Not Your Dad's Retirement

Forget the countdown to age 65. The road to retirement may be taking a new turn. It no longer seems to be the straight, clear path it once was.

According to Statistics Canada data from 2015, one in five Canadians over 65 years old reported working during the year. In fact, the percentage of seniors who reported working nearly doubled between 1995 and 2015, with most of the increase coming from partyear or parttime work.

2016 Canadian census figures show that one in five Canadians is working, either full or part time, paid or unpaid, past 65, and that the number of post-retirement workers has doubled since 1995.

Research conducted by Home Instead, Inc., franchisor of the Home Instead Senior Care® network, reflects incompatible attitudes about retirement in surveys of those who have returned to work or volunteerism after an announced retirement compared with older workers planning to retire within the next five years.

To that end, 71 percent of people who have returned to work said they had looked forward to retirement, whereas a whopping 93 percent of people awaiting retirement were excited to retire. What’s more, 59 percent of those who had unretired (were working again) said they never thought they would.

Motivations to Keep Working

Financial influences could be at play. Money proved, by a wide margin, to be the most consistent theme causing people to return to work (at 71 percent) in Home Instead’s research.

According to Statistics Canada, employment income was the main source of income for 43.8 percent of seniors who worked in 2015, up from 40.4 percent in 2005 and 38.8 percent in 1995. A 2017 online survey by the Globe and Mail also showed that in addition to personal financial reasons, many working seniors are also doing so to help their adult children financially.

Financial fear also is a motivator to keep working. Twenty-seven percent of those in the Home Instead study said they returned to work for fear of running out of money. In addition, a 2011 national survey by Leger on behalf of Financial Planning Standards Council found that 42 percent of Canadians rank money as their greatest stress.

According to Melanie Johannink, Sun Life Financial advisor, “Even if you start your financial plan at age 55, that plan may look very different at age 60. Everything shifts and changes over time. And I think there is a significant fear factor when looking at retirement income for some people. They may be wondering ‘Do we have enough money to get by?’ Retirement income is your purse in the golden years and you don’t want to sell yourself short.”

No Firm Stop Date

“The word ‘retirement’ has become a misnomer in recent years,” says Jane Barratt, Secretary General of the International Federation on Ageing. “In the past, the retirement age has been around 60 or 65; however, since people are living longer and are generally healthier in their older years, there’s a significant trend toward adopting second and third careers after that perceived ‘retirement’ age.”

According to Johannink, many of her clients are seeking more fulfilling opportunities after retirement rather than immediately stopping work. While some may go on to totally new careers, others stay at their current company, but switch into a more consulting type of role. “A lot of people have been very loyal to their company, especially those ages 55 and up, so they’ve never actually found their true passion, and when they hit a certain age, they finally say I’ve had enough of this corporate life. I’m going to go find out what I really enjoy doing!”

It’s Not Just About Money

While the financial reasons for heading back to work are often a key consideration, they aren’t always the only factor in a senior’s decision to go back to work. According to Home Instead research, 22 percent of those back at work said they chose to unretire to keep their mind sharp and socialize with others.

Furthermore, many of the most popular post-retirement jobs among seniors are those that allow seniors to follow their passion, fulfill a life-long dream, or develop a skill they’ve been meaning to build upon. According to Indeed Canada, some of these jobs could include:

  • Library assistant
  • Dog walker
  • Cake decorator
  • Tour guide
  • Tutor
  • Photographer
  • Graphic designer

Sun Life Financial’s Johannink says that if a person is continuing to work after retirement, it’s still essential to start planning early from a financial perspective. “Regardless of whether a client chooses to go back to work for financial reasons or to pursue a passion, working with a financial advisor is the most valuable step someone can take in planning for the next stage of life, wherever that may take you.”

“We encourage people to start their retirement plans at least 10 years before they are ready to leave their careers,” says Johannink. “Then, we’ll re-do their plan every two years, should their priorities or life circumstances change. Everyone should be able to feel like they have the means to follow whatever passion they wish to pursue post-retirement, without fear of financial hardship.”

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