Working After Retirement: Keeping Your Skills Fresh With Age

December 1, 2019

In American culture, “retirement” is considered to be a stage in our lives when we may be less mentally or physically equipped to continue contributing to society. Once we reach the legal retirement age of 62 to 67 years old, we are often expected to cease working at our full-time jobs. But why should we?

For some, the prospect of retirement is a welcome opportunity to slow down after decades of work. Others find the loss of their daily job thrust upon them; a disruption to what has been the norm for most of their lives. With longer lifespans, people are healthier and live well into their eighties, some with the assets, the wherewithal, and the willingness to continue working in some capacity.

Sharing our skills and experiences in the public or private sector is, in large part, how we identify ourselves. It’s also how others recognize us. Consequently, when it’s time to retire, we are left asking, “who am I now?” or, “what do I do next?” Seeing ourselves as competent and useful, and sharing our expertise, is what keeps us vibrant.

Benefits of Working After Retirement

Having a daily routine that provides a sense of purpose and direction can contribute to overall good physical and mental health. Continuing meaningful work, whether it’s a paid part-time job or volunteering, can provide several benefits:

  • Feelings of accomplishment and recognition
  • The satisfaction of problem-solving and learning new things
  • A sense of vitality and productivity
  • A boost in self-esteem through the use of our strengths and knowledge

Lawrence Miller of Udemy asserts, “Americans need to face the reality that systems like Social Security and Medicare will collapse if every boomer calls it quits at the “nonsensical” age of 65. There’s zero reason to stop sharing if you’re physically and mentally able to give.”

So, how can you share knowledge and experience, and discover new opportunities for growth and experimentation after retirement?

Finding Senior Jobs After Retirement

Workers 65 and older are becoming a larger share of the nation’s workforce. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, these older workers will constitute the fastest-growing segment of the workforce from 2014 to 2024. Many seniors decide to continue working because they enjoy the work and have harnessed a high level of expertise. Others (almost 19%) say they need to work at least part-time beyond the traditional retirement age due to increased living expenses.

Many retired seniors would like to work in some capacity but find it difficult to connect with employers. This is despite having valuable work experience and knowledge. Whether the goal is to supplement income, find a new challenge, or to connect with new people, identifying companies best suited for older workers can be challenging.

While retirement age parameters continue to be favored by many companies and organizations, there has been a move to beat “age bias” through advocacy amongst “age-friendly” employers. Older workers bring valuable traits such as knowledge, maturity, reliability, productivity, a strong work ethic, and flexibility with schedules and pay.

Companies like RetirementJobs.com, affiliated with Boston’s Age Strong Commission, are helping older workers with skills and expertise find companies who are age-friendly employers. They provide services such as resume critique, as well as career advice in areas like finding a job, the benefits of temp work, working while retired, self-employment and retirement dreams jobs.

Volunteer Opportunities for Older Adults

Retirement has come and you are ready to pursue your hobbies, exercise, and travel. Scheduled meetings, early alarms, and punching a time clock are happily, things of the past, but you miss being involved. Working after retirement, full- or part-time, may not fit into this new lifestyle, but you would still like to share your skills, passions, and expertise.

“Giving Back” can come in the form of charitable contributions, working in the nonprofit world, or volunteering. This allows you to put your skills and expertise to work to help others. Many retirees turn to volunteering as a way of making an impact on their community. Doing so can re-establish a sense of identity and purpose.

Not only does volunteering benefit the organization, community, and people you are serving, but it can also be rewarding for you, as the volunteer. Given you choose the right charity and role for yourself, volunteering has proven benefits to physical and emotional well-being. Research has shown that older volunteers report decreased mortality rates, lower rates of depression, fewer physical limitations, and higher levels of well-being.

Stress and Aging: Recognizing & Managing Your Senior’s Symptoms

Unfortunately, with retirement, many seniors lose their social connections and say they lack companionship. Almost two-thirds of Senior Corps volunteers (67%) reported feeling less isolated after becoming involved in community service or civic engagement. Meaningful social interactions fill empty time with positive activities and can reintroduce a sense of purpose in life.

If you are looking for ways to fill some time, connect with others, make a social impact, and exercise your intellectual muscle, volunteering could be for you. Every community needs and relies on the involvement of volunteers. When selecting your charity or organization, make sure it aligns with your interests, values, and beliefs. Yes, you would like to help, but the opportunity needs to be fulfilling for you, too.

Volunteering in Boston

If you live in the Boston area, you may know that the city prides itself on being “Age Strong.” Boston’s Mayor Martin Walsh says, “our older residents are the heart of the city, and we look forward to serving their needs and drawing on their tremendous strength.”

Volunteer opportunities are plentiful in the Boston area. Seniors are encouraged and invited to share their accumulated wisdom, skills, and experience in places that offer cultural, educational, medical, and other services in both the public and private sectors. Visit the Age Strong Commission website to see a complete list of exciting opportunities like the ones listed below:

  • Brigham and Women’s Hospital
  • Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
  • JFK Family Services
  • Museum of Science
  • MEMORY Care
  • YMCA Roxbury
  • Covenant House

Retirement can take on many shapes; there is no one-size-fits-all. There are ways to achieve a successful post-retirement life with some research, creativity, and confidence in your skillset. Meaningful work, whether paid or on a volunteer basis, can be a way to access confidence and happiness. The beauty of retirement is that you can decide when, where, and how you would like to work in your golden years.

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