When do you want to retire?…Statistics indicate that over 30% of the work force plans to retire at age 80 or older that is one number that made me take notice.
If you are like me, when reading, or listening to the radio, or watching the news, I often hear statistics thrown out. Often they go right by me, but when I heard that over 30% of the work force plans to retire at age 80 or older that is one number that made me take notice.
I know they say that 60 is the new 40, but come on, 80! When I was growing up, 80 was ancient. And certainly people in their 80’s did not comprise 30% of the workforce. However, today Census data shows the number of Americans living to age 90 and beyond has tripled in the past three decades to almost 2 million and is likely to quadruple by 2050.
People often say you grow old when you retire, that you need to keep working to give your life meaning. I don’t know if that is true, but at 80, I think you have earned the right for a little downtime. However, after a vicious cycle of no-growth for the stock market and persistently high unemployment more Americans are finding themselves in their 50s and 60’s with little money saved for retirement. Most companies no longer have pensions, so those with little or no savings will have to depend on Social Security which was never designed to be the sole source of your income in retirement. In fact, many who draw Social Security have incomes that are considered to be below the poverty line!
Unfortunately, it is not a question of wanting to stay in the workforce to stay connected. Well, in a way it is, because people need to keep working to stay connected to a paycheck. It is not for the love of their job or the desire to stay working; it is people cannot afford to retire. And that is sad. More than half of retirees, 54 percent, report they have less than $25,000 saved, according to a survey by the Employee Benefit Research Institute.
Baby boomers born between 1946 and 1964 make up about 78 million Americans. In 2011 the first wave of boomers will turn 65. So, even though genetic researchers say they are getting close to developing drugs to help older people age well, the Gerontological Society on Aging still advocates exercise and good nutrition as the key to a good quality of life. Exercise, combined with a diet high in fruits and vegetables, fish and healthy fats, has shown to decrease odds of developing diseases of aging, including cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
So, whether you are lucky enough to have an opportunity to decide whether you want to retire, or if you have retired, enjoy it. And to those who must keep working or for those who do not have the luxury of controlling their destiny with regard to work and for everyone who is a Baby Boomer and beyond, keep moving.
And be kind to the people in the workforce. It could be someone’s grandmother!
About Alane Cunningham
Alane is a graduate of Eastern Michigan University. She retired from the University of Michigan after 27 years. She currently lives in Florida in a small beachside community with her husband. She navigates retirement with human nature observations realizing everyone must find their own way to happiness through this passage of life.
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