Take it from an expert

Prabha Chawla

Take it from an expert: Prabha Chawla

What can you expect from life after retirement? To find out, we spoke to Prabha Chawla about her retirement experience, pension and life in Vancouver.

Prabha retired in 2012. Lives in Vancouver, BC.

What was your career and when did you retire?

I was a community health nurse. I retired in 2012 when the organization I worked for was changing. They offered me retirement and I took it. I had worked for 16 hours a day while raising my children.

What was the most important part of preparing for your retirement?

Planning ahead! Retirement isn’t easy if you try to plan at the last minute. Keep in mind you might need help. It is important to seek guidance and do a lot of research to get good information. Don’t think you know it all! Be aware of when you can retire and what you can get. If you’re prepared for retirement, there’s no limit to what you can do.

What advice do you have for people who have just retired?

First thing, realize your life will be very different. This is the time to do what you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t had time for. It is important to stay physically and mentally healthy. Don’t look back and question what you’ve done; you did your best.

Is retirement what you expected it to be?

I thought I wouldn’t want to work anymore but I needed purpose to get up in the morning and to feel valued. You have to be prepared to be uncomfortable with all the time you suddenly have.

What does an average day look like for you now?

My life looks nice. I volunteer three times a week in the standardized clinical skill program at the hospital helping students. I like to get dressed up, go out and meet new people to learn from them. I have lots of friends and social interactions. I also took to painting. And I take courses to stay interested in learning.

Did you return to paid work after retiring?

After I retired, I worked as an on-call nurse. I did not always feel financially secure. After retiring, I would spend six months in India and six months here working. I really enjoyed working. My children have done well and I am now fully retired.

What are your plans for the future?

I look forward to spending even more time with my daughter and my grandchildren. I stopped driving to encourage more walking. I would like to take another trip to India where my roots are. I will continue to volunteer; it is my way of saying thank you to Canada.

Smiling woman sitting in sunroom, reading tablet

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