24% of us aged 65 to 70 are still working, Forty percent of this group work part-time and forty percent of workers over 65 are self-employed. (Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives).
That’s a fair number of us.
There comes a point in many lives where the idea of slowing down becomes irresistible. It happened to me. I slowly stopped sewing big things, stopped selling blinds, quit doing installations. I was pooped.
About three months ago, I decided to make slipcovers for my four wingback chairs. Not a big deal, but I realized that my domestic sewing machine wasn’t really up to the task. So, I thought, why not just buy the industrial machine that you need, sew the four covers, and then sell the machine later. These machines are specific and valuable, they don’t come on the market often and I knew it wouldn’t be a problem to sell it later. I found one through my trusty industrial sewing machine repair guy and away I went.
As I was sewing the first cover I realized just how much I had missed handling fabric and creating these covers. I really enjoyed it. And I was good at it. Who’d a thought?
So, I dusted off my shingle and resurrected some fabric wholesale accounts, and am sewing outdoor cushion covers and slipcovers again. On my timeline, (which means I can say no…), and it just suits me fine.
I’ve got my toes back in the water, I enjoy what I do, I get out and meet people, I get to play with colors, my brain loves it and I don’t eat as much ‘not good’ stuff at 3:00 in the afternoon.
How ’bout that.
A friend of mine has done the same thing. After a few years off the grid, she has jumped back in, part-time. She says she missed being around like-minded people. That’s pretty powerful. She recognized that we may not get everything we need from the people we share homes with.
I did some poking around and found that my friend and I are not exceptional. (Sorry, friend!) A significant percentage of us ole folks have gone back to work or started businesses, and the reasons vary.
Financial: that’s self-explanatory.
Social: as we age, our circles tend to get smaller, and with that may come an increased sense of isolation. Part-time work helps get us through that. There is a sense of camaraderie among people who work together, a sense of shared purpose. This happens with almost any job, and a feeling of belonging, a sense of purpose, and a solid self-identity are crucial to our mental health, no matter our age.
Returning to work can also provide an opportunity to build new relationships in the workplace. By taking on part-time work, retirees can meet new people from different backgrounds and cultures, building new connections and broadening social circles. This can lead to increased opportunities for learning, personal growth, and new experiences. And whatever we do to keep our brains moving forward is good.
Physical: A job may keep us up and moving. If there is no reason to get up and get going, we may choose to have another ‘jammie’ day, and that can become a habit rather than an exception.
Interestingly, doing volunteer work and/or teaching tend to provide the same benefits. I know, from personal experience, the wonderful feelings of self-worth I get when the light bulb of learning turns on in a student’s face.
Of course, there are drawbacks to working after retirement, and they need to be considered, too, but it seems that even one or two part-time days of work a week can add immeasurably to the quality of our lives.