Washington, DC - Retirement isn't what it used to be-a time for taking it easier in our old age and avoiding the stress and excitement of the workaday world. Maybe it's because we are living longer than ever before making retirement a pricey option. Then again, perhaps the miracles of modern medicine can make us more energetic in our sixties, seventies and eighties and more seniors find a sedentary lifestyle is just too boring.
The fact is, according to the Association of Mature American Citizens, more of us are opting for active, productive lives as we grow older. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the labor participation rate for men 65 to 69 years of age in 1994 was 26.8% and that by 2024 it will be 40%. As for women in the same age group, just 17.9% remained in the workforce in 1994 but by 2024 32.8% of them will still be employed.
AMAC president Dan Weber says that "while working past the traditional retirement age of 65 is a necessity for many seniors, it also provides psychological and emotional benefits. Research shows that many older workers say they like what they do for a living and that working makes them feel valued."
The Milken Institute Center for the Future of Aging put it this way in recent testimony provided to the U.S. Senate Committee on Aging: "A growing body of research suggests that purposeful aging, engagement, and working toward goals as we age, offer significant health benefits for older adults and solutions to an array of other societal challenges. It is well documented that purpose is important for longevity as well as vitality, productivity, and lower rates of cognitive decline, stroke, and heart attack."
Weber points out that older Americans are active these days and don't like the idea of giving up their careers. "Seventy is the new 50, but some seniors feel like they are 40 years old again. For one thing, people are not only living longer, they're living healthier, more active lives and so the concept of retirement has undergone a remarkable change."
Every day 10,000 people in the U.S. reach the age of 65 and it is worth noting that with the aid of modern medicine 25% of them will live past the age of 90.
"It boggles the mind to think about wasting all the irreplaceable experience and knowledge that these older workers have gained over their lifetimes. It is truly a homegrown resource we need to exploit for the future of our nation," says Weber.