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Why You May Want to Keep Working

By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

Reduced or non-existent pensions, insufficient Social Security benefits, skyrocketing costs and tanking investments represent just a few reasons many people continue working past retirement age these days.

But if your finances are solid, it doesn’t mean you must stop working just because you have a certain number of candles on your birthday cake.

Consider these reasons to keep working, whether as a paid employee, consultant or a volunteer.

“The connections you make at work and being part of something is good for your wellbeing,” said Triciajean Jones, director of the Ontario County Office for the Aging.

Whether it’s continuing to work, or developing means to mentor, consult or freelance, Jones believes that the “ability to give back is good for your wellbeing on both sides. Those close to retirement haven’t stopped in 45 years. What makes them think they’re going to drop work and pick up something else? Whatever is purposeful for you, it’s good to stay active. It feels good to be needed.”

She values the experience and skills older workers have to offer and views them as a resource.

Even part-time work is helpful in helping you stay sharp and feel useful while still allowing enough time to pursue hobbies, interests and volunteering. One example is a program in which Jones recruits those familiar with Medicaid and Medicare to counsel people about the programs.

Mary Bistrovich, director of Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at RIT, said that many retirees become involved with leading Osher programs because they feel like they lack that sense of community that their workplace had offered them. Retiring severed those relationships and curtailed their daily schedule.

“They’re not as mentally challenged as they were,” she said. “They might not be moving as much. When people come here, it’s a peer learning and teaching program.”

Teaching a class at Osher is not a long commitment. They range from one to 10 weeks and center on a topic or interest in which the leader is well-versed. Bistrovich finds that class leaders enjoy sharing about their specialty with others because they feel like they’re still connected to it.

“It gets people out of the house and into a situation where they can make friends,” she added. “Many people say about Osher, ‘It’s the reason I get out of bed in the morning.’ Otherwise, it’s too easy to be complacent. It gives you a sense of purpose.”

Quite a few Osher members and peer class leaders work part-time or provide pro bono work in their specialty, along with volunteering locally.

“They really try to keep as active as possible. That keeps one healthy,” Bistrovich said.