How do you picture your retirement?
Are you lying in a hammock in your backyard, waiting for an ever-present warm breeze to rock you to sleep? Taking a cross-country trek in a convertible purchased mostly with the proceeds from the sale of your minivan? Lying on a beach drinking a Mai Tai while a resort employee fans you with a giant palm frond?
If you answered yes to any of the above, a recent Associated Press poll puts you in the minority.
About 82 percent of workers 50 and older said, in the poll sponsored by the press association and by the NORC Center for Public Affairs and Research, that it is likely they will work for pay during their retirement. Nearly half of respondents expect to retire later than they at first estimated at age 40 — on average nearly three years later. Those earning less than $50,000 a year, those without health insurance, those caring for young children, men and minorities were more likely to plan for more time on the job.
This hardly comes as a surprise to us, given the tough economic climate, especially for those who have spent their lives working in the service industry or toiling in fields or over heavy machinery. If you want to retire, and live well, it will take more than a day job to do it.
In fact, older adults are now a fast-growing segment of the workforce. People aged 55 and older, according to the Associated Press, are expected in seven years to make up one-fourth of the labor force.
At first, this news seems rather depressing, especially to those who are looking down the stretch of years and years of employment still to come. But we think there is a more upbeat side to this news; retirees no longer fills their days simply with leisure — although it has been well-earned — but instead treat their new-found freedom from alarm clocks and staff meetings as an opportunity to explore a job they’ve always wondered if they could do.
The Associated Press poll found that while answers widely varied, the average age responders said they considered someone “old” was about 72.
We say age is just a number. And we hope, if nothing else, that you will be able to spend a day relaxing beside the ocean, an afternoon belly-laughing as scores of grandchildren treat you like a human jungle-gym or a few mornings spent with your pruning shears — without your phone by your side, with your laptop closed, and not while wearing a uniform.