Many give retirement a try, only to find they’re bored, restless, and worried about their retirement nest egg not being enough. Which is why many go back to work. Either starting up their own business or seeking out positions they thought about when they were younger, but never had the chance.
The extra income is welcome, but the real appeal lies in the work itself. Since there is no longer the stress of having a career position, older retirees choose jobs close to home doing things they love – like working with volunteers, with children, in education, for their city, and the list goes on.
According to AARP, it’s the hottest demographic in the labor market: men and women working not only past traditional retirement age but into their 70s, 80s and sometimes beyond. Over the coming decade, they'll be the fastest-growing segment of the workforce, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Among 65- to 74-year-olds, labor force participation is predicted to hit 32 percent by 2022, up from 20 percent in 2002. At age 75 and up, the rate will jump from 5 percent in 2002 to 11 percent in 2022. Meanwhile, participation rates among younger age groups will be flat or will even fall.
"The number of workers over age 75 who work is still a small phenomenon as a percentage of the population, but it's definitely trending upward," says Sara Rix, senior strategic policy adviser with the AARP Public Policy Institute and an expert on older workers. "It might accelerate if people were able to make midlife career changes more easily. Who wants to do the same thing for 20 more years that they've been doing for a long time? Many people now working into their late 70s and 80s have careers with a lot of variety that helps keep work interesting and enjoyable."
Rising levels of educational attainment are fueling the trend, says Gary Burtless, an economist with the Brookings Institution. In 1985, only 15 percent of men between 60 and 74 had a college degree; in 2011, 32 percent did. The figures for women lag but are following the same general trajectory. To a striking degree, working after retirement age tends to be the province of a high-status, well-educated subset of the population: 61 percent of those ages 62 to 74 who were working in 2009 held doctorates or professional degrees, compared with just 28 percent of those whose educations stopped after high school.
Certain professions are notably friendly to their older practitioners, for several reasons. White-collar professionals in fields such as the arts, medicine, law, education or business are not only spared the physical toll of blue-collar labor, they also often receive formal or informal job protections, such as the tenure system in academe.
Pure financial need is clearly a factor, too: Workers can delay filing for Social Security, save more for retirement and spend fewer years depleting those savings to fund living expenses. Seventy percent of experienced workers say they plan to work in retirement, whether full or part time, and 35 percent of those ages 65 to 74 cite the extra income as the biggest reason why. "Working a few more years and delaying Social Security until you're 70 can make the difference in retirement between cat food and sirloin," says financial planner Harold Evensky, who maintains an active role managing his firm in his 70s.
However, most seniors still working say job enjoyment is the single most important reason they still work. For women in their late 60s and beyond, there's another dimension to the trend, argues Elizabeth Fideler, a research fellow at the Sloan Center on Aging & Work at Boston College and author of Women Still at Work: Professionals Over Sixty and On the Job. They came of age before the women's movement and didn't have as many professional options.
"It took a lot of drive and determination to get started, and for many it wasn't really their dream career," she says. "Some of them got started as teachers, social workers, secretaries or nurses but always wanted to do something else. Many of these women eventually realized their dreams — and now they are at the top of their games in their 60s, 70s or beyond. It's quite an accomplishment, and a lot of them are reluctant to give that up."
Plenty of men are just as reluctant to leave careers behind at this stage. Bruce Chabner, M.D., is a top cancer researcher — and after 45+ years in the field, he finds that the intellectual challenge continues to drive him. "It's a very exciting time of astonishing change," he says. "The field of cancer research is exploding with new ideas."
That sense of purpose is a cornerstone of psychological well-being, especially for older adults, says Dorian Mintzer, 69, a Boston-based retirement transition coach and psychologist. "People need to think about this before retirement: How does work give you that sense of connection and engagement, and how will you get it after you retire? It could be from volunteering, spending time with your grandchildren or writing your memoirs — anything that engages you and gives you that sense of purpose.”
However, if you are still working after 65, it does not mean you should ignore or put off your retirement planning!
There will come a time when you will be ready, at which time you will want to have everything in place so that you can kick back and enjoy. It’s never too soon to start planning! Here at Tacoma Elder Care we have you covered for all aspects of retirement planning, but the first and most important piece is to get your legal documents in place.
We encourage you to join us for one of our FREE Workshops or call to schedule a FREE consultation with Bob Michaels.
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