How to maintain Good Health in Old Age : We are witnessing constant change in the picture and experience of work and retirement all over the world. This situation is likely to continue to change into the future with the aging of the population. Earlier, retirement was considered a static state where the person who retired did not do anything except relaxing or getting busy in squaring up his/her domestic/social obligations. But now, this trend has changed. Majority of the retirees often move between work and retirement stage multiple times.
Virtually, we do have two pictures of work in older age : a positive and enriching picture in which the retirees enjoy their lives fully while liquidating their social obligations as well and another is a gloomy picture in which the retirees meet financial and social challenges. The positive and enriching picture also focuses on the experiences of ageing individuals who are able to continue working if they want to work and are able to work; those who continue working because they are motivated by work rather than pay or new opportunities for growth; and, ageing employees who are appreciated for their skill and education. However, these positive experiences are not shared by all ageing employees who prefer to work after they reach to the age of retirement.
For some, working at older ages is motivated by financial survival rather than personal pleasure. This financial insecurity may have come up due to a work displacement in mid-life or the inability to secure stable and non-precarious employment throughout the life course. Some employees may find it challenging to find new work if they are unskilled or lack up-to-date skills. Many persons may want to continue working but are unable to do so as a result of personal health circumstances or disability, lack of proper facilities at the workplace. Others who want to work may face discrimination in the labour market due to ageism.
There are many reasons to explain why some of us either continue working or decide to return to work even after reaching the pre-defined age. Financial pressures, boredom, or absence of the social environment of work can compel us to undertake some job after retirement. Those who retire and then decide to return to work, feel themselves to be younger at retirement and have been retired for two years or less. If the period exceeds almost two years, the chances of returning to the active life of working may be lesser unless there is some compulsion.
Some employers provide bridge employment to those employees who have retired. The employers wish to have the benefits of their experience and old association with the organization. The retiree gets the option to go back to the pre-retirement job or start a new job after retirement. Bridge jobs can provide a transitional phase for retirees who are not quite ready for full retirement. Additionally, self-employment is growing in popularity among such employees, often after retirement or for those who are displaced prior to retirement but cannot find other employment.
Those retirees who still have the ability to make the choice between working and completely relaxing after retirement prefer returning to work after retirement and they will be the most satisfied and happy. Employers do also prefer to keep older and faithful employees in the labour market by offering them flexible work hours (such as part-time hours or varying shifts), flexible work schedules or flexible work locations (allowing ageing employees to work at home), allowing leaves of absence for their personal responsibilities or health related reasons, and phased retirement options.
How to maintain Good Health in Old Age
Unluckily, there are some retirees who could not have positive experiences with employment in later life and may faced financial challenges in old age as a result of non-steady employment. For some employees the decision to retire is not a choice but one that is forced on them when they are not able to find a new job after being displaced, are required to provided care for their personal or some family member’s health problems. Some employees who become displaced as a result of an employer ceasing to do business, relocating their business to a less costly location, or declaring bankruptcy, or those whose job has been replaced by technology, may face challenges in finding a new job. As a result of this displacement, many face a loss in earnings and are not ready financially for retirement.
The sudden displacement affects their health drastically. It may affect their personal family planning of long term. Many ageing employees are often offered early retirement packages as a way for businesses to reduce expenses; these employees may not want to retire yet feel pressured to do so.
Sometime, we find that some persons who have a history of precarious employment are often forced to work longer as they have not been able to be financially prepared for retirement. Many feel disappointed that they were unable to find secure and permanent jobs. Some individuals who are seeking employment may experience ageism and, as a result, have difficulty finding a new job.
Stereotypes such as ageing employees being slower, unhealthy, unable to learn new skills, and expensive to hire hinder them from re-entering the labour market. When in the job market, ageing individuals develop techniques to help them hide or mask their age on resumes and in interviews. However, many of these techniques are known by those conducting the interviews and result in raising red flags when dates for education are missing. Additionally, ageing employed employees may also face ageism in that they are overlooked for training opportunities or promotions as they are seen as not being worth the investment.
