Today, millions of members of the baby boomer generation are being confronted with the new realities of aging in America. Many now reaching the traditional retirement age of 65 are still fit and vigorous and do not consider themselves to be old. Thanks to medical science, 60 has indeed become the new 40, and most can look forward to years — and perhaps decades! — more of life in relatively good health. Yet, many do not want to retire.
Many lack sufficient financial resources to maintain a satisfactory standard of living throughout a lengthy retirement and know they will need additional income. Others, who have enough saved to retire in comfort, do not want to give up their active lifestyles in order to spend their “golden years” in a Sun Belt senior citizens community. They would prefer to stay productive and in a familiar environment, rather than struggle to find ways to fill the endless idle hours between visits with children and grandchildren.
There is a growing recognition that remaining active and engaged in productive work is one of the best ways for seniors to maintain and protect their mental and physical health, adding not only to their longevity, but also to the enjoyment and quality of their lives as they age.
Fortunately, today there are more options for those who, out of preference or necessity, are not ready to retire. Starting a second career is no longer the exclusive province of those facing a mid-life crisis. It has become so common among older individuals that it has been given a new name – recareering.
Those who have reached mandatory retirement age at their jobs may not need to give up the work they have enjoyed doing for decades. Their former employers may be eager to retain their valuable experience and job skills by rehiring them as consultants, or as ideal short-term replacement or temporary workers who require little or no training. Others will turn their job skills and experience into a second career by marketing themselves as independent contractors using social networking, computer bulletin boards and temporary employment agencies. Stay in touch with those with whom you worked while you were at your old job. They already know what you can do, and can be a prime source for referrals and references.
Some of those who have been forced out of their old jobs after reaching 65 have used the opportunity to go back to school to retrain themselves in a different field in which they have taken an interest, or for which there is a strong demand in the labor market. These individuals make do on their Social Security or pension benefits until their retraining is complete. Those who would feel uncomfortable sitting in a classroom with students who are 40 years younger than they are can often find accredited online courses, which they can take in the comfort of their own home.
Others may be able to turn their hobby into a new vocation, especially if it entails a marketable skill, such as needlework, gardening or carpentry.
Another boon for seniors who feel that they are not yet ready to retire, but who have had enough of the rigors of commuting or the boredom of the office, is the home computer. Telecommuting enables them to work at their own pace and in the comfort of their own home. The various online marketplaces enable them to market their skills to a broad audience with a minimum of effort.
Those for whom generating income is not a high priority can keep themselves active and engaged by volunteering their time and specialized skills to help others or community organizations. Many retired public school teachers and college professors enjoy sharing their knowledge as volunteer instructors in adult education programs. There are civic organizations which recruit former executives to serve as volunteer consultants to small business owners.