What will you do in the third act of your life? Will you retire and take it easy, travel — or will you keep working? These days, baby boomers are redefining what retirement means. It isn’t about taking it easy anymore. Boomers are telling Gallup pollsters 60 is the new 40.
“Many seniors are taking the opportunity to work at jobs that allow their creativity to shine through, something different from their career,” says Dr. Debra Esser, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska’s chief medical officer. “They’re saying, ‘I’m not sure what I want to do when I grow into this next stage, but I am pretty sure it will be in a different field.’ ”
A 2017 Gallup study found 24 percent of those age 65 and older are still working full time. Another 14 percent are working at least part time. The reasons they gave for continuing to work varied, but money was not a top consideration. In ranking order:
• To help keep mentally active
• To stay physically active
• To maintain social connections
• To preserve a sense of identity and self-worth
• To earn money
• To have health insurance benefits
Other sources as well suggest it’s best to keep working as long as you can.
CNBC financial adviser Suze Orman says 70 should be the new retirement age. Why? Retire in your 60s and you may run out of money in your 90s. Healthy people in their 60s have a 50 percent chance of living into their 90s. Then there’s the cost of health care. Medicare covers only 70 percent of health care costs.
Let’s face it, the baby boomer generation is a workaholic generation. Adjusting from a work-centered identity to a fully retired life is hard for many to embrace. That same Gallup study found depression and anxiety increased when boomers retired. Forty-seven percent felt guilty about not using their time more productively.
There are plenty of opportunities nowadays to keep on working — side gigs to consider. Money Crashers, a top personal finance blog, suggests:
• Work for your former employer
• Work as a consultant
• Start your own business
• Seek low-stress, part-time work
• Work as a temp
• Retrain for a different career
There’s also a financial consideration to working longer.
Social Security points out the amount of Social Security payment you receive gets larger the longer you delay tapping into it. For example, if you turn 66 this year and your full retirement benefit is $1,300, by waiting to retire until you’re 70, your monthly benefit will increase to $1,681. Financial advisers suggest we should think of Social Security as the best annuity you can get. You’re already enrolled in it, so why not wait to reap all of its benefits?
Unfortunately, the generation entering retirement years is less healthy than previous generations. A recent JAMA Internal Medicine study reported only 13 percent of baby boomers are in excellent health, while their parents’ generation was 32 percent. Thirty-nine percent of today’s baby boomers are obese and 16 percent have diabetes.
When Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska looks at the claims our Medicare Supplement members file, its sees a high percentage of hypertension, or high blood pressure, and diabetes, according to Esser.
“It is so important to make sure we get the right preventive health care at all stages of life,” Esser says. “Seeing your primary care physician and belonging to a patient-centered medical home for your care is one of the best ways to stay healthy as we age.”
If you’re interested in learning more about staying healthy, the Mayo Clinic has 10 lifestyle changes you can make right now.
Ultimately the choice is yours — to work as long as you want, or not. As French author Jules Renard penned, “It’s not how old you are, it’s how you are old.