Extension of Working Life
Posted by suzanne on May 25, 2016
People are working during later life. This is a new social trend and it is occurring as the Baby Boomers enter their later years. Recent surveys and polls all point to this shift in Canada.
This trend is occurring for many reasons. Some people cannot afford to retire. They need to pay bills. They need to be gainfully employed past traditional retirement age. They have not saved enough to retire. They are in debt. In other words, they cannot retire and live on a fixed income.
CBC Radio’s The Current highlighted the challenges of some of these individuals. Listen to the podcast.
Other people want to continue working. They gain a great deal from their paid work. For example, work provides self worth and self-esteem, mental stimulation, physical activity and social relationships. Some of these individuals might have retirement savings, so income generation is viewed as a benefit but it is not the primary motivation. They might be professionals who are highly educated. They believe they have more to contribute; they are not ready to retire.
When I started conducting the Redirection Project and investigating later life career development, career shift and career extension, I recognized that there is a dichotomy among older workers. Some must work; some want to work. It is great to hear from older adults about their diverse experiences (and the surveys are still available for participation). Both of these experiences are important to understand; hence, I developed the on-line surveys to reflect both sets of circumstances. The fact is that socio-economic circumstances have changed a great deal since the retirement system was developed.
Indeed, paid work during later life is important. Paid work represents many things to individuals. Motivations for later life paid work are complex. This new trend is a big shift from the previous model of retirement. It is a big shift within workplaces as well. Policy to address this social change must be carefully handed.
This is why the qualitative and quantitative datasets collected through the Redirection Project are critical for gaining a better understanding of later life career development and employment experiences and informing social policy, organizational programs and career development practice. For more information about the Redirection Project, please visit www.MyRedirection.com.
Category: Aging, Aging Population, Aging Workforce, Career, Economic Issues, Longevity, New Retirement, Research, The Redirection Project, Work
Redirection: A New Life Stage
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?
Ruth Dempsey from Aging Horizons Bulletin interviewed me about this paper. The interview is here.
Category: Active Engagement, Aging, Aging Population, Career, Life and Living, New Retirement, Work
Storytelling and Narrative
Posted by suzanne on Oct 30, 2012
Storytelling and narrative are powerful methods of communicating ideas and experiences. As human beings, we are immersed in stories.
Stories are how we make and find meaning in the world. Lives are understood through and shaped by stories. We recognize our own stories within the stories of others.
Stories are powerful for both the individuals telling them and for those hearing the story; the personal connection goes both ways. This is evident when you listen to a live reading of a book or hear a really good storyteller recounting a tale. The passion of the storyteller is evident and everyone present is moved and becomes a part of the story.
In our society, some individuals, like journalists, are excellent at finding the story and honing it to convey meaning. Storytelling is so powerful that it is often used to sell products. However, storytelling isn’t just used in the media and in advertising. There is a growing interest in therapeutic medicine and the use of story, with medical narrative becoming more popular as a way of listening to patients and understanding them. This helps medical professionals to absorb and interpret patients’ stories so they can treat the whole person, not just the illness.
Story is also critical within qualitative research. As a researcher, storytelling and narrative are important to me. I like to hear people’s stories and understand their experiences, thoughts and feelings. This phenomenological way of understanding my participants’ experiences and their perspective on issues is very real and vivid for me. People and their lives are beautiful and it is a privilege to be able to listen to people’s incredible stories. In my qualitative research, I try to honour their lives and experiences. I recognize that they have taught me a great deal just by sharing their stories.
Stories have drawbacks within research. They don’t convey the larger context and this can be limiting when trying to understand something. This is why I use a mixed methods approach in my research, combining qualitative and quantitative inquiry.
Nevertheless, I believe that stories will become increasingly important. Stories both engage and connect people. As we deal with new realities and social challenges and embrace the Age of Elderhood, we need to listen more closely to each other’s stories. By valuing and respecting each other, we can work towards common goals. All of this will help us become Age Ready as we create a space for healthy aging.