The Unretired Retiree
“THE SECRET IS KEEPING BUSY, AND LOVING WHAT YOU DO” ~ LIONEL HAMPTON
New age retirees are changing the narrative and living by their own rules. They are determined as ever to chase their passions and embrace the hustle.
These ‘unretirees’ have chosen to downsize as they continue working and generating income for themselves. They maintain dynamic lifestyles and keep themselves physically, mentally and socially active.
We were fortunate to chat with some inspiring individuals who continue to prove that age is no barrier and there is no limit to what we can do.
Graeme Robertson, GemLife Woodend (VIC)
It’s Good For Your Physical Health
Fitness is still a core part of Graeme Robertson’s life at 68.
The former AFL player moved into GemLife Woodend not long ago and he’s getting a kick out of it. He began his footy career back when he was 17 years old, playing for Carlton and then on to Richmond in the Victorian Football League.
For the past year, he has kept himself busy working full-time in security – supplying alarms and cameras for private homes and commercial premises. While he does plan to eventually cut back work to 2-3 days a week, he talks about the importance of phasing it out.
“It takes a long time to come down from working 5 days a week. You’ve got to bring it down gradually.”
Graeme shared that most of his father’s friends had no interests outside of work and they unfortunately passed on soon after they hit retirement.
“Even if you’re going to retire, you can’t not do anything. You have to keep your brain active.”
His athletic abilities haven’t waned with time and age. He loves to play golf and regularly uses the gym, swimming pool and sauna in the clubhouse. The safety and care of his home is something he never has to worry about when he travels through the country for work.
“The security is excellent and it’s just a really good and friendly community. People look out for each other. ”Graeme gushes about GemLife’s ‘‘stunning homes and unbelievable facilities.” He upsized from a 2-bedroom apartment to a 3-bedroom house with a garage and first-class amenities. “It’s ideal for the whole family to come up, and my 2 granddaughters enjoy having so much to do.”
Things are coming full circle for Graeme now that his first senior football coach is about to move into GemLife Woodend as well, “The world really is a very small place.”
Eunice Abrahams, Stockland Oak Grange Retirement Village (VIC)
The Groundbreaking Model
91-year-old Eunice Abrahams is a celebrity in her own right.
This beautiful senior model was discovered by a photographer when she was 78, and her modelling career has been going strong ever since. To this day she gets booked for photoshoots.
Working for 40 years as a children’s speech pathologist, she retired and moved from South Africa in 2007 after her husband passed away.
As soon as she saw Stockland Oak Grange, she knew this was where she wanted to be. “I love everything about it. It’s my home.”
Posing in front of the camera comes naturally to Eunice. She attributes her confidence to the speech and drama lessons she did in her youth. Her beauty routine consists of Lancôme moisturiser, a little bit of blush, lipstick, and some eyeshadow. She never missed out on getting her hair prepped from the salon. Eunice enjoys playing dress-up with the wardrobe options she’s given at shoots, “I’m called the hat lady, because I always must have a hat on me.”
To keep her body active, she goes for daily walks. She was introduced to line dancing a couple of years ago and loves trying fun ways to stay fit.
This tech-savvy grandma keeps in touch with her family overseas and even plays online bridge with them. “We’re lucky to be living in this age. It’s incredible how we can stay connected.”
Eunice keeps herself involved in activities at Stockland Oak Grange – one of which was organising a fundraiser for cancer. The community managed to raise more than they had anticipated, “There was a lot of
support from everybody. We all worked hard, and it was a success.”
Gardening is her happy place. She spends hours in her nursery tending to her plants, “I find it relaxing and rewarding.”
Her son is an accountant and for years she has been going to help him at his office. She independently hops onto the tram twice a week to get to the accounting practice in Melbourne’s CBD.
“I feel good that I am able to make myself useful. It gives me a reason to get up, get dressed and get going.”
Ivan Davis, Aveo Derwent Waters (TAS)
Politician with a Passion
Ivan Davis is empowered to live boldly and make the world a better place.
67-year-old Ivan and his wife moved into Aveo Derwent Waters when he was just 55. The couple spent the next decade working in China and the UK, knowing that they had a home that was secure and well-maintained to come back to whenever they wanted.
“Moving to Aveo gave us a platform to have adventures.”
