By Jim Hunt
As my 73rd birthday approaches, I wanted to write about the changing attitudes toward aging and how the concept of retirement is being reshaped. No longer is turning 65, or even 70, seen as an automatic cue to step away from the workforce. Instead, many seniors are pushing the boundaries, choosing to stay engaged in their professions or embarking on new ventures. The narrative around working after 70 is not just about financial necessity; it’s also about passion, purpose, and a desire to remain an active contributor to society.
Firstly, it’s vital to debunk the misconceptions surrounding the abilities of older adults. The notion that seniors are less competent or adaptable is an outdated stereotype. Many septuagenarians and older bring with them unparalleled experience, wisdom, and a unique perspective that is cultivated over decades. Their presence in the workplace can serve as a bridge between generations, fostering mentorship, knowledge transfer, and a collaborative environment.
Moreover, the benefits of working extend beyond the paycheck. Engagement in professional or vocational activities after 70 often provides a sense of purpose. For many, work isn’t just about fulfilling job duties; it’s an integral part of their identity. It offers a routine, social connections, and mental stimulation that can be incredibly beneficial for cognitive health. Numerous studies have shown that remaining mentally active can delay the onset of dementia and improve overall brain function.
Yet, it’s not just the seniors who gain from this. Employers and businesses can tap into a vast reservoir of expertise and experience by incorporating older adults into their workforce. Their lived experiences can offer insights that might be overlooked by younger employees. In a world that’s rapidly changing and where industries evolve overnight, having a diverse age range in a team can be a strategic advantage.
Moreover, working after 70 isn’t always about continuing in the same profession. Many seniors take this as an opportunity to pivot into roles or industries they’ve always been passionate about. This might mean starting a small business, consulting, or even volunteering in sectors close to their heart. With the luxury of experience and, in many cases, financial stability, the post-70 work landscape can be shaped more by desire than by necessity.
However, there are challenges. Not every industry or employer is open to the idea of older workers. Ageism, unfortunately, still exists, and it can be a barrier. Physical health can also be a concern, requiring adjustments in the type of work or the working conditions. The key here is flexibility. Both employers and employees need to approach the idea of working post-70 with an open mind, ready to adapt and make the necessary changes.
I’ve made some adjustments in my work routine and being able to create my own schedule has been an important factor. I schedule meetings later in the morning, so I can get in my daily workout, and I try not to be on the road for more than a couple days at a time. I also make sure to wear my Apple Watch, that has a fall detection and GPS location services. Technology can keep you in touch with loved ones and work colleagues, and monitor some of your health conditions, that was impossible in the past.
In conclusion, as the age demographic shifts and people live longer, healthier lives, our approach to work and retirement must evolve. Working after 70 is a testament to the indomitable spirit of individuals who choose to remain engaged, not because they must, but because they want to. It’s about challenging norms, breaking stereotypes, and, most importantly, celebrating the potential that exists within each of us, regardless of age. As society, it’s our responsibility to foster an environment where age is just a number, and passion and purpose know no bounds.