Some employees have to be forced out of the labour market because of their attitude or their productivity. Some females opt for earlier retirement due to their extra dedication to their family demands. However, it is applicable to both genders that the likelihood of experiencing health problems and disability increase with age. Ageing employees who experience health problems or disability with their increasing age may have challenges in sustaining employment although employment is often necessary for these ageing employees on account of their reliance on their health benefits. They may perhaps need this income to meet their financial requirements also. No one can definitely foresee health problems and disability to occur and ageing employees may feel forced to retire before they are ready or are financially prepared to do so.
Defining Ageing Employees
When should we consider the retirement age to start? As on date, there is no universally accepted definition. The definition varies by industry, health status, and appearance. For example, in some trades retirement age starts on the completion of 45 years of active life, while other trades/countries it starts at 58 or more. But now people wish to work longer before having their official retirement. Earlier, early retirement was generally acceptable among ageing employees. By 2015 the average age of retirement had reached to 63 years and this is expected to continue to increase for both male and female employees.
As people are working longer, the number of ageing employees in the labour market will increase, especially as population aging continues. Gender also influences the age of retirement as women, on average, retire earlier than men because of their natural physical strength. Generally the people prefer for working longer, whether it is by choice or necessity but it has become possible as on an average life expectancy has now increased and people have better health. However, our body needs some relaxation and it must be put to relax for some time after a long period of active and regular life to break the monotony.
Why Should We Work, Why Should We Opt For Retirement, And Why Should We Return To Work?
With the advent of civilization, our society learnt to earn the livelihood by undertaking physical and mental exercises for the sake of getting money and purchase power to meet the basic and social requirements and for this purpose, we work strenuously till our physique and mental energy help us. At one point of time, we wish to give up our regular work, relax/retire or return to work again. There are certain reasons to be defined for such wish. They may be like as below:
1. How to maintain Good Health in Old Age : Financial Security
Our financial requirements can lead us to decide to work, retire or return to work even after opting for retirement. A decision to retire can take place when an employee feels comfortable with the financially stability for the transition after active and regular life.
Opting for retirement is feasible for those who are financially ready. It means that they can enjoy the retirement without worrying about financial requirements. Retirement allows individuals an opportunity to try new things by providing them with more time to pursue activities and interests. However, some individuals may realize after retiring that they are not financially secure and may return to work.
2. Non-financial Reasons to Return to Work
One can decide to retire due to the characteristics of a particular job or other personal circumstances. For those who do not enjoy their work, retirement can provide a viable option to leave the job and opt for other job/place. Additionally, some ageing employees may feel pushed into retirement due to pressures from their employers to retire due to lower productivity on account of ageing factor.
However, after retiring, some persons may realize that they miss many aspects of working and decide to return to work whether that can be different trade or at different place other than the earlier one. The social attributes of work in particular, may be missed by retirees, which could result in a return to work at some point of time.
3. Choice Matters
Why an individual decides to retire or to return to work after retirement depends upon the personal choice of that individual. If choice is there, it makes easier for the individual to adjust to the changes that occur once retired or during the return to work after retirement. Those who do not have a choice in their retirement decisions are found typically less healthy and happy.
4. Bridge Employment
Many employees get engaged in what is called bridge employment after their initial retirement. Bridge employment is facilitated by those employers who wish to take benefit of the experiences of the retiring employees. Some individuals take on a new job that is different from their previous work while others will continue at the same place of employment but have more flexibility as it was a personal choice to keep working past retirement. While more retirees transition to bridge employment rather than retirement, bridge employment is a transitory state and not one that ageing employees will stay in for long periods of time. Bridge employment as a choice rather than a necessity as bridge employment is more common among ageing employees with university education, higher earnings, and an employer-sponsored pension plan. Bridge employment plays positive role in keeping up the health of the retiring employees and not-affected-much.
5. Other Factors Affecting the Decision to Retire
The decision to retire may be more challenging for some individuals based on their occupation and the identity they take from their occupation. For example, academics physicians advocates and teachers tend to have a strong work identity and, as a result, have a challenging time retiring because they feel as though their lives have no value or meaning without work. Retirement for academics like physicians, advocates and teachers is more than just a transition because their job means more to them than simply being something they perform.
