One of my first indications that I was getting up there in age was when people in our small town started asking when I was going to retire.
The question came out of the blue to me. I had never considered stepping down from the work world, not completely. And the numbers I am seeing tell me I’m not alone.
The simple fact is we’re living longer. And whether it’s because of the need to work to support ourselves or the desire to stay active and vital, more boomers want to – and need to – work well into their senior years.
But as anyone who has lost their job after 55 knows, age discrimination is alive and well in the U.S. And it is the only form of discrimination that is ignored by lawmakers and accepted by most.
And the government hasn’t done much to correct that fact or to facilitate any kind of policy shift toward an aging workforce. And worldwide, we’re aging… quickly.
Japan is now considered a super-aged society. Twelve percent of its workforce is over the age of 65. Germany, the U.S., France, the U.K. and other Asian nations aren’t far behind.
And when you consider the retirement mess we’re in here at home, it only makes sense to work longer. Workers pay taxes and continue to contribute to Social Security, and there isn’t as big a draw on the available retirement resources.
And work not only helps pay the bills but also gives a person a sense of purpose, a reason to get up every day and more social interaction… All of which have been shown to offset the negative effects of the isolation, loneliness and depression that too often accompany old age.
Aging-friendly policies in the workplace and a more proactive approach to age discrimination would go a long way in opening up the work world to those who have to and want to work in retirement.
After all, many boomers don’t have a choice. The retirement funding disaster that is on our doorstep will be with us for a long time.
The last of the boomers reach retirement age in 2029, and unless a lot of us happen to win the lottery, work is the only option. Our government and its policies need to get on board with that fact.
But as time has gone on, I’ve begun to feel the effects of age. I hate to admit it, but I am slowing down, and I can now see that my workaday world can’t go on forever.
The only comfort I can derive from the unavoidable aging process is that our whole generation is hitting the wall at an astounding rate. Ten thousand boomers are retiring every day, and the volume is creating havoc in our ranks.