Editor/writer Diana Althill of London made a tough decision last year, at the age of 91. She moved into what she calls “an old person’s home.” At first, she thought it would be dreadful, that she would miss the apartment which had been home for many years. But, to her great surprise, she has enjoyed the transition.
In an interview from an October 2010 article in the New York Times by Sarah Lyall, Althill shared “how liberating it is… not a single domestic worry do I have.” She also described how downsizing gave her a new perspective on the relationship to her personal belongings: “It’s as though ‘possessing’ has been distilled down from being a vague pleasure to being an intense one. Less is more.”
This giant of the London literary world, an editor who was known for handling difficult manuscripts and writers, retired at 75, but did not stop working. She pursued a second career as a writer, publishing three memoirs at the age of 80.
One of these books – “Somewhere Towards the End” – was published when Ms. Althill was 90. The book takes on some rather complicated issues in regards to growing old that most would prefer not to discuss or ponder: sex and dying. Despite its unflinching look at the truth about old age, the book won several awards and has inspired many to face the later years with hope.
Althill’s story is quite interesting, as many who transition from their own home into a senior living setting tend to feel they have lost their freedom rather than gained the liberation she describes. While the lack of domestic responsibilities is freeing for some, others may feel that they have diminished purpose, that these activities brought fulfillment, a sense of accomplishment rather than a sense of obligation or dread. Many seniors are choosing a second (or third, fourth, fifth) career after retirement, as Ms. Althill has done.
To read the full interview, click here.
Your turn: What do you look forward to about retirement? Starting a second career, or pursuing other ventures? Letting go of domestic worries, or embracing the luxury of more time to care for the home?