Posted by suzanne on Jan 31, 2016
It was a pleasure to have the opportunity to focus on Canada’s aging workforce at the recent symposium devoted to this topic. In fact, since presenting at CEDEC‘s Maturing Workforce Symposium held at Cannexus16 a few days ago, I have continued to reflect on some critical issues.
The aging population equates to an aging labour force and this has implications at the individual, organizational and societal level. These complex issues demand employer policy as well as social policy to help address them.
Life spans have increased and individuals are responsible for saving more for their retirement at the same time that financial markets and investment returns are shaky. It is no wonder various polls report that more people expect to continue working past traditional retirement age.
Mature or older workers have different goals and needs than younger age groups. They want flexibility from employers. They need career pathways that help them meet specific objectives.
Both the way we work and the linear career path of the past have changed. This collides with our intergenerational workplace and makes it urgent that employers create new programs and policies to facilitate talent management, training and development and career progression.
Later life career development is new terrain in the work-life landscape. Navigating job change and moving into mentorship roles are difficult tasks. In addition, succession planning and knowledge transfer need to be mapped out. Businesses and organizations are trying to identify and understand what this means in their workplace.
With these powerful demographic and economic forces, we are undergoing a major social and cultural shift surrounding later life work and retirement. We are in a revolutionary transition and social policy is required to help guide and manage this significant change that will affect established social structures in Canada. New evidence-based policies and programs are required.
Finally, these issues are complex. Collaboration and partnership are required to navigate this emerging later life landscape.
Posted by suzanne on Jan 26, 2016
I coined the term redirection to refer to the new stage of career as individuals transfer their skills, experience and knowledge in a new direction. By pursuing a new occupation, individuals are able to use some of their strengths while learning something new. This provides revitalization.
Attention Northumberland County Residents, please click here: Magnet Redirection Project.
The Redirection Project examines how Canadians in their 50s, 60s and beyond are turning away from traditional notions of ‘retirement’ to seek new employment. There is a radical change taking place with an expansion of our working lives and re-imagining of retirement as the baby boomers enter what has traditionally been viewed as their retirement years.
The Redirection Project is a CERIC-funded national research initiative. The project consists of a national survey (see below), success stories to help inspire others and a documentary film (see the story contest).
The research examines partipants’ experiences with later life work and career development as they shift gears and pursue new types of work.
If you are age 50 or over and seeking new employment (or have already found your new career), you are invited to participate in important research about this topic in order to help others in similar circumstances.
The project has received great coverage in the Globe and Mail.
Posted by suzanne on Nov 30, 2015
A few people have asked me about the term ‘Financial Gerontology’.
As a field, gerontology (the study of aging) consists of many disciplines such as health, psychology, sociology, education, law and political science, to name a few. It is interdisciplinary in nature.
Gerontologists work on both micro and macro levels. Certainly, financial issues come into play at a societal (e.g. socio-economic issues and social policy) level as well as at the individual level (e.g. later life work and income, wealth generation and savings, financial management, etc.).
Financial gerontology is the study of aging and the related financial, business and economic issues. This emerging field developed when this term was first coined in 1988.
Traditionally, the financial aspects of aging have been a bit on the periphery within the study of aging, a part of gerontology and issues of aging, but not in the forefront. Regardless, financial and economic issues, including later life work and employment, poverty and low-income seniors, pension plans and retirement savings, are linked to gerontology and a part of the field of gerontology. These are important personal and public policy issues.
In this low-growth, economically sluggish climate, I predict that all of these issues will become increasingly important to society as well as to gerontologists and the older adults they study and serve.
More on this topic is available here:
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 Apr 9, 2015
Mature individuals have a great deal to offer. Leveraging their experience, abilities and wisdom is critical in our aging society.
In Western society, there is a tendency to overlook mature and experienced workers. They do not receive the respect accorded to them in the past, or in other countries.
Recently, the New York Times published a lovely compendium of experienced masters - individuals who are at the top of their craft. These inspiring people, of mature age, continue to be highly productive older adults who are passionate about the work they do.
Over and above the meaning and purpose work offers for these individuals, their stories convey several key messages. First, their stories highlight their openness to learning and being present in the moment. These are qualities that need to be cultivated. Also evident is the importance of process and the honing of great works over time. Therefore, patience, dedication and self awareness are critical to becoming a master and developing seminal and socially meaningful work. In addition, they are very inspiring. Finally, I wonder if their age matters because it is their talent and their craft that stand out to me.
In any case, masters is a fitting description for them.
LEWIS H. LAPHAM (2014). Older masters at the top of their game, New York Times Magazine.
Posted by suzanne on Nov 28, 2014
Volunteers have a highly valued role in society. Volunteer efforts are very important from coast, to coast, to coast. This is because they help keep communities, non-profit organizations and charities going.
Volunteering is a great way to stay active and also to contribute and give back to the community. It is socially and mentally stimulating and is good for aging well.
I am always pleased to hear about the ways that older adults volunteer in the community, especially the length of time they have been volunteers and the different volunteer roles they hold.
I recently wrote a short piece about volunteering that appears in the Fall/Winter edition of Revera Living Magazine. Please read it here.
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.