According to a recent study (Santini et al., 2016), older people in the cusp of retirement are concerned about their future and are often worried to jump in the unknown. They may be worried that retirement means inactivity and social exclusion and that they would become a burden for youngster family members (e.g. children) and for the society. In particular, the fear of getting ill and the health gets worst is fairly common: “I’m worried about my health because retirement means being old and starting another phase of life. You often hear of people just retired who have a heart attack or a stroke!!” (Quotation from the EWL study. ID32, female, 59).
Uncertainty and fear for the future can block the actions of those who are about to retire (in the medium-term). Thus, older workers during the transition from work to retirement need to be supported to enhance health and wellbeing during retirement. Especially training or education for a healthy lifestyle (e.g. by maintaining or increasing the level of physical activity, social participation and volunteering) showed a positive effect.
Life satisfaction after retirement is also related to the realization of individuals’ plans formulated in their specific social, cultural and economic contexts. Plans are culturally and gender sensitive. In “familistic” and traditional cultures, indeed, women are expected to play the role of caregivers for family members, such as grandchildren and frail older parents. Invoking gendered identities may be a way for managing the change over the transition from work to retirement, what helps women rather than men to renegotiate their role in family and society (Barnes & Perry, 2003) and what enhances their life satisfaction.
The main aim of AgeWell is to provide an avatar and robot (physically embodied device) based virtual coach for older employees supporting them through their transformation to retirement and support companies to keep their employees for longer time motivated to share their knowledge and experience after the retirement. AgeWell helps employees and employers to work well cross-generationally. End-users will be involved in the project from the beginning following a user-centric approach and will be recruited by the help of end-user organizations and larger companies. Since AgeWell follows a holistic approach by providing guidance when the user ages and needs assistance, a second end-user group involving seniors in retirement will simulate this later phase of AgeWell usage in the trials.