Ivan joined the military as an apprentice musician and went on to have many other work experiences until he landed on politics, becoming a candidate for the Animal Justice Party. He has a genuine compassion for animals and the environment and speaks candidly about them.
“We don’t talk about the huge effect the animal agricultural businesses have on our environment. I’m not afraid, I will talk about it.” Ivan doesn’t just talk the talk; he walks the walk. He is currently organising a walk for the animals – which would be the length of Tasmania – for the upcoming federal elections. In the
last candidate race, Ivan participated in a day-long Ironman Triathlon that had pushed him to his limits.
When asked about his hobbies, he feels there’s no fine line. “My hobbies and job kind of mesh together.” One of which is cooking delicious vegan pizzas for him and his wife. His open-mindedness is refreshing. He hopes to lead by example and show people that we don’t have to be stuck in our ways.
“We can change, and we can keep learning. It just takes a little more effort.”
The electric car he purchased has not only made a positive impact on the environment, but to his bank account too. He is hoping he can make a bigger impact by running for senate and raising more awareness of the AJP.
When asked about his driving factor, he speaks fondly of his 1-year-old granddaughter and says he wants to do right by her.
“What sort of world are we leaving our children and grandchildren?”
Linda Radtke, Freshwater by Ingenia Lifestyle (QLD)
Reporting for Court Duty
Linda Radtke is full of spirit and looking forward to living her best life yet.
A newbie at Freshwater by Ingenia Lifestyle, working full time keeps her busy at 65. She has been a court reporter for 20 years and is privy to lots of interesting stories.
“I type for the courts in Sydney as they are happening.”
Moving to Ingenia was the best decision she made.“I came here and got a brand-new home at an affordable price. The people here are lovely, and I don’t have to worry about maintenance.”
She talks about struggling to pay down her mortgage on her previous home and urges others to move into communities like Ingenia. “I would have had to work till 83 till I got to own it. It’s ridiculous!”
She’s ready to move on and have a fresh new start outside of work, pursue her hobbies and see what’s in store for her. “I love reading, shopping and going to the movies. But working 5 days a week doesn’t leave me with much time.”
Her neighbours and friends at Ingenia keep active with clubhouse facilities, morning teas, outings, and social club meetings. She can’t wait to mingle with them and get more involved. “I will finally make it to the Friday 4pm Happy Hour!”
Her family are scattered all over the country, so they have regular catch-up sessions on Zoom to keep connected.
She would love to see more people in their 50s and 60s move into Ingenia and other communities and showcase how much easier their lives could be.
“I wish people knew how great it is. The possibilities are endless.”
May McPhail, TriCare Retirement Village (QLD)
An Unsung Teaching Hero
Age has never stopped May McPhail from going after what she wants.
After her children left home, she began a whole new journey and took on the arduous task of studying for her PHD in her 50s.
“It’s never too late.”
A former primary school teacher in New Zealand, May finally earned her PhD in Australian Foreign Policy in her 60s. She had her university studies interrupted when she had a family and there was a part of her that wished to accomplish it.
“I had always wanted to complete a proper research project. And I did it.”
May persevered and went on to be a well-known lecturer on Politics and Government at her alma mater, Griffith University.
When she turned 70, her husband’s heart condition deteriorated rapidly, and they moved into Tricare Retirement Village in Runaway Bay. The incredible support from Tricare allowed her to continue working till 78, with the knowledge that her husband was always cared for.
While her teaching days have ended, she’s on to the next chapter in her life. Giving back gives her a sense of purpose and she is determined to help those in need.
“What you give is what you get.”
Being a member of a Zonta Club – an international organisation that promotes women’s rights – May was able to get more involved in raising awareness and fundraising.
She makes regular visits to residents in the local nursing home – many of whom get few visitors. May is a writer as well. She has worked on a few biographies and is now writing her own autobiography. She also obtained her Pilot license years ago, which was a huge feat for women back then.
Along with her fellow residents, she started a group called the Podium Hour where they ask people in the village to come together and talk about their lives.
“People have led interesting lives. I learnt so many fantastic things about the people I live with.”
She enjoys bowling to keep herself physically fit and is a member of the bowling group at Tricare.
Her advice to other seniors is to keep themselves active.
“Do university courses, join clubs, get moving. Most of all, do what you enjoy.
Australian Over 50s Living & Lifestyle Guide