May 25, 2019 | 04:31 AM


05.12.2013Bored With Retirement? Then Un-Retire And Go Back To Work

Boomers of many occupations and professions may decide to work after the usual retirement age.

Carolyn Rosenblatt, Forbes.com

When our aging parents retired from work, it was usually by or before age 65 and they were absolutely done with working. But our generation of 50 and 60 somethings is different.

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Boomers of many occupations and professions may decide to work after the usual retirement age.  It may be out of necessity.  It may be because we want something more than sitting around with too much time on our hands.  What is becoming clear in current research on our Boomer work lives is that we are not like our elderly parents. We are better educated in many instances.  We don’t consider ourselves “senior” even if we are in that age category. And we may not be satisfied with just leisure in our lives.

As long as we aren’t suffering from memory loss, dementia or other illnesses, Boomers are starting businesses, staying in the workplace or deciding on what gerontologists call their “encore careers”. Most of the encore careers are not as stressful, demanding or difficult as the careers Boomers had during the earlier part of our lives.  But as a generation, perhaps some of us feel more vital when we have the structure of work in our lives.  Many Boomer aged women, particularly, are also the primary caregivers for aging parents and they need flexibility to be able to meet those responsibilities.

A colleague, Bobbie, is a good example. She had a successful career in the nonprofit world.  Then, she got downsized out at age 61.  She thought, “OK, I’m ready to retire anyway”.  She did. And after a few weeks of twiddling her thumbs, being bored and restless, she was done with retirement. She started to look for a new job. That was a challenge because she knew she would face ageism.  It reared its ugly head immediately.  Bobbie is a fit, healthy and highly experienced person in her field.  She’s also had a couple of other careers in her younger days. So there were choices of where to apply for work.

She sent resumes to websites. She put the word out. She was ready to go back to what she had done in her 20′s. But then a lucky break happened and she got an interview in her favorite field of nonprofit management.  Bobbie at age 61 negotiating for her employment package was a very different person from the way she was when she was younger. She landed the job and got a load of perks to make it well worth taking. The organization wanted the wealth of her experience and she successfully asserted herself with confidence into a meaningful position where she is appreciated.

Successful retirement takes planning and so does the choice not to retire as we age. If you want to keep working, even if it means a different job after being let go, it can take considerable effort. Bobbie got a job that will not be overly stressful and she has congenial people around her. She will do some traveling for work, which she likes. She has fashioned a life for herself that allows for healthy aging. She has time to exercise, time to relax and time to pursue her social interests.  Most importantly, she wants the structure in her life of a job, the sense of community and the purpose of the new0 position.

I’m a big fan of all things about healthy aging as I’m pursuing it myself. The work I do at AgingParents.com focuses on advising Boomers with aging loved ones and also on how to age in a healthy way ourselves. This gives me purpose, life after a career in litigation and an identity as consultant after giving up the stressful job of a lawyer.  Having purpose in our lives is a feature of being emotionally healthy whether we are retired or not.

Likewise, we need structure, whether it comes from a job or from self-imposed structure we find in retirement through volunteerism or other pursuits we enjoy.  The sense of community Bobbie craved after sitting around isolated at home too much is one she’ll find at work. It can also be created by participating in any group, such as Rotary, Lions Club or other charitable organization that needs you.

Here’s to successful retirement if that feels right or to unretirement if you prefer that.  Can’t wait to hear about Bobbie’s new work adventures. They’re lucky to have a seasoned Boomer in their employ. And she is smart enough to know what she needs and to go out and find it.  My fellow Boomers, I wish you the same smarts.

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