What does retirement mean to you? What does it mean to baby boomers?
Retirement is traditionally viewed as the resignation, sometimes mandatory, from a long-term employer at about 65. This age was set by German Chancellor Otto von Bismark in the late 1880s.
Nowadays, people are living longer and have better health at older ages than they did in Bismark's times. We have gained 25 years of life since 1900, and research show that we have many creative and productive years ahead!
Baby boomers, the demographic group born during the Post-World War 11 baby boom (approximately between the years 1946 and 1964), are redefining traditional views of retirement.
Roughly 44 million boomers in the United States are now 65 years or older. By 2050, the US Census Bureau expects that figure to double as the largest generation in American history lives longer than any before it.
Some boomers are looking forward to their retirement adventure when they continue to pursue paid or unpaid activities that give them purpose, direction, and satisfaction. As a group, baby boomers are the wealthiest, most active, and most physically fit generation in their era.
Along with the aging of this iconic cohort come data about their poor preparation for the golden years. Insufficient preparedness and lack of financial resources without steady employment paint a gloomy picture for some boomers. Current economic and social welfare systems do not meet the demands and expectations of the boomers.
Some boomers are taking necessary precautions to ensure they can continue to do as they wish, and have enough money to remain solvent during their retirement years. Unfortunately, this is a worrisome time for low-income workers and for those without substantial savings or pensions.
No comprehensive national government policy has emerged on how to regard employment past the traditional retirement age. A handful of institutions, such the National Institutes of Health, provide benefits once workers have retired. Employees can work on a contract or part-time basis; this takes advantage of their expertise while easing them into their post-employment lives.
Good health and longevity enable boomers to continue to work at older ages. Some have financial planners or do-it-yourself retirement plans. Thus, they can rely on accumulated savings in addition to Social Security and Medicare benefits.
Unfortunately, some boomers are entering their retirement years with debt. Making payments on previously incurred debt makes it difficult to pay for retirement living. It is recommended that adults seek financial advice from a government institution, bank or reputable financial planner to plan for later life.
Create your desired work and lifestyle
If you manage your health, mental and financial issues you can create your desired future. You can convince others to hire you full-or part-time, study, travel, establish your own business, restructure or modify your current position, do volunteer work or pursue leisure activities that give you feelings of accomplishment and confidence.
Mary, a computer systems analyst, took early retirement from her software company at 50 to pursue her dream of being a chef. A growing segment of the work force, like Mary, is retiring from their job five to 15 years earlier than tradition dictates to pursue new options. Mary's company reduced costs by offering an attractive early retirement package.
A number of boomers are entrepreneurs. Matt, a dermatologist, is expanding his practice to several locations in California. By hiring competent assistants, he has time and money for exotic vacations.
Travel is another option. Research the lifestyle before making investments. For example, rent a small van and take a few short trips with a compatible partner. If you want to combine study with travel, investigate Road Scholar, an educational organization that offers inexpensive short-term academic programs, combined with international travel.
Thousands of adults return to school to discover they are excellent students. Many mature adults share classrooms with students fresh out of high school. Don, an athletic coach, returned to school at 65 to pursue a degree in Latin.
Some mature women enter the work force for the first time. Ethel, widowed at 60 with a house mortgage, turned her crisis into an opportunity to pursue her writing dream. She has a column and hosts a radio program dealing with seniors’ issues.
Volunteer work makes many adults feel good. It gives them a sense of purpose and helps them develop interests and friendships. Local newspapers and the Internet list community organizations that require help.
See yourself as someone who has choices, takes action and operates from a position of inner strength. Many outstanding people did not reach their prime until long after 60. Grandma Moses was painting at 91, and Barbara McClintock, who won the Nobel Prize at 81, continued her research until her death at 90.
Retirement can mean continuing growth and revitalization. It’s never too late to pursue your dream. What’s your next "retirement" venture?
© Carole Kanchier, PhD