Leaving the work voluntarily is a difficult decision for the physicians advocates and teachers, who feel a sense of duty to continue working after having so many years of education and work experience. When life is so consumed with work, there is a concern about what people will do in retirement once this large focus is no longer present. The academics were unsure about how to fill their days if they were not working. Rather than viewing retiring as a binary status of either working or not working, many felt that their retirement should involve a transition phase as they move away from the regular work. Retirement seems more passive to them and a transition is something they have control over and can do at their own pace.
Another trend for employment after retirement is self-employment. The decision to pursue self-employment may not be by choice, rather, there may be no alternative jobs for the retiree who wants to continue working. Ageing individuals who were self-employed reported that the fulfillment they receive from work drove them to continue working, more so than did ageing employees in career jobs or bridge jobs. Self-employment may also be the result of poor employment prospects due to barriers such as ageism. Consulting in their area of expertise is a way to utilize their experience to their advantage in the workplace while avoiding some of the stereotypical assumptions that employers have about them like ageing employees require higher salaries and benefits). Since the decision to become self-employed is not by choice, frustration and resentment direct at their experiences with ageism can be often expressed and resulted in self-doubt and identity-related consequences.
Ageing self-employed employees are also more likely to work longer than are ageing employees engaged in waged labour. Individuals working in self-employment have a greater attachment than those who are in paid employment due to availability of flexible working hours.
6. Age at First Retirement and Time Spent in Retirement
The likelihood to retire increases with age and after 60 years of age the likelihood increases more sharply. While only one-tenth of the population gets retired at age 58, about three quarters of the population wish to get retired by 65 years of age.
But personal attitude of an individual plays an important role in the decision to return to work. Younger retirees are more likely to return to work after retirement whereas ageing retirees remain less likely to return after retirement. Once retired many retirees do not stay retired and return to work. The majority of those who return to work after retiring do so within the first two years. It has been found in a research that within the first ten years of retirement, 24% of men and 21% of women had returned to work. Once a retiree returns to work, women typically work an additional three years while men typically work an additional five to six years. However, most people who return to work after retirement leave the workplace after one year. The longer that retirees are away from the workplace, the less likely they are to return to work. Further, those retirees who have higher levels of education are more likely to return to work after their retirement.
7. Employment Experiences for Ageing Women
The retirement experiences of women have changed over the last several decades as more women are becoming employed because of the better facilities. The rate of employment for women has steadily increased since 1976. Women are working longer and in 2008, 6.8% of women over 65 were still working according to McDonald & Donahue, 2011. But despite being more likely to work, women still continue to earn less and work fewer hours due to their own weaknesses or gender difference by the some employers.
The experiences of younger female baby boomers will likely be very different from that of ageing female baby boomers. The younger female baby boomers typically have higher levels of education, marry later and delay childbearing, have fewer children, are more likely to divorce and be lone parents, and less likely to have a pension plan through their employment. These life experiences have an effect on their employment trajectories and how they may experience retirement. Retirement savings of female baby boomers differ from those of male baby boomers because females typically have lower incomes, are more likely to be lone parents, may have risky portfolios for their retirement plans, and typically have less knowledge about financial funds and savings.
8. Keeping Ageing Employees On Work
There are several ways that employers attract new ageing employees or retain their ageing employees. Flexible work hours, such as the ability to work part-time or to work in different shifts, flexible work locations (for example, they may work at the office or at home), they can share the jobs, they can have leaves of absence (e.g. for care or health related reasons), and phased retirement are more attractive to ageing employees. It can help them to ensure financial security even thereafter.
Flexible workplaces are more beneficial for retirees. Ageing employees who have access to flexible hours at work are more likely to continue working rather than retiring. Ageing employees who experience constraints at work are more likely to retire. Further, those who leave their employment because of such constraints do not feel easy to retire completely. They may be forced into retirement because of the challenges faced when seeking employment at ageing age. Phased retirement may be a good alternative for many ageing employees who are unsure about a quick and swift exit from the work.
9. Limitations to work after retirement
There are certain limitations faced by the retirees who want to work in later life. These limitations typically come up for the individuals who experience employment disruptions throughout the normal life course, for those who take time off work to provide care, or for those who experience disabilities or health problems. All of these employment transitions can affect the ability to find employment and stay employed in later life. Displaced employees often face ageism and may experience additional problems when they try to return to work. A forced, unplanned, or involuntary retirement may occur for individuals who face barriers to employment in mid or later life or who have not been employed continuously throughout the life course.
