Working in Retirement

14 Mar 2017 Karina S. Henkel

I wrote in my  August 2016 post about my 74 year old friend who was desperately looking for a job. A couple months ago she found  two part-time jobs: one for the weekends and the other one for the weekdays. Now she works 36 hours over  six days a week. And she is happy about that. She just doesn’t like staying  home. Life without work, without being challenged, is just too boring for her.

The funny thing is that one of her jobs is for a high-end retirement place. People with money move there to have a place where they can find the help they need to continue a nice and decent life. Nice facilities, organized events, nurses, facility managers, receptionists, etc. are only there to make life as easy and enjoyable as possible for the inhabitants. And my 74 year old friend is older than many of the retired people she is taking care of now.

She enjoys describing to me how old some of the mid-sixties residents are. Some of them have health or mental issues and some are just old, despite the fact that they are often 10 to 15 years younger than my friend. She is so active and vivid and engaged that she could not imagine living in a place like that. She prefers taking care of old people instead of living with them because she doesn’t feel old at all.

I am so glad that she finally found two good jobs. And I am still in awe that nobody cares about her age. All that counts is her ability to fit into the work environment.

I am still not sure what to think about people working at that age. In Germany I grew up with people around me who were looking forward to their retirement age. My mother enjoys her life without working so much. But I also see how enriching work can be if you are, for example, a woman without a husband and children and close family. I know that my friend feels very lonely if she has too much time for herself. For her it is a gift that the American society welcomes aged workers.