Why Senior Citizens Want to Stay in the Workplace

Most people think of a “senior” or a retired person as someone who sits around in the back yard snoozing on and off or perhaps hitting the golf course for a round with his retired friends. After all, most retirees have spent decades rising and shining every day and working there as$$es off to provide for themselves and their families and deserve some time to relax and have some fun in their “golden years”. And in most cases, they really do deserve a chance to just hang out and not carry the weight on their shoulders they have had for most of their lives.

Senior citizen jobs are becoming more important & prevalent as retirees go back to work. Here's some of the reasons why they want to stay in the workplace.

But a not-so-funny thing has happened to many older people these days. Many of them have found out that sitting around in retirement isn’t all that it was cracked up to be. There are a lot of reasons for that, so today’s post is something I can write about firsthand and with absolute certainty: why senior citizens want to stay in the workplace.

Has 70 Become the New 50?

In the year 2017, what do you think the age of a senior really is? Would it surprise you to learn that the answer to that question can vary dramatically? Some might say 50 and up, while others may answer 80+ depending on just who you ask. The reason for that is a bit muddled. There are so many variations in lifestyles of older people that it is really difficult to determine a person’s age just by looking. That is a good thing for many as they spend lots of time and money working at keeping themselves as active and involved as possible.

Many of those people just never do actually retire no matter how many birthdays they have celebrated. They may not be working in the same job that they have had for years and years, but who is it today that can say they have stayed long term in any job?

In many cases, people retire from one job and then after a brief respite, pursue another. Like a bee is drawn to pollen, working everyday becomes a habit and some retired folks just can’t stop that cycle.

Health Concerns

Having the desire to continue to work or to postpone retirement is very much dependent on other issues besides your age. For one, in order to work, even a part-time job, you must have some degree of good health. The type of job that you might seek will vary of course depending on your physical and mental health, but it is a factor if you are not able to keep your work commitments because of it being poor.

When I retired it was because of my own health problems. I say retired because I did have to leave my job due to suffering a heart attack in 2012. I was “only” 62, and I never intended to stop working at that age. The health issues required me to stop and rebuild my strength and I hoped at some point I would be able to return to work. It wasn’t as easy as I thought however.

Financial Needs

Another factor is financial security. Financial security for seniors today is written about and talked about an awful lot. The articles and blogs (this one as much as any of them) writing about saving and planning your finances for retirement are endless  Many people talk about retiring long before they reach the traditional age of 65, 66, or 67 and plan “retirement” at age 50 or 40 or even 30! In order to feel any comfort with that, you must be concerned about money and the cost of living.

It is easy to see that each year it becomes a little more expensive to make ends meet let alone live in the same lifestyle you have when you are working and earning an income from it. Combine that fact with the threat of losing the support from Social Security and the increase in lifespan to on average nearing 80 years, and it’s pretty easy to see the challenges. If you throw in poor health factors, your desire or need to work as a senior may really be in question.

Not being financially prepared for retirement is one major reason why today’s seniors are looking to rejoin the workforce. Not being able to afford healthcare as you age is very scary. No one should have to make decisions as to whether or not to buy medicines or see a doctor because they can’t afford it.

Self-Esteem and Your Job

We aren’t really what the old expression says, “you are what you eat”. We are what we do! Our jobs really do define us and give us a sense of purpose and a feeling of self-worth and self-esteem. It’s really important to us. If you have ever been unemployed (and I am pretty sure that most of us have had that experience at least once) you will fully understand those feelings.

The idea that when you retire you get a bit bored and need something to keep you busy, while true, isn’t the biggest motivator for people to decide to find a job, at least not in my opinion. After contributing something and being productive every day for years and years, sitting in front of the TV watching “Green Acres” isn’t very fulfilling. For me, and many others, the need to feel like I am doing something important is deep and wide. It’s the very reason why I started writing here. I couldn’t lift 50 lb. bags or stand on my feet for 8 hours a day any longer, but I had a brain full of ideas and experiences that I thought could help others and I needed to make that happen.

Some people find that volunteer work fills the need, while others want to pursue a profession or even a new business. Whatever form that takes, it’s important to find a purpose.

Baby Boomers are Still Here

Those of us born between 1946 and 1964, the 76 million Baby Boomers, have been the center of our society for the past several decades. They are slowly fading, true. With the oldest ones now in their 70’s (the new 50’s of course!) and the youngest in their early 50’s, they will continue to be a factor for decades.

