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Masters of their own time? Working carers' visions of retirement

Retirement is often seen as a period dedicated to the enjoyment of one’s own leisure interests after many years of gainful employment. On the other hand, retired people are expected to remain productive by continuing to work, volunteering or by being involved in various caring tasks. When do Finnish working carers plan to retire and how do they envisage the weight of their care commitments related to other activities once they have left full-time work? The 19 female interviewees were born in 1953 or earlier, and they helped their parent(s). They were working full-time or part-time or were semi-retired at the time of the interview. The interviewees were selected from a larger sample of working carers. The future prospects of the interviewees are given in terms of their different visions of retirement activities, and principles of qualitative analysis are applied. Some interviewees indicated that helping their parent(s) would be an essential part of their personal retirement activities, and some of them had chosen or were considering part-time retirement in order to have more time for their parents. However, the interviewees often also stressed that they wanted to have time to pursue their own personal work and leisure interests after leaving full-time employment. Persons approaching their own retirement want to be ‘productive’ but they also want to ensure that they retain a certain amount of individually defined ‘personal-time’. Leaving gainful employment does not necessarily mean leaving ‘productive roles’ as citizens. However, pensioners’ contributions as carers are socially and personally meaningful only if the pensioners’ different valuations regarding the future are respected.

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European Journal of Ageing

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