What Should I Do Now?

A mature woman and her granddaughter

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Many people look forward to retirement and plan to do all the things they couldn't do while attending to the demands of a job. Other people look forward to retirement, but do not view it as a time of leisure. They instead look at this life transition as a time to explore a new career. This article will address the issues faced by retirees or those approaching retirement. It will cover such topics as finding employment as a mature worker, educational opportunities for seniors, and volunteer opportunities.


In April 2000, President Bill Clinton, signed the Senior Citizens Freedom to Work Act of 2000. This bill eliminates the Retirement Earnings Test, which limited the income a senior citizen could earn without a reduction or loss of Social Security benefits. Since many American retirees needed or wanted to continue to work after age 65, this bill helps many.

According to an article on ThirdAge, "nearly 40 percent of Americans 50 and older now expect they will have to work during retirement out of necessity, to maintain their lifestyles." Many mature workers return to the place of employment from which they have retired, but on a part-time basis. Others do not have the option of returning to their previous job or they do not choose to take it. They instead decide to explore new paths.

Unfortunately finding a job as an older worker isn't easy. On average it takes twice as long for an older worker to find a job and older workers frequently must accept a lower salary. This is in spite of the fact that older workers bring something to their jobs that younger workers cannot: a lifetime of experience, expertise, and skills.

Part of the difficulty facing older job seekers lies in the fact that many require retraining in order to adapt to the changes in the market. While the skills of retirees are abundant, they sometimes do not have technical skills, which are very important in today's market. SCSEP: Senior Community Service Employment Program provides job training to low-income people over age 55. The AARP Web site has information on job searching, staying employable and overcoming barriers to employment.


Inquiring Minds

Elderhostel is a nonprofit organization that provides "learning adventures" for those age 55 or over. According to the organization's website, “Elderhostel is for people on the move who believe learning is a lifelong process.” Participants can travel all over the world doing research, or take part in classroom learning.

For many years retirement was thought of as the end. It is more beneficial to think of this life transition as a beginning. It can be a time to take advantage of opportunities we couldn't take advantage of before. It is a time to learn new skills, try a new career, or give back to the community. You decide.