Resources for getting the most out of retirement


Looking at aging and retirement from a strictly biological or financial viewpoint could make anyone fearful. Thankfully there’s plenty of assistance available to help retirees see the bigger picture, from volunteer opportunities to spiritual guidance to inspirational films. Here are some resources that remind us of the greater questions.

On the web

Senior Adult Ministry

Dr. Richard Johnson, considered a top expert on aging and retirement, produces materials used by many parishes. Whether looking for individual resources or something to use in a group setting, Johnson’s website is the place to go.

A Satisfying Retirement
Author Bob Lowry’s website addresses all aspects of retirement.

Retirement—Only the Beginning

Planning for retirement beyond the financial.

The New Old Age

This New York Times blog focuses on the Baby Boom generation caring for their elderly parents, “an unprecedented generational challenge.”

Retirementally Challenged
A recent retiree blogs about her first year of moving from full-time career to being fully retired.

Volunteer opportunities

Beyond your parish, local Catholic Charities, and favorite nonprofits, here are some resources for retirees to donate their newfound free time:

Corporation for National & Community Service connects retirees with organizations that need help.

Global Volunteers, “the granddaddy of the volunteer movement,” offers programs for families and individuals, including seniors.

Habitat for Humanity, includes an “RV Care-A-Vanners” group of volunteers with RVs who participate in homebuilding projects throughout the United States.

The Ignatian Volunteer Corp has branches in many U.S. cities. The IVC offers prayer gatherings for volunteers and a chance to discuss what they’ve encountered.

The Peace Corps is now actively reaching out to retirees to volunteer. /

Retired & Senior Volunteer Program allows you to simply enter your zip code and interests to find opportunities near you.

Road Scholar offers service vacations, like helping with landscape preservation at Auschwitz or building a community center in Bolivia.

Books on retirement

Living with Purpose in a Worn-Out Body: Spiritual Encouragement for Older Adults (Upper Room, 2008) by Missy Buchanan

Aging Faithfully: 28 Days of Prayer (Upper Room, 2011) by Missy Buchanan

Shaping a Life of Significance for Retirement (Upper Room, 2010) by Jack Hansen and Jerry P. Haas

Creating a Successful Retirement: Finding Peace and Purpose (Liguori, 1999) by Richard Johnson, PhD

The 12 Keys to Spiritual Vitality: Powerful Lessons on Living Agelessly (Liguori, 1998) by Richard Johnson, PhD

Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life (Jossey-Bass, 2011) by Richard Rohr

Aging with Grace: What the Nun Study Teaches Us About Leading Longer, Healthier, and More Meaningful Lives (Bantam, 2002) by David Snowdon

Keeping Spiritual Balance as We Grow Older: More than 65 Creative Ways to Use Purpose, Prayer, and the Power of Spirit to Build a Meaningful Retirement (SkyLight Paths, 2004) by Molly Srode and Bernie Srode

Creating a Spiritual Retirement: A Guide to the Unseen Possibilities in Our Lives (SkyLight Paths, 2004) by Molly Srode

Films that offer reflections on retirement

Wild Strawberries, 1957. A bitter 78-year-old widower journeys towards self-discovery and peace in this Ingmar Bergman film.

Harry and Tonto, 1974. Retiree Harry (Art Carney) travels cross-country with his cat after his apartment is demolished to make way for a parking garage.

Going in Style, 1979. George Burns, Art Carney, and Lee Strasberg are three bored retirees who decide to rob a bank. Everyone needs purpose.

On Golden Pond, 1981. Henry Fonda and Katharine Hepburn play a couple near the end of their lives.

The Trip to Bountiful, 1985. Elderly Geraldine Page escapes her mean son to travel to her childhood home of Bountiful, making a new friend on the way.

The Last Good Time, 1994. An elderly violinist’s diminished life is interrupted—and enriched—by a relationship with a troubled young neighbor.

The Straight Story, 1999. David Lynch’s film is about an elderly man’s struggle to reach and reconcile with his brother before it’s too late.

Gran Torino, 2008. Clint Eastwood plays an alienated, retired auto worker who struggles to find his way to purpose.

Toy Story 3, 2010. Sure, they’re only toys, but they’re still being retired. Turns out toys need purpose too.

Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, 2011. The brilliant cast includes Judy Dench, Maggie Smith, and Bill Nighy playing Brit retirees who retire in India.

This is a web-only sidebar that accompanies the article “Finding the good life in retirement” which appeared in the August 2014 issue of U.S. Catholic (Vol. 79, No. 8, pages 12-17).

Image: Flickr photo cc by krossbow

About the author

Kristen Hannum

Kristen Hannum is a freelance journalist based in Denver, Colorado.

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