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Claudie D.

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by Maryvonne F.

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At the time

 

Claudie’s childhood and adolescence (64 years old)

Born in Brest in 1954, eldest of 3 children, her father is a French marine officer and her mother a housewife. For 10 years, they travelled around in different countries, including 3 years in Senegal. Claudie was 5 years old. True change of scenery and slight discomfort when faced with scenes of death and misery (lepers in the street…)

She had a happy childhood, but became quickly aware of social differences, especially with the neighbourhood children Claudie returned to Brest at 10, where she studied until the end of high school. She then went to college in Quimper: she realized farmers’ children studying there have a scholarship, and have less financial restrictions than her – being a family of 3 students. It was really important for her to get a degree that would get her a job. After seeing 2 of her aunts widowed, with 3 kids each, without any education or work experience, working small jobs and struggling to make ends meet, she wanted to study “something that would shape her into a working woman”. It was a family leitmotiv: girls had to get an education and never stop working. Indeed, they “shouldn’t leave too far from home”, even though mobility wasn’t an issue in the family. Information and job opportunities for young graduates wasn’t as easily accessible as it is today.

 

Adulthood (until retirement)

She graduated with a bachelor’s degree at 20 years old, and joined the Printemps Group in Paris.She evolved quickly, moved from store to store in provinces, and became Printemps Store Manager in Rennes at 25 years old.

She married at 29, became associate director of an interior design store, which she fully took over 15 years later – and until she retired in 2018.

 

Point of view regarding the elderly during her childhood

When she returned to France at 10, she lived close to her mother’s parents (her grandfather  was a farmer and her grandmother a baker), as well as her father’s parents (both of them  retired Marines from Brest). “My brothers and sisters and I were very close to them, we always went to their house.”

 

Intergenerational relationships within your family

The bonds within the family have always been strong. The grandparents died when they were quite old, but remained quite autonomous, with a little help from their wn children. Claudie’s 90-year-old mother stopped driving of her own will last year, and lives close to her other daughter. They have frequent extended family gatherings, where they’re able to catch up on one another’s lives. It’s very important for all generations.

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Nowadays

 

Compare what you thought of aging, what you expected of retirement with what you’re experiencing now.

Claudie just left a fascinating job, where she interacted with clients, as well as suppliers about fashion and aesthetics on a daily basis. Business trips, training courses and thorough management were needed for her business to bloom. What was most tiring were schedule commitments, delay restrictions as well as personnel management, which got tougher and tougher over the years.

Divorcee for 10 years, in a new couple for 3, she was eager to reach retirement: a world of holidays, time spent with friends and all sorts of sporting, cultural activities awaited.

 

Real life retirement

Due to her health, Claudie had to put certain projects on hold. But she really enjoys the FREEDOM retirement has offered her. No time nor professional constraints. Thanks to her material prosperity, she envisioned the first months of retirement as pure RESTING and nursing yourself back to HEALTH. Which isn’t really what happened.

 

Daily habits

The new couple life is based on a reconstituted family, and is going quite well. She always tried to shelter her girls from the ups and downs of her job, and was helped by someone she trusts. Claudie likes to see her 2 daughters more often, and is soon to be a grandmother. She gladly gives out a helping hand. She also has taken on responsibilities in the Club Service for a couple of years now. She’s focused on gradually balancing health, family, friends, hobbies, sports and her social life, all while remaining open to opportunities.
 

Médias

Subscription to daily and periodical newspaper.

Computer, tablet, TV and phone in the car. Use it moderately. 50% of her entourage refuse or distance themselves from these media.

 

What helps progress

Claudie is aware of fleetingness of life, how old people are portrayed in the media, hence wants to “age gracefully”. She wants to postpone the ageing slope and is inspired by people around her, whom she wants to become later.

 

The role of the retired

It’s important to stay active, to empathize with our environment, to live in the now, to stay  informed, communicate with the old and engage with the young about (your) history, and beyond.

 

Elderly representation in the media

New commercials for the elderly are appearing. Ageing population is put into the light.

New market for a share of the population who has purchasing power/ in need of care.

 

Message to the young generation

It’s important to move forward, to keep expanding our horizons. Need to move around in France but also in the rest of the world. You need to persevere facing family and professional difficulties.

 

Fight to find work and stick to it. Do not reject everything without knowing where you’re going. For instance, request a "contractual termination " and enjoy the social benefits: we will see what happens...