Shortly after the gloom and doom predictions following the 2008 recession, many analysts predicted seniors would have to work longer and retire later than planned. In some cases, that is true but another phenomenon has contributed to a surprisingly high number of retirees who plan on staying active in the workforce, either as entrepreneurs, consultants or as employees. A strong work ethic does not simply dissolve and today’s seniors are bearing that reality out.
According to the 2015 CareerBuilder’s annual retirement survey, 54% of senior workers plan on continuing work after retiring from their current career. This figure represented an astounding 45% increase from the 2014 survey. Of this eager group of seniors, 81% planned on working part-time while 19% intended to work full-time.
Surprisingly, a 2015 analysis of the Bureau of Labor Statistics Current Population Survey (CPS), average retirement ages for men and women were remarkably similar to retirement ages in the 2013 survey. Women plan on retiring at age 62, the same as ten years ago, while men declare 64 the ideal retirement age. The average retirement age is defined as that age when labor force participation falls below 50%.
The 2015 EBRI Retirement Confidence Survey of workers and retirees age 25 and older indicates that the “percentage of workers planning to work for pay in retirement now stands at 67% compared with just 23% of retirees who report they worked for pay in retirement ten years ago.”
Interpreting Retirement Statistics
There can be no doubt that today’s seniors want to stay engaged. Certainly, some seniors fear they will outlive their retirement savings but many others simply refuse to stop working. Seniors believe they have invested in their careers and have the experience to be productive and helpful.
A perfect example of how productive seniors can be is the Wasserman Campus in Los Angeles. The residents in this independent and assisted living community reside on a campus that is part of the Motion Picture and Television Fund. Here, veterans of the entertainment industry are cohabitating and doing some pretty amazing, very creative projects.
NPR reported that the community of senior actors, editors, producers and writers has credits dating back to “days of live television” and many residents are as busy as ever. The community currently runs Channel 22, a station that exclusively services the Wasserman Community but reflects the accrued talents of the participating senior residents.
About 25% of the 200 senior residents have collaborated on such shows as “Law and Disorder,” and storylines based on a fictional “Precinct 22,” or a show featuring 90-year old women performing their version of “the View.” The end result is that the Wasserman Campus is certainly one of the most engaged in the US.
The CEO Speaks
The CEO of the Motion Picture and Television Fund is Bob Beitcher, an enthusiastic supporter of Channel 22. Beitcher says that even though some contributors need reminders about medication intake or require a midday nap, they love their work.
In fact, some studies reveal that seniors who stay active physically and mentally outlive those who truly retire and are not as active. Many live past age 90 and live about 5.4 years longer than more docile retirees.
Anne Faulkner, Channel 22 program director, describes her experience working with the seniors: “When you come in here you would think, ‘Oh, these are old people, and they’re retired. Their life’s over.’ This is a place you can come and still amount to something.”
Much as we advocate embracing hobbies to stay vital and engaged, it seems the Wasserman Campus has found a way to allow seniors to do what they do best; apply their career experiences to productive use. Our seniors may be residing in assisted living or independent senior communities but the beat goes on. As Epictetus famously declared, “He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.”