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Everyday Ageism

Are you "keeping busy?"

(44 Posts)
echt Tue 26-Apr-22 01:03:06

This does my head in. I retired last year (67), and have so frequently been asked this, as a starter question, as if there's a gaping chasm in my life. hmm Always said by a working person, never a retired one.

I now say, with some asperity: I'm not "keeping busy", I have lots of things to do.

grandtanteJE65 Wed 27-Apr-22 13:12:50

I think this question is asked for many reasons.

Those who love their job cannot visualize ever wanting to retire, so they may be genuinely concerned for us.

Others, those approaching retirement age, are either apprehensive about what it will be like, or envious, as they are finding that they tire more easily.

For those caught in the trap of retirement age being put up and up, resentment can easily creep in.

I myself retired at 68, having originally been promised retirement at 65 then at 67, then a couple of years before reaching that goal, I was told I would have to continue working until 68. DH being 4 years younger has had the goal-posts moved even farther and more frequently.

This is definitely not fair.

Another thing is that our parents' generation may have looked forward to retirement, but probably would have been ashamed to admit that the thought of not working was appealing.

I think it is important not to allow a question that may just have been meant as a conversational gambit to annoy us.

If it does, an answer along the lines of "I don't know what you mean. I am no less busy than at any time since I grew up. I just do different things now than while I was in a paid position." should make your opinion clear.

Soozikinzi Wed 27-Apr-22 13:15:57

I think its just an interested expression . But as others have said we've all worked hard for this retirement I had 5 sons and a SS and taught fulltime throughout only having 4 months off with each . There wasnt much maternity leave , flexibility or ecen part time work then .The nicest comment when I retired was actually from my DSis , and we' re not close at all , she just said well you've definitely earned it !

Saggi Wed 27-Apr-22 13:18:17

I retired 3 years ago and have been asked this question many times…. So I give a run down of my retirement
Disabled husband and I am his full time carer and have been for 26 years … mostly while working full time! I’m also insomniac and drift off to sleep about 2.30 a.m. …. am up when my husband stirs …his day starts at 7 ish….I’ve woken 2/3 times during my getting to sleep and him waking. I estimate my sleep is 3-3.5 hours per night! I have to get him showered and dressed and breakfasted …this takes approx 2 hours…. then I shop a little …. then I’m home to get his lunch …. I tend to do a little housework in afternoon for about 1 hour….I do 1-2 wash loads per day( incontinence)…. and I DONT iron ( I was called a slut for that from a friend)!!! I prepare dinner for 6p.m and wash up and clear up kitchen! I watch tv with husband until about 8 pm when he has to have football on ( most nights) . He’s stone deaf so the tv is astonishingly loud so I have to go upstairs out if it’s way! I come down at about 9:30 to put his eye drops in as he refuses to do it! I then go back upstairs . He watches tv until about 1 a.m. as his mind going and cannot be reasoned with to go to bed so I can sleep! I have to stay awake because he’s not to be trusted as when he’s tired his mind plays up. His head hits pillow after I’ve put him to bed and he snores till 7…. yes …I say when asked if ‘I’m keeping busy’ .They never ask again.

Alioop Wed 27-Apr-22 14:01:43

Another question I get asked is 'do you not get bored now your not working', no, I don't!

katy1950 Wed 27-Apr-22 14:51:39

Oppsadaisy I don't feel lucky at all I've earned the right to a pension I've work from the age of 15 to 68

nipsmum Wed 27-Apr-22 15:01:03

Yes I do keep busy. I worked from I was 15 until I was 68 now I do what I like.

Grammaretto Wed 27-Apr-22 15:37:20

I would be annoyed by it too!
It just sounds patronising, however well intended. A bit like the insensitive things which are said to widows (and widowers)
Such as: I know exactly how you feel, or He's in a better place, or you'll get over it...

I am probably insensitive too. People do seem to have a lot of holidays IMO. What are they escaping from?
Can they really want to visit all those far flung places?

