Rethinking retirement

By William Baker - Contributing Writer

Are you retired?

Are you considering retirement?

Or are you like an increasing number of Americans who are rethinking retiring?

In 2017, retirement doesn’t mean what it used to. Generally, Americans are remaining healthier longer and living longer than their parents did. That makes it easier to work past 65, the retirement age that was set years ago. New average life expectancy moves closer to 80 for both men and women. Turning 65 is no guarantee that an individual will be ready or willing to retire.

Numerous reports in the past few years have shown that employment growth among older individuals is growing. The New York Times in 2012 stated that “a record 7.2 million Americans age 65 and older are working – double the number 15 years ago – partly because many older Americans love to work and partly because many feel too financially squeezed to retire.”

A Conference Board survey in 2013 found that 62 percent of people ages 45 to 60 plan to delay retirement, up from 42 percent in 2010.

A landmark study in 2014 from Merrill Lynch conducted in partnership with Age Wave found that “…nearly three out of four pre-retirees over the age of 50 said that their ideal retirement will include working.”

A voice for continuing to work long after retirement age belonged to Art Linkletter. This broadcast pioneer, author of some 20 books, and a well-known motivational speaker told the Orlando Sentinel in 2007: “Don’t retire, become a ‘seniorpreneur,’ keep a positive outlook, and maintain your sense of humor.” This was three years before his death at age 97. Another memorable quote from twenty years earlier, “Retire?” he said. “If you retire, you can’t ever have a day off.”

An opposite view comes from men and women who have come to realize that retirement doesn’t necessarily represent the last chapter of an active life, but instead the beginning of new chapters with more fun and less stress.

If you are retired or will be in the coming months, and if you are not interested in working either full or part time, look around your community. There are multiple opportunities for you to serve in a variety of organizations that serve others. The public library, the chamber of commerce, the local historical group, tourism promotion, the Salvation Army, your church, and many other non-profit or service clubs and organizations are almost certain to welcome newcomers with talent, interest, and ability to work with them.

Cumberland Gap National Historical Park and its affiliated Friends of the Park also offer opportunities for volunteers in a range of programs and services.

Youth programs are often in need of role models, coaches, and counselors. Including churches, schools, and Little League baseball, there is a place for almost anyone who can devote a few hours a week to programs that are so important in the community.

As you rethink your retirement options, remember the need for volunteers in the area where you live. And, if you choose to work part-time, you can always volunteer to add another chapter to your lifework.

William H. Baker, Claiborne County native and former Middlesboro resident, may be contacted at

By William Baker

Contributing Writer

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