10. Displaced Employees
Changing economic times over the past decades have resulted in many employees experiencing displacement. Displaced employees are at risk of experiencing a loss in earnings which could affect them throughout the life course. Additionally, statistics that include retirement data may actually include displaced employees who gave up trying to find employment and use the label “retired” rather than unemployed, due to the stigma associated with unemployment. Ageing employees are at a high risk of being laid off. This presents an interesting picture as it emphasizes that longer tenure may not protect a employee in the case of a layoff. When ageing employees are laid off they tend to have a more challenging time finding re-employment and will often earn less at their new employment than at their previous employment.
Ageing displaced employees suffer more than younger displaced employees, as younger displaced employees have more time to earn back the money they may have initially lost when changing careers. Additionally, younger displaced employees are also more likely to find a new job that pays similar to or more than their previous job. But there is a significant loss in wages after displacement. The loss in wages is higher for ageing employees who held long tenured positions. Risk of displacement exists for all employees, even those who have stable employment records. Males between the ages of 36 and 55 suffer the most adverse impact on earnings after displacement.
How to maintain Good Health in Old Age
11. Involuntary Retirement
Once prolonged unemployment is paired with an encounter with ageism, negative mental health issues are magnified and are compounded by the decline in financial stability from being unable to secure employment. When individuals who are 50 years of age or older become laid off at work they are at a higher risk of retiring earlier than anticipated. The decision to retire early is often involuntary. Involuntary retirement is a classification that can be applied to individuals who have been without work within the past 12 months and who are over the age of 50 . A forced or unplanned retirement could occur because it takes a long time for ageing individuals to find employment after being displaced at work. Individuals aged 55 to 64 spend an average of 29 weeks unemployed and those 65 years of age and older spend 27 weeks unemployed . The longer ageing individuals are unemployed, the more likely they are to start collecting retirement pensions. Displaced employees may face barriers to re-employment such as the inability to find a suitable job, lack of job openings, and lack of opportunities due to outdated knowledge and skills.
Organizations that are faced with the need to downsize their employees will often offer early retirement incentives to their ageing employees. Downsizing and offering early retirement packages were more common among companies with 500 or more employees. Financial incentives to retire early have an effect on an ageing employee’s decision to retire. In many cases it may push the ageing employee to retire much earlier than planned. While offering incentives for early retirement is common, most companies do not provide work incentives that favour the needs of an ageing employee. It appears easier to use ageing employees as a way to decrease labour supply.
12. Precarious Employment
Ageing employees may become trapped in precarious or nonstandard work. However, this type of work can be both positive and negative for ageing employees depending on the reasons for working in nonstandard or precarious work. Precarious employment typically involves limited benefits, job insecurity, low wages, lack of access to pension plans, and higher risks of poor health. Although precarious or nonstandard jobs are often negative, some ageing employees may find these jobs more positive if they occur at the end of their employment trajectory, in order to ease them into retirement.
Problems occur when ageing employees have a long history of precarious employment, as opposed to it occurring solely in their later working lives. Those with a long history of precarious employment often lack access to employer pension plans and face challenges saving money for retirement, as most of their net earnings are used for day-to-day survival and affect their health continuously.
Some individuals have worked at multiple precarious jobs throughout their life course. In these precarious jobs the employees often report feeling a lack of control over their work life, and, as result, often report a dislike for their jobs. This lack of control was emphasized when working at jobs that require them to be on call as they could never be sure when they would be working. Many old employees who have a history of precarious employment feel disappointed with their life as they are not more financially secure and feel their careers should be at their peak rather than at their lowest.
Ageing employees in an organization are always at risk of experiencing ageism, either at work or when they are seeking employment. Ageism is “a process of systematic stereotyping of and discrimination against people because they are old”. Ageism can occur when others assume someone is old on the basis of their physical appearance or their chronological age. There are many stereotypes about ageing employees, both positive and negative, that can affect their treatment by employers and co-employees in the workplace. Positive attitudes have been found with respect to characteristics such as mentoring, wisdom, reliability, dedication, lower turnover rates, and respect.
