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Working Through Retirement

Dana Larsen
By Dana LarsenSeptember 12, 2016

Even though ageism seems rampant, many seniors report increased happiness in the workplace.

Read about this dichotomy of sentiments and why continuing to work through retirement offers many benefits.

Why Seniors Should Consider Working Through Retirement

The world hasbecome a bit of an anomaly when it comes to the workplace. The parallel between Baby Boomers and the Millennial generation bridges very different personalities and work habits and with those, ageism can present a problem.

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Not to mention, some seniors simply can’t keep working into retirement as they suffer from health challenges, both cognitive and physical. However, most retirement and employment analysts believe that, for many Americans, 21st century retirement includes — and will include — some work, according to Columbia’s 2016 Age Boom Academy. U.S. News & World Report comments:

“For the next 20 years, about 10,000 baby boomers will turn 65 each day. This is a scary number when we look at the government resources available to support this large of an elderly population. The oldest baby boomers turned 60 in 2006, and when the trend peaks in 2030, the number of people over age 65 will soar to 71.5 million — that’s 1-in-5 Americans.”

While the new realities are not ideal from a government perspective, they can definitely be depressing for Americans who have been diligently working for 30+ years to enjoy a fulfilling golden years’ existence. However, with a paradigm shift and a little research that shows continuing to work offers many benefits, many seniors have discovered that choosing to work through retirement is the best way to go.

The average age of U.S. presidents is almost 55 years, and 21 presidents were older than 60 when they retired from office. Ronald Reagan was 77 when he left office. If Americans trust their presidents to be seniors — and even desire their proven political experience and wisdom —why has ageism become so prevalent?

The truth is that many workplaces desire both generations and perspectives. Both age groups offer something unique and the evolution of business is showing that the different generations teach each other. For example, Baby Boomers offer their breadth of experience and industry knowledge while Millennials are technologically savvy. So, while many seniors desire retirement, studies show that continuing to work not only benefits society both financially and in the workforce, but also helps individuals live longer, richer lives for a multiple of reasons — including increased mental stimulation and socialization.

In fact, research has shown that many people’s’ health severely decline after they retire. Read below to discover why seniors may want to hold on to their day job a while longer:

1. A few extra years of work cushion your retirement fund.

Millions of American workers are facing a tough financial dilemma when it comes to planning for retirement. Modern medical technology is allowing people to live longer and healthier lives, but the savings necessary to sustain them through their declining years just isn’t there. As a result, many Americans have decided to extend their careers and work into their late 60s, through their 70s, in the hopes of enjoying a more financially secure retirement. Even retiring at one position to be hired for work at another company is an option to help sustain finances.

Another financial benefit to working later is the extended healthcare coverage that you will continue to receive through your employer. The cost of health insurance premiums for the elderly can be devastating in some cases, such as where the insured has serious health problems. Long-term care or critical illness coverage can really make all the difference.

Also, by working longer, you gain benefits along with increased personal savings as well as Social Security benefits. If you defer your Social Security benefits until age 70 or later, then you can expect to have to save 25% more for your retirement than if you started receiving benefits at your normal retirement.

2. Retiring later may prevent Alzheimer’s or dementia.

A sound mind requires work, according to new research by the National Institute of Health. The ‘use it or lose it’ theory of exercising the brain and staying mentally sharp is true. Scientist Carole Dufouil comments, “For each additional year of work, the risk of getting dementia is reduced by 3.2%.” This is because working tends to keep people socially connected, mentally challenged and physically active — all necessary ingredients to help prevent mental decline.

About 35 million people worldwide have dementia, and Alzheimer’s is the most common type. In the U.S., about 5 million have Alzheimer’s —one out of nine people aged 65 and over. What causes the mind-robbing disease isn’t known and there is no cure or any treatments that slow its progression. However, INSERM and other scientific studies, including one from King’s College in London, show that keeping the brain active, as well as maintaining human relationships, is important in combating dementia. It’s more staying cognitively active, staying socially active, and continuing to be engaged in whatever it is that’s enjoyable to you that’s important, Dufouil notes.

While some people will stay socially engaged with their communities, families and friends after retirement, many do not. Individual drive and personality is a huge factor, in this instance. Staying cognitively engaged is also important; and work tends to keep the brain engaged. So if someone is no longer working, they’ll need to focus on mind-exercising activities, such as chess, cards, reading and/or number crunching through sports or other hobbies.

3. The government is not prepared for Boomers to retire.

Next Avenue provides a sneak peek into the future of work and retirement. Every day 10,000 Americans turn 65 which will definitely impact the labor force of the future. Worldwide, the percentage of adults over 65 is expected to double — from 7-14% of the total, by the year 2040. The aging population boom will put tremendous stress on the resources and services that communities provide for older adults. Government resources, such as Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security simply don’t have the funding to support such a large senior population. Not only that, with the price of health care increasing along with long-term care costs and a shortage of senior housing, the nation has some serious planning to do in the near future, which is why people working longer is not only desirable but also may become necessary.

The New “Working” Reality

According to a recent Gallup poll, the expectant retirement age has been steadily increasing since the mid 1990s and has reached a new expectant retirement age of 67 as many seniors were hit by the recession.

The silver lining? Nourishing our bodies and minds contributes to latter years’ quality of life. Pardon the cliche, but our bodies really are “well-oiled machines” that need maintenance and care. The average life expectancy in the U.S. is 78 years, according to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which means that exercising, eating a healthy diet and keeping our minds engaged and happy (and yes — working longer, in some instances) helps us enjoy a more active, mentally sound retirement. The Journal of Geriatric Medicine recommends to all seniors that the best way to keep mind and body healthy “is to combine keeping physically active with eating a balanced diet and getting your blood pressure and cholesterol checked regularly.”

You may have to work longer than anticipated. But taking the time to have a paradigm shift to appreciate how work can actually enhance your life — and possibly postpone Alzheimer’s — definitely provides a healthy perspective.

How do you feel about working through retirement? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

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