Chinese YMCA of Hong Kong


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Over 50% of Hong Kong Retirees Experience Stress After Retirement


Chinese YMCA survey reveals that “Eight Loss” seniors can fall into depression, but early retirement planning can enrich life after work


Most people believe that retirement is a kind of “post-work holiday” that is as sweet as a honeymoon. However, the truth is somewhat less rosy: a recent survey conducted by the Chinese YMCA of Hong Kong found that over 50 per cent of retirees experience anxiety and are perplexed by the pressures created by this significant life transition. In addition to these negative emotions, a smaller proportion of retirees are affected even more severely – they actively avoid the reality of their situation by renting office space and pretending to go to work every day. In the worst case scenario, individuals are unable to let go of their feelings of stress, fall into depression and become “Eight Loss” seniors.


The Chinese YMCA’s survey, called ”Stress Adaptation and Living Habits of Retirees”, was conducted between January and March of this year, yielding useable responses from 266 retirees. Over half of the respondents reported experiencing difficulties in adapting to their new lives during the initial phase of retirement. The reasons given for these difficulties included a decline in physical function (21.8%), feeling “out of touch with the times” (20.7%), having too much free time (17.7%) and a loss of identity and uncertainty about their role in society (14.7%).


If retired people fail to relieve their stress in a timely manner, this may trigger the so-called “Eight Loss” issues in their personal, family and social lives. The term “Eight Loss” refers to a cluster of “losses”: loss of emotions, loss of motivation, loss of interest, loss of sleep (insomnia), loss of a job-related identity, loss of family status, loss of private space and a loss of social resources.


Health issues were also explored in the survey, with 80 per cent of respondents  indicating that they suffered from various types of chronic illness in varying degrees, including back pain, articular gout, high blood pressure and other metabolic diseases.


The respondents were generally in agreement with the proposition that moderate exercise could ease their pain, reduce the risk of suffering from chronic diseases, reduce their stress and improve their quality of sleep.


However, the findings also revealed that the majority of respondents engaged in exercise only two or three times per week; and over 50 per cent exercised for less than 30 minutes per session, with the type of physical activity limited to walking and stretching. The survey revealed that 65 per cent of respondents performed an amount of physical activity far less than the amount recommended by both the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association – which for an adult is a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise five days per week.


Law Pui Kai Joseph, senior physiotherapist at the Chinese YMCA, suggests that retirees may wish to try the “357 Exercise Programme”, which involves a 30 minute workout performed five times a week, during which participants raise their heart rate to 70 per cent of its maximum level. Mr Law says that “while many retirees are engaged in tennis, golf, hiking and dancing for example; the repetitive motions involved when performing just one or two types of physical activity over the long term can put pressure on the shoulders, elbows, back, knees and ankles, and this may eventually lead to chronic pain.”


Media veteran Mr Lo Sai Cheong was invited to share his personal story at the press conference. Mr Lo has been retired since March 2015. He said that before his retired, he was very busy and could not find the time to properly plan for his retirement. Thus, he was not ready for this major life transition. During his working life, he played a pivotal role in his company and the media sector, and he was highly respected and valued by the peers. After retirement, when he would read media coverage of things like an album release or a concert press conference, he felt an indescribable sense of loss – being retired, he was no longer invited to these kinds of events; instead, he was now reading the news from the side-lines as a layperson.


It took Mr Lo six months to realize that retirees need to adjust their mentality – it is essential to “let go” of their workplace identity, actively implement exercise and travel plans, discover what makes their lives meaningful and enjoyable while continuing to serve society with their expertise, and figure out new life goals for themselves.


The Chinese YMCA is launching a new programme to address the issues raised by these survey results. The programme is comprised of a number of activities and events aimed at those preparing to retire and retirees themselves, help these people savour and enjoy the “second half“ of their lives, and avoid falling into the “Eight Loss” trap.

The programme features a series of nature adventure activities designed by social workers that will allow participants to move out of their comfort zones, reassess their lives and understand themselves by learning new skills. Through these activities, the programme will help participants physically, psychologically and emotionally prepare for retirement; allowing them to discover their interests, expand their social circles, maintain contact with the community and facilitate interaction and establish mutual trust with other retirees.


For more details on the programme, please visit: or call ‬‬2783 3615


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