I'm an artist so will never retire but my energy levels are very different from what they once were. I used to teach but have cut that right back.
I am trying to keep healthy so I won't be a burden on my DC.
So maybe what I could say to you if I were your annoying friend is: You are looking well, you must be keeping fit! grin


Dcba Wed 27-Apr-22 15:39:07

I’m just about to be 80 and feel happy and content to be retired and enjoying life. Maybe luck does come into the equation, raising a family but after working full time for 33 years when the youngest was in school. I always paid into a company pension and always trying to put a little something from my paycheques into a savings account. All this….and the fact I have kept healthy and active all my life has paid such dividends in having the opportunity to really enjoy my retirement.,

Patricia59 Wed 27-Apr-22 15:41:41

I don’t feel the need to be constantly busy. I like the freedom of being able to do what I want when I want. I consider it a luxury not to be woken by an alarm 5 days a week.

Mine Wed 27-Apr-22 16:30:21

I say....Retired and living life at my own pace....Its magic...

Farzanah Wed 27-Apr-22 17:17:41

Why do people expect you be “doing things” when you retire. After a long working life, I do feel lucky to be fit enough to enjoy retirement, but feel no compulsion to be busy all the time.
When I was leaving work I was constantly asked what I would do to fill the time, and I replied that I would lie in bed watching daytime TV.
There’s no more value to a time spent at work than at home reading a book, or just sitting and thinking.

jerseygirl Wed 27-Apr-22 19:30:39

I love being retired. I get up when i want, more or less do what i want when i want, I can spend time with my grandson after school. When my children were small i sometimes didn't see them at mealtimes because of work. I don't understand people who don't want to retire and want to carry on working. Why ? The tax you must pay is ridiculous. I worked hard from leaving school at 15. I've brought up a family and i think i have earned my retirement so i am going to enjoy it.

Lauren59 Wed 27-Apr-22 20:57:44

I don’t want to stay busy! After working nearly fifty years and raising three children, I like having few obligations.

AreWeThereYet Wed 27-Apr-22 21:22:11

It's just a way of asking what you are getting up to without being nosy and saying outright 'so what are you doing with yourself?' or 'are you enjoying your retirement?' Maybe not the best way of putting it but we're not all perfect.

Likewise the 'are you going somewhere nice for your holidays' - it's a really stupid thing to ask as who's going to go somewhere that they think is horrible - but I know I've said it in the past.

It's really hard trying to be friendly these days with people you don't really know well - if you ask questions you're being nosy and wanting to know everyone's business. If you don't ask questions you're only interested in yourself and no interest in anyone else. If you don't phrase your question exactly the way that person finds acceptable you'll find a thread about it on GN.

mumstheword86 Thu 28-Apr-22 11:51:15

It taken me time to adjust to my enforced retirement but hey Ho I am still making lists so that I keep myself busy I loved my job in a university library but due to the pandemic work changed for all my colleagues and it sounded so boring no students to talk to and help no books to shelve just online work and online courses Definitely not my idea of a job so think it was probably the best thing that happened even though I was sad along with 5 other colleagues who had the chop like me So I have my pension and can help out my three children and go places life’s good as I have reasonably good health
Just so sad for Ukraine and all affected I didn’t think I would see a world war in my life time like my parents lived through !!!

esgt1967 Fri 29-Apr-22 08:05:02

The Government doesn't force you to work until any age, it's just that the State Pension Age is a certain age (will be 67 for me) so if you want to stop work before this you will need to make some personal provision or possibly downsize to release equity.

mumx5 Fri 29-Apr-22 10:30:29


If people ask me anything, it is usually, 'Are you enjoying your retirement?' to which I reply,' Yes!'But I fought to stay on until 65 and was glad that I did.

Could you say a bit more on why you had to fight to stay on until 65 and why you are glad you did? Thank you!

M0nica Sat 30-Apr-22 19:40:25

mumstheword Something similar happened to me. My career was on a roll, but the company had to downsize drastically. They had a good redundancy scheme, so I went.

Sometimes one has to decide between what you want to do and what is in your best interest. I was in my mid 50s. I had intended to work until I was 65, but the redundancy scheme on offer was generous and for a limited time and the uncertainty of what would happen if I didn't take it, too worrying, so I went.

I have never regretted it.I was in a better situation to you in that the redundancy package included a retraining grant and I went back to university for a year to do an MA, so hardly had I left work and donated all my work clothes to a charity shop, but I was up and away Monday-Friday studying hard.