essays

The 65+ Club

Bob DylanRemember when you thought age 65 is when the fun begins? Well, maybe fun is the wrong word. Remember when most baby boomers thought age 65 is when they would retire? Seems like it was just yesterday but it was more like 10 or 15 years ago.

Things have changed (thanks to Bob Dylan for that line). And the more things change, the more we all need to adapt. We’re living longer for starters, and that makes it less practical to stop working at age 65. If we’re going to live well into our nineties we need to keep working to pay for that extra time. Plus, all the research indicates that the longer we stay mentally and physically engaged, the healthier we’ll be in both mind and body.

Whether it’s because we can’t afford to retire or we just want to stay engaged with our work, it has become an accepted fact that age 65 is no longer the cutoff point. Baby boomers seem to have readily adjusted to this fact of life, but what about the rest of society?

Employers are recognizing the advantages and disadvantages of older workers. We have experience but maybe are not as open to new ideas and methods. You don’t have to pay as much, but our healthcare costs are higher. Working for younger managers can older workerbe challenging, but boomers are proving resilient when it comes to keeping up with technology and adapting to new ideas. Boomers are less about reaching the top of the heap and more about contributing something useful to the team, and that’s a good thing for any organization.

In the end, I think baby boomers will just be grateful if they can continue to be paid a decent wage for being a productive worker who still has skills and experience that are valued by their employers. We’re all going to have to make adjustments to accommodate the changes brought on by longer lifespans. Someday, today’s 30 and 40-year old managers will be facing the same issue. By that time, it may be common for people to live into their one-hundreds, and the accepted age for retirement might be 75. What goes around, comes around, so my advice to younger managers is be kind to your boomer employees, and one day some young boss will be kind to you.

Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept. He's written a mystery novel, which therefore makes him a pre-published author.

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