Having said that, the question is what will happen to them in the next phase of their lives? There is a great need for the experience and wisdom of this group to be a part of the 21st century and the attempt to solve some of the problems humanity is facing. There is also the great need to contribute and not just fade away.

Business has recognized the value of “senior workers” and is hiring them all the time these days. It may be part-time or full-time. It may be work from home. It may be mentoring and training younger workers. It may even be as a senior intern. All of those opportunities exist today as well as self-employment, freelancing and independent consulting work. This phase of life is often referred to as “the second act”. There is also the kind of thing I’m doing, blogging, which can fulfill the needs and earn some money too.

Are you planning to retire from the workforce? Have you financially prepared for it? What do you plan to do when you aren’t fighting traffic or working at a desk 50+ hours a week any longer? Will you seek a new “second act” or consider part-time work?


  1. Emily @ JohnJaneDoe

    My parents were at 2 ends of the spectrum. Mom retired at 60 so she could travel, pursue hobbies, volunteer, etc. That worked out great for her, especially as she died at 70. Dad still works at 77, and can’t imagine retiring.

    I didn’t really feel like I would retire early, but circumstances made it an available option for us and it’s been fun. That said, I still work in winter doing taxes, and Jon has a lot on his plate with the rental properties. We like the flexibility of our current lifestyle, but it’s nice to have some work on our plates.

    1. It sounds like you have a nice balance of work and time for you and your family. For some, the idea of being able to pursue just leisure activities is their goal. But I think that so many of us today are used to being busy with work that we probably won’t give it up 100% unless it becomes a health issue. Thanks so much for your comments, Emily.

    2. Lance @ My Strategic Dollar

      I like your approach. Based on my experiences, I feel that the majority of people who work that are at retirement age, do so because of the cost of healthcare without workplace insurance. Hopefully, we can really work on that as a nation.

  2. My Dad retired as soon as he could, realizing how short life can be. He didn’t want to be working all the way to his grave. That said, my parents have always been extremely busy people. He does woodwork, gardens, and is always outside breaking a sweat. He gets his fulfillment from other sources, which I think is wonderful, too!
    Especially because he managed money so well his whole life.

    1. It’s really terrific when you can keep active doing the things you most enjoy. I often wish I had a skill to make things because I would spend my free time doing that, like your dad. If your finances are in order, then as long as you’re fulfilling a purpose, the financial part isn’t a priority. Thanks for sharing, Jamie.

  3. My mom retired at 61; things had changed at work and she never worked for the money anyway. She ended up with a chronic illness in her late 60s and died at 75. My dad worked a fulltime job and a part time job until he was 65, when he quit the fulltime job. He kept the part time for another 3-4 years until he had health problems and then, when he recovered, my mom got sick. Dad lived to be 85.

    My husband is 61, I’m 56. We have a daughter in eighth grade in a Catholic high school. We don’t expect to be able to retire until she is out of high school. After that, we’ll have to look at the portfolio compared to the college costs. My husband may be able to quit then, or he may go another year or two to boost the portfolio. I used to wonder what I’d do if I retired, but lately I’m getting sick of my job, and my husband feels the same way.

    1. Sometimes we do get caught in an occupation that we just don’t enjoy. Having to work to support your family is a requirement for just about everybody, but that doesn’t mean that there won’t come a time when you can do something else and pursue your own personal interests, whether an occupation or something else. I hope that will happen for you and your family in the near future. Thanks for commenting and sharing your story, RAnn.

  4. This is interesting! I haven’t thought about how work in retirement–creative, 21st century work–could help solve some of the unique issues this generation (and as a result, our entire country) faces. Most constructive post I’ve read on a difficult topic!

  5. Mel

    I understand the self-esteem and your job. I always feel like my life is off when I’m not stage managing somewhere. It’s such a huge part of my identity. The only good thing about learning that now is that I realize I need to make sure I build up other aspects of my identity too in case something happens to the stage managing. Because it could.

  6. I think we all want to feel useful as we age. If the person loves where they work I’d say go for it. I don’t think though either one of our bodies could have held up with the jobs we both had so I’m glad we could retire. We keep busy with grandchildren, gardening, and volunteering. I think that’s the most important thing. Now if we had to work that would be different we would find something we could do!

  7. What do you think it’s best if we’ll end up living much more and having such an active life every day while working, really retiring will probably come really late.
    How do you think retirement will look like in 30 years from now on?

    1. It’s hard to predict exactly what retirement will look like in our future that far out. But I could guess that we’ll be living even longer and that means you’ll need more financial support to be comfortable in retirement. Hopefully, the average person will be better prepared than people are today for that future.

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