Live to Work

Some retirees say they get enjoyment out of remaining employed and making a difference

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Now, there’s a whole new group of seniors finding happiness through work. “I’ve practiced law for 60 years,” says 82-year-old Nick Midey, head of a prestigious legal firm. “My doctor tells me if an active guy likes me stops working, they often die within six months, so I never plan to retire. I love my work. I enjoy meeting and helping people. I never want to give this up.” While most lawyers complain about how stressful the job is, Midey says that stress and exacerbations are all part of the package. He noted that four years ago he had heart surgery and was confined to his home for a few months to recover. “I nearly went crazy. I read everything in sight and easily tired of TV. I couldn’t wait to go back to work.” He said it was during this recovery period that he decided he’d never retire.

A growing trend among seniors reveals that many may leave their old company or career behind, then begin a new career and remain a vital part of the workforce. Recent studies report that active seniors who continue to learn and utilize their mental capabilities do not see a dramatic decrease in abilities. Today’s seniors (defined by AARP as more than 50) seem to be finding challenging work that they are passionate about. Many seek a job that makes them feel as if they are making a significant difference. They want to add value to society and help others. It’s been proven that work activity often keeps a person more youthful and more vital. Knowing that they have important work to do can be an inspiring motivator for older workers who often hurry to get well more quickly if illness does strike. Many seniors cite work as their reason to go on living when faced with life tragedies such as the death of a spouse or a child.

Society no longer views retirement as a mandatory state. But, many individuals who continue to remain in the workforce may choose to slow down their schedules or lower stress levels in order to incorporate other pleasures into their lifestyle.

The truth is, many of the upcoming baby boomers will not just want to stay home. You might choose to leave the whole career and profession behind, looking for something to do just for fun. A hobby you turn into a business. An interest in painting or music might find you employed in a museum or becoming the church choir director. The new career might come with a salary, or it may not.

Many working 60- and 70-year-olds say the secret to a happy life is knowing they have something important to do.