There are some negative assumptions too that can influence ageing employees’ ability to sustain employment at older ages or to secure employment once displayed. Examples of negative stereotypes about ageing employees include the perception that they are not as productive as younger employees, lack an interest in or ability to learn new technology, and have higher turnover rates. Some ageing employees will internalize the ageist views of society by believing that they are losing their proficiency, are useless to the company, or are unable to keep up to date with new technology. Once many of these ageist views are internalized, ageing employees often experience identity degradation causing further challenges in their search for employment. The perception of ageist communication at work can lead to devaluation and lower self-esteem. The ageist stereotypes were transmitted at both the micro and macro levels at work. But ageist communications at work cannot be ignored.
14. Disability and Health
For some ageing employees, the ability to continue working in later life may not be attainable due to health reasons. The likelihood of experiencing chronic health conditions increases with age and is more common among ageing women. Therefore, there is a growing concern that as more people work longer and longer, they will also start to face multiple health problems. Aging with chronic health conditions or experiencing chronic health conditions when older, may result in barriers for ageing employees who wish to remain employed. The most common health problems faced by ageing employees include: hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, back problems, migraines, and thyroid conditions. Some of these chronic conditions make finding and maintaining employment more challenging. Ageing employees with heart disease are at the highest risk of leaving work. Ageing employees with migraines or a thyroid condition were at the lowest risk of leaving work. Typically, ageing employees who were female and had lower educational levels were most likely to stop working, especially when age was combined with chronic health conditions.
How to maintain Good Health in Old Age
Ageing employees with lower levels of education may be working at jobs where they have more stress and less autonomy. This makes work challenging when combined with a chronic health condition and makes continuing to work difficult or impossible. Disability presents another interesting story for ageing employees. The timing of the disability will affect employment trajectories as individuals who have disabilities at younger ages will often have different experiences than individuals who become disabled in midlife or later life. Disability is often experienced as temporary and may not have long lasting implications. Disability may also be experienced in stages or episodically, which also has an impact on how disability can influence employment trajectories and transitions. Individuals with a disability also have a weaker attachment to the labour market and many are unable to work. Individuals with disabilities are more likely to be underemployed and often experience marginalization at work. Employment becomes more challenging to sustain the longer an individual experiences a disability. Individuals with a disability may need to take time off work to address their health conditions and are over twice as likely to take extended health leaves, which often resulted in lower pay.
Individuals with a disability are also at higher risk of involuntary retirement. Involuntary retirement, regardless of disability status, can have negative consequences on financial security in old age. Those employees who have more severe or multiple disabilities increases the likelihood of involuntary retirement. Despite the fact that ageing employees with disabilities are more likely to experience unemployment or involuntary retirement, there is a need for them to stay in the labour market. Ageing individuals with disabilities need to continue working to ensure they have enough savings for retirement. Many are at risk of experiencing poverty if they are unable to sustain employment, however, they can only continue working if they receive accommodations in the workplace.
While discussing many factors giving us a positive and enriching picture of working in later life and a more negative and discouraging picture, which highlights the challenges that ageing employees may face when they are not currently working but want or need to work. For ageing employees who want to work and are able to work, employment in later life can be a very rewarding experience. The rewards are both financial and non-financial. The ability to engage in work longer can help ageing employees better prepare for retirement, provide them with social opportunities to engage with other employees, allow them to feel as though they are still able to participate in society, and gain self-fulfillment from their employment. However, for ageing employees who become displaced in midlife or later or who have taken time off work to provide care or who have disabilities or health problems, it may be challenging for them to remain in the labour market and if they do leave the labour market it can be challenging to return. Without access to employment these ageing individuals may struggle financially to survive and worry about how they can sustain themselves in old age.
Those retirees who take the challenge sportingly to work or relax as per the individual circumstances they have can keep up their health but those who feel depressed with the outcome of their retirement whether that is mandatory or imposed one may badly affect their health too. It is therefore suggested that one must accept the challenge and take necessary action as be warranted to get the active life again by exploring their own resources and energies. In case we do not activate ourselves again after retirement, it may be possible for us that we may not get sufficient care from those who are expected to do. We need to be careful for ourselves, even after we retire.
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