January 24, 2021
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Un-retiring in a changing economy

By: Julie Ann Soukoulis
August 10, 2018
Navigating the aging journey

Most of us were raised with the idea that we would get to retire one day. Before, we were told that our job would provide us with all the security we would need to retire somewhere between 55 and 65. We were also told that if we invested in IRA’s and 401k’s we would be able to live well after retirement and even travel.

What we were not told - is how unpredictable our financial environment can get, especially with the change of guard in the president’s office. What seems like economic growth to some - looks much more like inflation to others. What seems like a safe investment one day - can become like a Black Monday on another.

Meaning and purpose

For most of us - even when we do have enough retirement to remain active and mobile, to travel and to enjoy our days, it seems the need for structure, meaning and connection become increasingly important. Many of us did not have a vocation that brought meaning - most of us were doing what needed to be done to earn what was required to raise our families and put our kids through college.

And because of this – Un-retirement is becoming more common.

More than 25 percent of retirees return to work later and become un-retired.

40 percent of workers over age 65 had, previously, retired.

Those over 65 who are employed has climbed from 12.8 percent to 18.8 percent within 16 years.

Half of the folks over age 50 who weren’t looking for work said they’d go back for the right job.

The decision to go back to work is usually not driven by financial issues.

The reasons we go back to work

Most people it seems, go back to work for reasons that are unrelated to finances. They go back to work because they are feeling a need. The three reasons cited most often include:

•A sense of purpose

•Using your brain

•Social engagement

Financial reasons, as it turns out, are not a primary driver for most people who decide to go back to work. Sure, the money’s nice, but it’s the “softer” issues which drive most people back into the workplace. Rather than being driven by money, folks who un-retire typically search for jobs which provide meaning and stimulation.

An explosion in elder care need

Providing care and support to elders is an area where the un-retired have been flocking. Delivering companionship, support and the security of having essential daily needs met provides a person with a sense of purpose, meaning and education. Anytime a 65-year-old assists an 85-year-old with daily life activities - they get a sobering experience of what they are about to go through.

It is a shocking and staggering truth that we have failed to peer down the road far enough to actually lay down plans for after we are tired of being retired. And as we are going down that road - we are often blindsided by a diagnosis of some sort - such as cancer or diabetes or arthritis or osteoporosis.

The explosion in the need for elder care is coming from the boomers aging out. Many of us are retiring or have recently retired - or are realizing we may never be able to retire until we figure out how to deal with the high cost of not working and having inadequate social security or health care benefits. Not all of us have had the perfect job during our lives.

In home care companies

In home care companies are cropping up like the yellow/green of newly sown grass on a lawn.

As the need for care expands - so does the need for care providers. Who better for this job than those of us who will need this care soon ourselves. The scope of compassion, understanding and fore-planning that can come from this is nothing short of remarkable.

When we bond with an elder who has had a vibrant life and is happy to allow assistance when needed while delivering wisdom when necessary - we can engage in exchanges that feed the heart, mind and soul. Un-retired care providers are some of the most competent people out there. And the fact that they get paid - is simply icing.

And to quote my dear 90-year-old friend Norma “inch by inch is a cinch, but yard by yard can just be hard.” Focusing on our next step is the best way to discover where the meaning lies - and nine times out of ten, you will find it right where you are.

So, if you are un-retired and looking for meaning and value and connection - try becoming a care provider for those in the situation you most likely will be finding yourself, very soon.

Julie Ann Soukoulis is the owner of Home Instead Senior care office in Rohnert Park, mother of two and passionate about healthy living at all ages. Having cared for her own two parents, she understands your struggles and aims, through her website, to educate and encourage seniors & caregivers. Have a caregiving or aging concern? She’d love to hear from you at 586-1516 anytime.