Posted by suzanne on Sep 19, 2015
For adults age 50 and over, longevity has combined with a rethinking of work and income options. There is a radical shift taking place with an expansion of our working lives and a re-imagining of retirement, combined with a demographic shift to an aging society.
Delayed retirement is a growing trend. Since the mid-1990′s, there has been an increase in the employment rate of older Canadians. In fact, Statistics Canada data show that from 1997 to 2010, the employment rate of men 55 and over increased from 30.5% to 39.4%1. During the same time, the rate for women grew from 15.8% to 28.6%. In addition, a Canadian survey indicates that a growing number of individuals expect to be working full time at age 662.
It is a pleasure to announce my new study. Funded by the Canadian Education and Research Institute for Counselling (CERIC), this project will examine how Canadians in their 50s, 60s and 70s are seeking out second and third careers as “retirement” is redefined. It will also look at how career professionals can best assist older adults in their career development. The Redirection: Work and Later Life Career Development Project will examine this new phase of later life career that is emerging.
I coined the term “redirection” to refer to the process of finding new pursuits during the second half of life. Redirection, which aims to move beyond traditional notions of retirement, occurs as older adults increasingly seek the rewards of work and stay engaged. It can be a stage of renewal, reinvention and growth.
1Galarneau, Diane and Carrière, Yves. 2011. “Delayed retirement: A new trend?” Perspectives on Labour and Income. Autumn 2011, vol. 23, no. 4. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 75-001-XIE.
Posted by suzanne on Aug 3, 2014
This August, it is timely to recognize leading-edge American social activist Maggie Kuhn for her work in the field of aging. August 3rd marks the 109th year since her birth. Maggie was a champion of aging and the later years. She founded the Gray Panthers in August 1970.
Maggie’s work is notable not only because she was ahead of her time with her vision. She also broke stereotypes and, at age 65, embarked on the most important work of her life. In fact, rather than accept being pushed into a quiet retirement by her employer and societal pressure, she chose to take action and work for the rights of older people. After being forced into retirement from the Presbyterian Church, Maggie, along with her friends who found themselves in similar circumstances, organized and founded the group that became the Gray Panthers. The organization focused on the issues of older people including pensions and pension rights, health care and age discrimination. Gray Panthers also addressed the larger social issues of the time such as the Vietnam War.
“By the year 2020, the year of perfect vision, the old will outnumber the young.”
Maggie was a charismatic and energetic leader. She advocated for older adults to have a voice and the opportunity to provide input into programs, practice and social policy. She encouraged older adults to stay involved and take action on social issues. In doing so, she started a cultural revolution.
Maggie also believed in the power of intergenerational connection. One of her mantras was ‘Young and old together’. Under her guidance, Gray Pantners came to represent the possibility and power of later life and to stand for social and economic justice and peace for all ages. The organization’s motto is ‘Age and Youth in Action’ very much echoing Maggie’s sentiments. Maggie herself demonstrated how older adults can be active in the world, working for social issues that are important to them.
“Learning and sex until rigor mortis.”
Until her death at age 89, Maggie continued her work as an activist and advocate. She redefined aging and is a role model to all of us – women and men, young and old alike.
“There must be a goal at every stage of life! There must be a goal!”
Maggie Kuhn was a visionary leader. She inspired many people to view aging differently. She left an incredible legacy. Unfortunately, ageism, discrimination and lack of intergenerational connection continue to be issues that require attention in our society. These are barriers to a cultural revolution that would shift our society from a youth-oriented culture to a society for all ages. In our aging society, we need more people like Maggie to help move the cultural revolution forward.
Posted by suzanne on Mar 21, 2014
This week, I was invited to Peterborough by Hatch to speak to older adults in the community about later life empowerment through self renewal, challenging roles and community innovation during the New Retirement. My presentation was sponsored by CARP. This is some coverage in the local media about my presentation.
It was a fabulous evening: we had a great turnout and people stayed after my presentation for an hour-long Q & A session. We discussed ‘retirement’, volunteering and social enterprise. Hearing members of the audience’s views on this topic was interesting. Not all older adults want to volunteer; some want to do more. Moreover, some want to earn money for their extensive knowledge, skill and expertise. This indicates to me that there is a shift occurring within attitudes and expectations for ‘retirement’.
I engage groups and help them see opportunities – the opportunities of later life. In partnership with Hatch and Peterborough Economic Development Business Advisory Board, I am offering a workshop series for adults who are in the Third Age and are interested in starting a new enterprise – something that generates revenue and gives back to the community. Please contact me (on my contact page) or visit Hatch for further information.
