Does retirement mean waste of intellectual capital? This questions is important because around 1.5 billion people will be older than 65 in 2050. Some people think that the second innings are generally insipid and insecure. Some think, it is not so. One view is that the elders are patient and wise. The other view is that the minds of elders shut-down often at random. Research says that elders are better at regulating their emotions, they are better at understanding social conflicts, and they generally have more accumulated knowledge about the world. Research also says that the elders reason and process information more slowly, and also remember lesser new information. Perhaps elders possess better crystallized intelligence; a reflection on one’s knowledge base, what one knows, knows it well. Perhaps the younger lot have better grasp on fluid intelligence; a reflection on one’s capacity to learn and manipulate new information. It seems, if we define wisdom as manifestation of judicious use of knowledge, older people can be trusted in their second innings even if they lack or lose some qualities. Wisdom more than compensates the loss. The second innings is not only for fun, leisure and relaxation. One lives longer and healthier if one is engaged in some useful work.
Howard S. Friedman and Leslie R. Martin say that conscientiousness is a predictor of long life. They examined the data gathered of 1500 bright people from their childhood (around 10 years old) to old age. The study followed the lives of its subjects from various angles, such as family histories and relationships, teacher and parent ratings of personality, hobbies, job success, education levels, etc. Based on the analysis of the data, Friedman and Martin make some interesting observations. One of their observation is that long and satisfying marriage is good for both the partners. They say this is due to the fact that these are the people who were more stable as children and young people. The other observation is that optimists do not necessarily enjoy better health than pessimists. They point out a dark side of optimism, and that is, when the optimists are put in a tight spot, they feel defeated by the magnitude of struggle that is required. Friedman and Martin say that it was not the happiest and most relaxed older participants who lived the longest, but the ones who were most engaged in pursuing their goals. They say that the feeling of love and cared for are important for well-being, but not necessarily to live longer. To live longer one needs to develop social relationships and helping attitude. The groups you associate with often determine the type of person you become.