You’re never too old to work

Everyone’s life is different. Not only do we all experience different strains on our bodies but also on our mental

Everyone’s life is different. Not only do we all experience different strains on our bodies but also on our mental states and sense of soul. Different people have easier or harder lives and jobs in relation to others that affect how you age.

If we’re lucky we get to love what we do for a living. Perhaps you might not want to retire, giving up the skills you’ve spent a lifetime acquiring and have a sense that you still have so much to offer to the world. Maybe you’d be quite bored not working.

With people living longer, retirement ages are edging higher and governments are drawing back old-age pensions and medical benefits for senior citizens. Because of this, we often need to work longer to make enough money to live a good-quality life in our later years.

In 2015, Florence ‘Seesee’ Rigney was declared America’s oldest working registered nurse. She’d spent over six decades working in hospital operating theatres rooms and at the age of 90, she still worked two days a week. She had no plans to retire because she’d just completed her CPR update.

The obstetrician and gynaecologist Dr W.G. Watson was America’s oldest practising physician, still delivering babies and making house calls to his patients at 100 years old, before his death at 102 in 2012. His patients spanned five generations and he delivered more than 80,000 children.

Irving Khan was a broker on Wall Street during the great economic crash of 1929. He saw a situation where shares could double or halve in value within a couple of days. He developed the field of value investing where stocks are studied very carefully over a long period of time before purchase, which the successful financier Warren Buffet followed. After founding the billion-dollar Wall Street brokerage house of Khan and Sons, Irving continued to work in his New York office three days a week until he was 109 years old.

Going to work provides an important social aspect in that colleagues, some of whom become friends, form a large part of your life and give you social exposure that you might not be getting if you’ve shut yourself away, waiting to die. I know I love going to work and meeting people each day. It feeds my soul and keeps me in my heart space.

Agnes Zhelesnik started working five days a week as kindergarten teacher at the age of 81. She’d been a homemaker her entire adult life and then spent years playing endless games of bridge until her husband died and she got a job. In January of this year, aged 102, she was still working 35 hours a week, teaching young children at a private school in New Jersey how to cook and sew.

Another example of the benefits of interacting with others through work is Loren Wade, 103, who still works at Wal-Mart in Kansas in the US five days a week where he waters plants, greets customers and runs the cash register. He tried retirement in his 60s but grew bored, so applied for the job at Wal-Mart in 1983 where he’s remained since.

Hopefully by the time you’ve reached 60, you’ve worked out that time is very precious and perhaps you want to make money by doing something you really like, rather what you might have to do to make money. It doesn’t really matter what work you do, as long as it makes you happy.

What about you? Are you still working? What do you love about it?

  1. I have NO retirement plans. I am one of the lucky ones who do something I just love for a living. I am a Sports Massage Therapist. I will slow down a little and have more breaks later when I need to, but I do not want to retire. I hope to be able to have at least part time to work for as long as I live and stay healthy.

  2. I am 55 and just retired. Life’s too short to work forever. I am far from waiting to die which is quite a ridiculous statement. People who work until they are 100 are obviously very lonely or greedy. How is there going to be jobs for the young ones if everyone stays working? Most retirees travel have hobbies enjoy time with their families and Grandchildren and are busier than ever. I go to the gym five days a week to keep fit. I travel and I am moving near a ski field in Victoria Australia where I am taking up cross country skiing and starting yoga. I intend to enjoy my husbands company. Have my only Grandchild to stay and do all the things I couldn’t do because I had to go to work. Looking forward to family and fried coming to visit me in my new house we are having built.

    • Colin  

      Obviously you think I’m very greedy Sue, as I’m certainly not lonely. How sad that you’ve left it until 55 to enjoy your husband, your hobbies and your grandchild…..I hope things improve fir you in retirement. I’m 70, I still work part time and also volunteer in Aged Care a few days a week. I’ve travelled a lot and I’m glad I didn’t leave my travelling until later in life – bug I do hope you can catch up Sue.
      Everyone is different Sue…thankfully.

  3. Rhonda  

    I am an Australian carer in the U.K. and at 73 love the work that I do and the interesting people I care for. I am one of those unlucky folk who lost everything in the economic downturn and am now paying off a home in the U.K. In my work my goal is to leave people better than I find them and this gives me a wonderful sense of satisfaction to improve and make a difference to the elderly that I care for. I have great variety in my work and I find it very stimulating. Retiring?
    I can’t see that happening! My goal has always been Fit, Active, Healthy and Wealthy all the way to 100 and beyond!
    I am still working on the last one 🙂 My youngest son has a phrase he often uses ‘Loving Life’ and I couldn’t agree more!

  4. Vince WEBSTER  

    All too often in this day & age the preference will go the Younger worker. there STILL seems to be bias against a “Willing ” but person over the age of 50? who is willing to work BUT just cannot find “ONgogoing employment ???? When all to often it the older person who is “More willing & has more experience ” Often the Younger person who si NOT as committed to the committed everyday tasks and activities of the employer.

    • Susan Gabriel.  

      B&Q the do-it-yourself store in the UK regognised that after giving young people the opportunity to work for them without much sucess, they then employed older people who put themselves out to give customer sevrvice and turn up for work even if they’re feeling low.

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