Johannes Heuschkel and Mara Kroth of GoldenMe, a group that aims to make retirement more active and inclusive, are seen during an interview with Delano earlier this year
Johannes Heuschkel and Mara Kroth are helping retirees to get out there.
What happens when you retire? “You worked your whole life, but your friends from work, they disappear. It’s a fact,” Mara Kroth of GoldenMe told Delano in an interview earlier this year. “But you’re there, your kids are gone, you have money, you have time, if you’re lucky you have around 13 more years to live and to self-develop and to explore. And that’s kinda the thought behind” GoldenMe.
The group is “an active community for people aged 50 plus,” which aims to “tackle loneliness and social isolation,” she says. Although anyone 50 and up can participate, GoldenMe has a particular focus on those who are preparing for or have recently taken retirement.
Currently, they organise “GoldenMe events” such as a conference on mindfulness for seniors and a series of “smartphone cafés” where millennials answer tech questions, says the outfit’s Johannes Heuschkel. They also have a newsletter (in English) and a calendar on their website featuring events put on by other groups. In the future, they hope to add “GoldenMe groups” which will connect people around similar interests.
Kroth says the idea is to meet new people in an “open” environment. While retirement, and the loss of that social network, is difficult for everyone, “I think for expats it’s even harder than for Luxembourgish people,” who have family and community connections here. But expats should not feel intimidated by perceived nationality and language barriers: “I’d say if you want to do something, you can do it. In Luxembourg there are a lot of opportunities, but it’s about your own attitude.”
GoldenMe got started as a project at the University of Luxembourg Incubator, with Kroth’s team winning first prize at 2018 Ideation Camp startup competition. After that Kroth continued to develop the idea and asked Heuschkel, a fellow German psychology student at the university, to join.
Since then, they’ve picked up prizes from the Falling Walls Lab conference and Nyuko and the labour ministry’s Impuls programme, which has provided enough seed money to keep GoldenMe going till they graduate. The ultimate goal is to create a formal structure and work on the project full-time. Kroth and Heuschkel are also looking for more members to join and for financial donors.
While they are far from retirement themselves, GoldenMe did start by “conducting over 30 in-depth interviews with our target group” on topics from how they felt about retirement to their use of technology, says Heuschkel. Earlier this year, they were joined by their first volunteer, freshly retired herself at the age of 58.
That said, Kroth does have some advice for those getting ready to retire. “Once you’re retired, you don’t have a professional goal anymore. So the focus is more on yourself. And for some people that’s cool, because they do all the things they couldn’t do before, but some people get their total fulfilment at work. So once you’re retired, I would say just to try to figure what you want now, what is your goal for retirement, where do you see yourself in some years.”
Just as you did when you left school, ask yourself: “Who are you now? What do you want to do? What do you wish for? What do you not want, that’s really important. Then try to make a plan” to meet those personal objectives.
Heuschkel adds: “Ideally you ask yourself this question a year before you’re going to retire” and not when you’ve already stopped working. Otherwise you “risk falling into a rut”.