Posted by suzanne on Mar 14, 2014
My scholarly article entitled Redirection was recently published in The Gerontologist. In this paper, I discuss the sociological and psychological process of later life career development as an individual enters a new career stage. To date, this has received little attention in the career development field.
Retirement is changing. There is great knowledge, skill and experience that older adults can transfer into new roles. I predict that organizations and communities will begin to recognize this.
The fact is that more people will reach this life stage as life expectancy continues to increase. More individuals will be looking for the next challenge.
What is your next challenge?
Posted by suzanne on Jun 28, 2013
Many factors have impacted our image of retirement with the traditional age for retirement influencing expectations in particular. Age sixty-five looms large as a magical age for retirement and seniorhood. Yet, this was not always the case.
Retirement is a social construction. In the past, there was no retirement. There were few elderly people because it was rare for someone to reach old age.
When retirement was first conceived in 1883 by Chancellor Otto Von Bismark of Germany, western society was different. Perspectives were different. Sixty-five years of age was chosen for an individual to receive a pension; however, this was with the expectation that most individuals would never live long enough to actually retire and collect the pension.
A lot has changed. Older adults are healthier and life expectancy has increased significantly over the past 130 years.
Individuals want to remain active and engaged. It is no longer your grandmother’s or your grandfather’s retirement.
Posted by suzanne on Apr 20, 2013
Individuals want to be active and engaged during the second half of life. We work and we play. Of course, it is important to continue doing meaningful, fulfilling activity. This makes us feel good about ourselves and about life.
Engagement means doing, participating, being involved, contributing, learning and using skills, strengths, gifts and talents. This requires exploring options and possibilities to find the right time and the right fit within in the right place for you.
Staying active helps us to be physically and mentally stimulated. This keeps us healthy and aging positively and provides purpose and meaning in life.
I often hear about this desire to stay active and engaged from the individuals who I work with and interact with. However, there can be too much of a good thing.
During retirement we can get caught up in the ‘busy ethic’ that we have in our society. This leads to too much activity and too many demands. Unfortunately, when we find it hard to slow down, just to take some deep breaths or to take a break, this creates great stress and anxiety.
In my work, I advise individuals to slow down so they can take the time to stop, reflect and contemplate all that is good and wonderful – the blessings, the precious things in life. Contemplation enables your mind the time required to catch up to your body.
Relatedly, balance in roles and activities is important because sometimes we do too much while trying to do it all. We need to make decisions, re-arrange and re-sort our lives; then, take away activities no longer important to us or that just no longer make sense. We have to prioritize and determine what is most important, most meaningful and fulfilling. Sometimes we need to take additional time to see things through to fruition. And sometimes we need to recognize that we are not ‘key actors’; we need to know when we are planting seeds that will later germinate.
We need the reflection time and the balance to see the bigger picture and to be more personally fulfilled so we can achieve what comes next.
Cultivate a balanced, engaged life. Excellent advice at any age.
Posted by suzanne on Mar 18, 2013
As a gerontologist entrepreneur and educator, I regularly get asked to speak to community groups and nonprofit organizations. In my work providing education and awareness about the second half of life and presenting on my research, I meet interesting people in the community and have fascinating discussions with them.
I recently spoke to a Rotary Club in Southern Ontario where we talked about the second half of life and retirement. I asked those in the audience to tell me about their vision for retirement.
As I have often noticed when this topic comes up, a majority of individuals in the audience described an engaged and active retirement. Most envisioned a retirement of ‘doing’ – being mentally, physically and socially active.
This is one picture that a man in the audience drew, showing himself as active and engaged. The specific activities and pursuits are not the focus here, but the ‘doing’ and ‘being’ are critical to this individual, and this is an important message. This is but one image of retirement; however, I really like how this individual portrayed being active in this drawing.
What are your thoughts? Over the next months, I will share more drawings and mappings of the ‘new retirement’.
Posted by suzanne on Feb 21, 2013
Retirement has changed.
While images of the ‘ideal’ retirement abound that are vivid and compelling, in reality, we each have our own idea of retirement. More often, we are rejecting the old images. Clearly, things have changed. Now we have the ‘new retirement’.
Wherever I go, people are talking about retirement and the second half of life; however, there is little opportunity to facilitate, cultivate and design the new retirement. I hope to change this.
In my work with Generation X, Baby Boomers and seniors, individuals are sharing their image of retirement with me. Through what I am calling the New Retirement Project, I will be sharing some images of the new retirement that people have drawn or mapped out as they consider and contemplate their retirement. I will be sharing these images through social media.
Stay tuned, dear Readers!