 24 Solna, Stockholm, Sweden, and Doctoral Candidate, Department of Clinical Neuroscience and Family Medicine, Division of Geriatric Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden
  • Gary Kielhofner, DrPH, OTR, FAOTA, is Professor and Head, Department of Occupational Therapy, College of Associated Health Professions, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, and Foreign Adjunct Professor, Department of Clinical Neuroscience and Family Medicine, Division of Geriatric Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden
  • Lena Borell, DrMedSc, OT, is Associated Professor, Occupational Therapy Program, Stockholm University College of Health Sciences, Stockholm, Sweden
Article Information
Geriatrics/Productive Aging / Research
Research Article   |   January 1997
Anticipating Retirement: The Formation of Narratives Concerning an Occupational Transition
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, January 1997, Vol. 51, 49-56. doi:10.5014/ajot.51.1.49
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, January 1997, Vol. 51, 49-56. doi:10.5014/ajot.51.1.49
Abstract

Objective. This study is the first part of a longitudinal investigation of the retirement process. This stage of the inquiry concerned how older persons anticipate their retirement.

Method. Thirty-two workers were randomly selected from all workers age 63 years in a suburb of Stockholm. They participated in semistructured interviews about their work and their expectations for retirement.

Results. The participants’ narratives illustrated the complex work of interpreting the past and expected meaning in one’s occupational life. The narratives, which anticipated widely different future trajectories, revealed many of the challenges and dilemmas of anticipating retirement and the close association of work experience to expectations for retirement. In particular, the narratives highlighted the participants’ concerns about maintaining the quality of experience in activity. The findings also demonstrate the process by which persons anticipate and make choices about life change.

Conclusions. People anticipate retirement through volitional narratives in which they link together past, present, and future. Understanding this volitional process of interpreting, anticipating, and making choices is important to understanding how people adapt to life changes.