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Working towards successful retirement: older workers and retirees speaking about ageing, change and later life

Sheila J. Gewolb (Centre for Language and Communication Research, ENCAP, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK)

Working with Older People

ISSN: 1366-3666

Article publication date: 9 March 2015




The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate how older workers and people who have already retired speak about ageing and change and their experience of retirement.


A qualitative study is described in which focus groups with older workers and semi-structured interviews with retired people were carried out. The recorded data were analysed using a linguistic approach (Discourse Analysis), which investigates in detail how people express their views and opinions and how their discourse might relate to societal attitudes towards ageing and retirement.


Many older people who were still at work were concerned that they would decline and become senile once they retired unless they could remain active in some way. This was confirmed by people who had already retired and who spoke about how keeping busy and active had resulted in successful retirement and ageing.

Research limitations/implications

Participants from four focus groups and five interview respondents represent only a small sample of older people who are still working or who are retired. This means that the results of this study cannot be extended to include all older workers and retired people.

Social implications

This study will help to raise awareness of the concerns of older workers who may be nearing retirement, and how keeping busy and active after leaving work is considered by retirees to be part of successful retirement and helping to combat decline.


A study of this nature which examines how older workers express their views about retirement using Discourse Analysis is original and may be used as a method for future research into other aspects of being older at work.



Gewolb, S.J. (2015), "Working towards successful retirement: older workers and retirees speaking about ageing, change and later life", Working with Older People, Vol. 19 No. 1, pp. 25-32.



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Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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