I have reached the age where many of my siblings, friends and colleagues either left the workforce or are headed in the direction of what we call retirement. But this is not your parent’s retirement as people today are living longer than ever and looking to remain active, healthy, useful and, in many cases, engaged in work long after retirement age.
Many factors could be at play here as our longer lifespans have fueled our desire to remain relevant. For many people, fishing, golfing, travelling, and hanging with the grandchildren are no longer fulfilling on their own. Whether it’s about identity or purpose, many want to further contribute, give back, be of service.
According to a report titled The New Age of Aging, based on a nationally representative survey of more than 2,000 U.S. adults with more than 900 adults age 50+, here are five key insights:
- The demographic makeup of the U.S. is turning upside down as older adults will soon outnumber youth under 18 for the for the first time in our history.
- The definition of “old” has been pushed back by twenty years, driven by a new breed of older adults. People over 60 are now more active, open-minded, and curious, and far less rigid and isolated than previous generations.
- Seventy-one percent of today’s modern elders, adults 65+, say the best time of their life is right now or in front of them.
- We need to re-imagine purposeful roles for older adults, as 83% of adults 65+ say it’s more important to feel “useful” rather than “youthful” in their retirement years.
- There is a need and desire to better match our healthspans to our lifespans.
The survey found that a majority of today’s retirees and pre-retirees say they want both work and retirement: full-time, part-time, or cycling in and out of work. Flex-work, remote-work, sabbaticals, and paid leave should no longer be restricted to younger workers. And keeping older adults working could fuel economic growth and promote greater lifelong financial security.
Age Wave further uncovered five keys to thriving in this longevity:
- Actively take care of your physical, mental, and emotional health.
- Build and nurture strong relationships with family, friends, and loved ones.
- Maintain a clear sense of purpose and pursue meaningful involvements.
- Be willing to course-correct as needed to achieve your dreams throughout life.
- Commit to saving and investing for lifelong financial security.
A sense of purpose and connection to others enhances your well-being and can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s, heart disease, and stroke. On the other hand, loneliness can be more deadly than cigarette smoking.
Purpose can be found in many ways as people choose to volunteer time and expertise to organizations or causes that are most meaningful to them. Consider joining an organization like Third Act where you can contribute your time to protecting our planet.
Try replacing the notion of “aging” with “longevity.” Rather than ask an elderly person how old they are, ask them how many years they have lived. You get the same answer, but I think this may signal a recognition of what they have accomplished rather than simply endured.
Regardless, whether you are in you 65, 55, 45, or even younger, the sooner you rethink retirement, the sooner you’ll be prepared to make the most of it when it arrives.