To Retire, or Not to Retire?

It was Margaret Mead who staunchly proclaimed, “Sooner or later I’m going to die, but I’m not going to retire!” I wholeheartedly agree. However, I certainly do take plenty of time for leisure, travel, and family. Plus, my work is interesting and allows me to interface with very smart individuals pursuing a common cause: healthcare at home. For those who do choose to retire and pursue dreams they’d previously set on the back burner, my respect and well wishes.

My continued penchant for bettering my industry places me in an exclusive minority of those who continue to work full-time past age 65 – only 8% of us. Yet, not surprisingly, we boomers are forging a new path, somewhere between the “work till I die” stance and closing the door on employment altogether: professional temping.

Case in point is 74-year-old Dr. John Siebel, a semi-retired oncologist who wanted – and found – the best of both worlds. “I work for doctors on vacation or maternity leave,” he explains, affording him the luxury of spending quality time getting to know and help patients without all of the back-office time constraints. He adds that in order for such an arrangement to work, someone must possess “in-demand skills, good health, and some financial security.”

One of the difficulties for seniors upon retirement is the self-perceived loss of identity and relevancy, after spending a lifetime building up knowledge, wisdom, and experience in their field. Coupled with a greater sense of mortality as we age, the retirement years, although celebrated grandiosely, can actually create a great deal of stress and personal upheaval. An arrangement such as temping can be a compromise that allows boomers to maintain a continued sense of self-fulfillment, with the flexibility to carve out plenty of time for other pursuits.

Who knows? Perhaps one day, I’ll find myself toying with the idea of retirement. For now, I remain thankful for the good health and wherewithal to have achieved a perfect balance of both professional and personal relevancy.