You’re 65 or older and still going to work every day? Congratulations – you’re part of a growing club. According to this article just published in USA Today, more Americans in your age group are working today than at any time since John F. Kennedy was President more than 55 years ago. As USA Today puts it, “Retire by your mid-60s? How 1960’s.”
Last month, says USA Today, more than 19 percent of American adults 65 and older were still punching the time clock, figuratively speaking, and going to work. That’s according to data just released by the U.S. government. That’s the highest percentage of seniors working since 1962, according to the report. Back in 1985, the number of 65-plus men and women in the U.S. actively employed reached its modern-day low point at just 10 percent, and it has been on the rise ever since, so labor experts predict those of you seniors still heading out to the workplace on a regular basis will continue having plenty of company.
Overall we at AgingOptions tend to think is a good thing, since studies repeatedly show how adults of retirement age generally stay healthier, mentally and physically, if they can keep on being actively employed. Recently we published this article on our AgingOptions Blog touting the benefits of what experts call a “phased retirement.” The old idea of hanging up your tool belt or briefcase at 65 and then sitting around all day is generally a thing of the past. However, our philosophy revolves around senior adults being empowered to make decisions that work best for them, not for someone else, so this statistic about men and women age 65 and older staying actively employed is something of a mixed bag.
Our concern is stated well in the USA Today article which says, “As America grows older and as life expectancy gets longer, some workers keep heading to the office because they like it and still feel engaged. But many others are continuing to work for a simpler, darker reason: they can’t afford not to.” According to data from the Employee Benefit Research Institute, more than 25 percent of those 55 and older report having saved less than $10,000 in retirement plans, savings and investments. For that reason, one-third of folks in that age group expect to retire at age 70 or older, if they ever retire at all. This sounds less like a choice and more like an emotional burden and a financial trap.
Ironically, on paper things are looking pretty good for senior workers these days, the USA Today article suggests, with an official unemployment rate for workers 65 and older of less than 4 percent. But we suspect that figure hides the grim reality that many seniors may have given up looking for work after months or years of discouraging rejection. “Older workers still heading for jobs may be the lucky ones,” says USA Today, with a growing number of seniors reporting that they want to work but can’t get hired by employers who want younger (and often lower-paid) employees.
It’s also frustrating to see that many of the retraining programs and other job-related education initiatives put in place by government and private industry to help workers qualify for new types of work are passing seniors by. A few years ago the Washington Post published this article on seniors and unemployment which included a grim assessment. “The remedies for unemployment among older workers are different from the things that help younger workers: While vocational programs and access to higher education are seen as the ticket to a better job for those just starting out, those who’ve already spent decades in the workforce have less to gain from a training course that will only benefit them for the few years it takes to get to retirement. That’s why avoiding job loss in the first place is so important.”
In short, we can’t overemphasize the importance of planning and preparation. The best way for most of you to protect your assets in retirement and avoid becoming a burden to those you love is to start now to build a retirement plan that will allow you – within reason – to live as you wish, working or not, with your health care needs covered, your housing choices carefully planned out, and your family fully supportive of your wishes. Perhaps it’s time for you to take a fresh look at what “retirement” will look like for you. Here at AgingOptions, we can offer you a brand new perspective on this dynamic and exciting time of life. No matter what the retirement journey looks like for you, you’ll need both a good map and a qualified guide to get you where you want to go. That “map” is a type of retirement plan we call a LifePlan.
Unlike other forms of piecemeal “planning,” an AgingOptions LifePlan takes all the critical facets of retirement into account: financial security, housing options, legal preparation, health care needs and family communication. Your LifePlan is the best method we’ve ever discovered to help turn your retirement hopes and dreams into reality. Your first step on the road to discovering a new approach to retirement is a simple one: plan to attend one of our free LifePlanning Seminars. These information-packed sessions will open your eyes to a world of possibilities while answering many of your questions about practical issues related to retirement planning. Click here to go directly to our Upcoming Events page where you’ll find dates, times and online registration. It will be our pleasure to meet you at a LifePlanning Seminar soon! Meanwhile, as we say at AgingOptions, “Age On!”
(originally reported at www.usatoday.com)