Not that long ago, retirement meant leaving work, fully, by age 65 to live off a pension and Social Security in your golden years. But retirement is looking much different for baby boomers, and it will likely mean something else entirely to future generations.
Here are four reasons the face of retirement is changing today:
- Longer life spans. People are working longer today because they’re living longer. In the 1930s, men lived, on average, until age 58. Most women could expect to live to just 62. Today, life expectancy in the United States is at a record high. The average American can expect to live to 78.8 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- Improved health and health care. Modern medicine and a better understanding of what makes a healthy lifestyle—sensible diets, regular exercise—have reduced the prevalence of disease and other ailments that previously left people incapacitated. As a result, many more people are able to live relatively normal, active lives.
- Active retirees. Because of longer life spans and better health, many Americans are finding they want to do something constructive with their remaining years, whether that’s raising grandchildren, launching a second career, or volunteering in the community. Research from the Aegeon Center for Longevity and Retirement found that, among adults 55 and older, 51 percent wanted to continue working until 65 or later. Among those adults, the majority—59 percent—said they wanted to continue working to keep active and alert.
- Flexible employers. Baby boomers’ new approach to retirement as well as workforce needs are persuading employers to rethink the way they handle retirement. Many businesses are finding ways to keep older employees on part time or in mentorship roles. Some are transitioning older workers into positions that are less physically demanding. However, the Aegeon study found that employers could be doing more. Many don’t provide retraining options or continued healthcare coverage, and 31 percent still provide no transitional support.