Taxi drivers in Singapore face mandatory retirement at 73 years of age. The aims of this thesis were to (1) explore the retirement experience of older taxi drivers, (2) develop a program to assist this subgroup of older people with retirement transition, the Driver Retirement Program (DRP) and (3) to evaluate the DRP in a pilot study.
Methodology and Study Findings
This research used a mixed methods design comprising of three phases.
The aim was to explore the range of retirement experiences and identify relevant lifestyle outcome measures for subsequent phases of the research. A prospective cohort investigation was conducted with retired (n =15) and retiring older taxi drivers (n = 8). Semi-structured interviews within a descriptive phenomenological approach were followed by quantitative measures of lifestyle outcomes.
Qualitative findings indicated four major themes: stories of taxi driving, feeling lost in retirement, contradictions of growing old in Singapore and needs in retirement (finances, social, meaningful activities). Retired drivers (n = 9) differed significantly from current drivers (n = 6) in terms of reductions with time spent at paid work (p=0.002), time away from home (p=0.028), use of transportation (p=0.044) and lower health related quality of life (SF-36 physical function, p=0.041; role physical, p=0.011; bodily pain, p=0.011; role emotional, p=0.041). Retired drivers had higher financial dependence on children (p=0.044) and, more time spent in solitary leisure (p=0.005) and instrumental ADL (p=0.008) activities than drivers. Participants could be grouped into a typology of high, emerging and low retirement need groups. Despite mandatory retirement being an expected event, participants were ill prepared for the retirement transition and there were indications for a program to assist with activity participation and well being during retirement transition.
The aim of phase two was to develop the DRP including review by an expert group. The DRP was developed from a synthesis of the findings of Phase one, reviews of existing retirement planning programs, and reference to relevant literature with a focus on health programs for men and adaptation for successful ageing. The DRP was a client-centred program comprising of a flexible modular system with individualised goal setting. It was structured as an intensive community program with a combination of individual and at least one group session, planned collaboratively between the client and health professional, to meet the expressed and assessed needs. The program would last between four to seven weekly sessions. After the process of development, the relevance of the DRP was piloted using an interview based survey with a reference group of experts from different perspectives including retired drivers, health professionals and management of a taxi driver company. Content analysis was conducted on the data and this information was used to modify the DRP for its acceptability, suitability and relevance to Singaporean taxi drivers facing retirement.
The final phase comprised of two studies. The planned pilot study of the DRP was an experimental single group, pre-post design with retired drivers (n=15). Data were collected at pre- and post- intervention and at three months follow-up. Participants demonstrated significant improvements in mood (p=0.015), self efficacy (p=0.007) and satisfaction with individualised goals (p=0.0006) which were maintained at follow-up. There were trends of participants spending reduced time in solitary leisure and more time away from home post-intervention. Although participants’ overall feedback was positive, there were also recommendations to improve the DRP
The second study in this phase was a prospective longitudinal study which was designed to enhance the findings of Phase one and further understand the retirement experience. Ten taxi drivers were recruited one month prior to retirement and completed all lifestyle measures at one month pre-retirement, and one month and three months post-retirement. Participants spent significantly more time in solitary leisure (p=0.006) and less time away from home (p=0.005) at one month post- retirement. Negative trends were also found in life space (p=0.046), satisfaction with time use (p=0.047), mood (p=0.038), perceived control for the most important role (p=0.037) and SF-36 bodily pain (p=0.047). At three months follow-up, there was a trend towards spontaneous adaptation with most measures showing a reversal of previous negative trends. Reduced time was spent on rest (p=0.047) and health care activities (p=0.042). In contrast, domain specific life satisfaction showed a significant decline from one month to three months post-retirement (p=0.025).
Conclusions and Recommendations
The retirement experience of older taxi drivers was complex, dominated more by retirement from work rather than driving cessation issues. The loss of the valued taxi driving role resulted in a key time of acute need. The DRP improved activity participation, well being and satisfaction with individualised goals at post-intervention and maintained these changes at three months follow-up. There is scope to explore the intervention of the DRP in future studies by targeting retired drivers within one month post-retirement with an extended follow-up.