Older Workers / Part 1:
When Age Is An Advantage
Dylan sang, “The times they are a-changin’,” and the septuagenarian’s lyrics presaged today’s workforce. Gone is the gold watch and golden years playing golf or relaxing on the front porch. Today’s older workers are in a silver state of mind — and it contains silver linings. Whereas once older workers were considered on their way out, between the Boomer Age Wave and a tremulous economy, there are more seniors in the workforce now than ever before — and they’re savvier about what it takes to get and stay there.
LinkedIn profile? Check. A presence on other social sites such as Facebook, Twitter or Google+? Very possibly. And if an older adult has been self employed, sold the business to retire, and is now seeking part-time work, either to make ends meet, stay connected, or both, they’re in for a positive surprise: some postings actually require potential employees to be “old enough” for the job!
Consider a recent ad on the venerable CraigsList.com seeking a Senior Citizen Sports Writer for a national sports humor website. The ad stated: “You need to be over the age of 60 and be willing to contribute to a weekly sports column.”
Now that middle-aged and older employees comprise the lion’s share of the workforce, it behooves businesses to cater to their well-being — something reverse mortgage professionals are ideally positioned to do. A healthy, happy senior makes the best HECM prospect, whether that’s this year, or in a decade’s time.
A recent national study of workers aged 53 to 85, all of whom worked at least 20 hours a week, revealed the following happy findings:
- 98 percent said their personal lives had no effect on their work
- 85 percent reported work seldom interfered with their personal lives
- More than 80 percent felt secure in their position, a surprising result considering the extent of age-related employment discrimination
- Fewer than half felt stressed due to time pressure at work
- Just over half felt that competing demands were a strong source of stress.
Without children at home, much of the time challenges that face younger workers are gone, researchers acknowledge. Yet pressures still exist, often in the form of rapid technological advances that make multimodal multi-tasking more prevalent than ever before.
The key for both older workers and their younger colleagues is age-old wisdom: knowing how to take care of yourself. To maintain the same edge and enthusiasm that showed up in this study, older employees are well advised to:
- Sleep on it. While lack of sleep is a major complaint among younger workers juggling family responsibilities along with a job, getting enough rest can also be problematic for older adults who may have a harder time falling asleep or awaken frequently during the night. If sleep is an issue, take naps when possible, but don’t intentionally skimp on the shut-eye. Sleep deprivation reduces both immunity and job effectiveness.
- Stay flexible. Exercise keeps both body and brain nimble and able to tackle stressors on the job. You don’t necessarily need to join a gym; simple stretches and walking are highly restorative.
- Take charge. Older workers are likely to be experienced at time management and may have evolved excellent workplace strategies over the years. Something as basic as a to-do list, whether on an old-fashioned notepad or a BlackBerry, helps people prioritize and set boundaries.
So encourage the seniors you meet with to enjoy their second — or third, or fourth — career reinvention, which can provide a nice supplement to a reverse mortgage, or vice versa. Or a HECM might be seen as sequential in their life progression: an encore career in their 60s and 70s, a reverse mortgage in their 80s and beyond. Because as the rising tide of elders makes clear, aging isn’t what it used to be.