“When people say ‘retire’ I want to fly at them and bite their throat.”
~ actress Dame Judi Dench, 79
While we may be less vehement about the prospect of retiring than Dame Dench, the swelling ranks of older adults who are hale, hearty, and enjoying their work is a silver tsunami to be reckoned with, as we’ve noted before.
In fact, the UK is hosting its first-ever national debate and exhibition to discover the societal value of people living and working longer. More than 200 leaders from all sectors of society will convene October 1-2nd for a series of live-streamed debates. With 35 percent of the UK population 50+ — and healthier, better educated, more skilled, and more dynamic (perhaps à la Dame Judi’s decree) than ever before — the gathering is a breath of positivity for our senior brethren across the Atlantic.
Yet while this forum is a step in the right direction in terms of shifting thinking and behavior about aging, the concept of “old” is so deeply linked in our collective consciousness with “loss” (of health, spouses, friends, mobility, autonomy, etc.) that changing this mindset will take time, and creativity.
Certainly, whether we want to retire or not, many of us won’t be able to do so financially, according to a new Federal Reserve survey. A fourth of non-retired US adults ages 55 to 64 expect to keep working “for as long as possible” in order to fund their later years; 18% expect to find a part-time job after retirement, already reinventing what the term “retire” has traditionally meant. But many people are not remotely prepared for their future: 25 percent say they’ve done “no financial planning” for retirement (the study doesn’t mention whether this is the same group that plans to work for as long as they can).
And sometimes, even seniors who want to continue working may find themselves in dire straits, as happened to a couple in their 70s who relocated from Texas to Florida for a job that fell through. The couple ended up sleeping in their car for several weeks until two Good Samaritans launched an online fundraising campaign that raised over $14,000 from more than 350 supporters. How much easier this couple’s lives might have been if they’d had a reverse mortgage.
The time is ripe for reverse mortgages to play a grander role as a possible way to fund one’s elder years, since even part-time positions after retirement are unlikely to generate the income level needed to keep pace with the rising cost of living, or unexpected health care expenses that aren’t covered under Medicare.
The good news is, the quest for mature workers is growing. A recent post on Craig’s List sought a “Retired Intellectual — Art and Book Cataloguing” to be compensated at $100/day. The ad stated,
Art Gallery and antiquarian bookshop looking for an older intellectual with a good knowledge of literature, history and art. Should be familiar with the Bay Area literary scene 1950-1990. Part-time work cataloguing, researching and imaging. Should be familiar with Mac Filemaker and Photoshop. Send CV.
Intriguingly, the gallery was searching for a retiree who is also technically proficient! Clearly, the marketplace is attuning to the evolving elder demographic, and rising to meet the need for older adults to stay gainfully employed in enjoyable work, so that nobody needs to bite a throat (or bite the bullet) in frustration over growing older, being “retired”, or lacking the money they need to live their later years in fullness and well being.