Retirement: What will you do? A narrative inquiry of occupation-based planning for retirement: Implications for practice


  • Alana Hewitt BOT (Hons)/BErgo, AccOT; Occupational Therapist. Linsey Howie PhD, MA, DipOT, AccOT; Deputy Dean Faculty of Health Sciences, Associate Professor and Head, School of Occupational Therapy. Susan Feldman PhD; Senior Research Fellow.

Linsey Howie, Faculty of Health Sciences, School of Occupational Therapy, La Trobe University, Vic. 3086, Australia. Email:


Aim: To examine, using a retrospective narrative study, the factors influencing four older people’s decision to plan for the activities they would undertake once retired, the planning process undertaken and their subsequent experience of retirement.

Method: Semi-structured interviews were conducted to examine the factors influencing older people’s decision to commence pre-retirement planning, the planning process undertaken and their experience of retirement. In keeping with narrative inquiry, paradigmatic-type narrative analysis led to the development of categories and subsequent themes to reveal the participants’ experiences of these issues.

Results: Three themes: environmental influences, the planning process and retirement experiences: the outcome of planning, were derived from the participants’ narratives. Overall, retirement activities that were continued or initiated led to a positive experience even when these planned activities were temporarily interrupted or altered. Planning for future years in retirement and older age also continued.

Conclusion: Occupational therapists have a unique understanding of the centrality of occupation to health and wellbeing. Thus occupational therapists are well-positioned to assist people identify, plan and engage in meaningful occupations outside work in retirement.