It seems to be an unavoidable topic of aging these days: More people over the age of 65 continue to work. Whether it is full-time or part-time, the arc of working life for many Boomers is lengthening. Statistical research from numerous sources suggests that as much as one-third of the over-65 age group could be working in the next five years.
A recent article by John Hanc in The New York Times reports on some of the reasons older workers continue to work. In it, Hanc discusses Boomers who are 79, 75, 71, and 72, all of whom are still working and enjoying it.
Working longer works for any number of reasons. Jacquelyn B. James, co-director of the Center on Aging and Work at Boston College, tells Hanc, "This is one of the most educated generations in history. A lot of the jobs people are continuing in are fields in which you use the mind, not the body." She adds, "By the time you're in your 60s and 70s, you've probably worked yourself into something you enjoy doing. Others have been able to let go of things that they don't like about their job."
Michael D. Hurd, director of the RAND Corporation Center for the Study of Aging, thinks work is beneficial for older people. He tells Hanc, "You're forced to interact with people and forced to engage your brain. It's also good in terms of people's financial fitness. Just one year's salary keeps you from drawing down on your savings, and may even allow you to add to your savings."
An encouraging factor for older workers is a changing workplace. There are more part-time positions available, and there are more "gigs" -- work engagements that are essentially project-based. These types of work opportunities may involve being an independent contractor. The downside may be lack of benefits, but the upside is often a flexible work schedule and self-employment.
Boomers have been credited with generational change, and they have certainly changed the attitude toward retirement. Employers are slowly catching up to the "Booming" phenomenon of Boomers who want to work past the traditional retirement age of 65. The more Boomers who work into their later years, the more we are likely to reshape the way Americans think about work. Hopefully, this will also lead to a reduction in discrimination against older workers.
Image: Stuart Miles, freedigitalphotos.net