Two out of three people who say they want this kind of retirement are secretly happy to do a bit of gardening and go for a walk in the countryside according to new research carried out by neuroscientist Jack Lewis.
Researchers tried to find out if people really did want to do the exciting things they professed to want to do. They measured peoples’ emotional state using a galvanic response test (which measures the resistance to electricity in your skin which is affected by moisture) a crude form of lie detector.
Two thirds of people tested showed no response to pictures of risky activities such as safaris, mountaineering, or sailing but got excited looking at tranquil pictures such as flower beds, baking and being at home.
Lewis thinks that people might not have realised that they had actually got beyond some of their retirement fantasies without realising it. The good news is that one third of those tested have not yet given up on having some excitement in their lives.
Th research was carried out on behalf of the Skipton Building Society as part of their DNA of Retirement Project and involved 1,500 people within 10 years of their retirement.
They were categorised as either “adventurers” who had retained a desire for adventure and thrill seeking and these comprised 20% of the people tested, “activity seekers” who said they would be active by walking or swimming when they retired, “comfort seekers” who longed for a slower pace of life, “knowledge seekers” who wanted to study or learn new skills, and “workers” who wanted to continue in work or in volunteering.
One thing almost all the people tested had in common was that they rejected traditional ideas of retirement and images such as “pipe and slippers” or descriptions such as the “Golden years“. And if the evidence on “silver splitters” is anything to go by some people are still looking for romance after retirement.
Lewis says his research has shown that the four activities that were most beneficial for keeping your mind alert and staving off dementia were dancing, playing chess, reading, and playing a musical instrument. Also sport of any kind was beneficial (as is maintaing an exercise routine) and volunteering kept people socially connected.
Some people advocate getting dementia sufferers to be more active and take more risks. Perhaps that would appeal to the adventurers in particular.
See previous posts on dementia here