JFS Perspectives

Friday, May 11, 2018

Older Adults and Employment: Staying Active and Engaged

Working a career for several years and then arriving at a decision to retire has its pros and cons. It may mean more time to try new things and be adventurous, or added time spoiling the grandchildren. In spite of the joys of retiring, it is also a period of transition and a time when questions may arise as to how to maintain passions and connections with others.

Older adults have a wealth of wisdom and experience gained through their careers and relationships with others developed throughout their lives. They have a lot to contribute to the workforce, and are interested in pursuing hobbies, activities, and volunteer opportunities. Older adult brains are also adaptable to new opportunities to learn, socialize, and create, which may help those who are entering this phase of life remain engaged and connected with a sense of purpose.

Older adults:

  • Have more opportunity for autonomy. Accrued skills and experience obtained through the years enable older adults to provide ideas to coworkers, create roles that respond to needs within the workplace, and transition to different jobs with ease.
  • Reenter the workforce. Many may engage in entry-level jobs to do something fun, remain involved, and stay physically and socially active. Others take part-time positions related to their careers to use their talents, but on their own terms. Part-time work can open the door to becoming a permanent hire.
  • Can engage in workshops and seminars to brush up on skills and learn something new. Websites provide tips and advice for job search and interviews.
  • Can look to their communities for engagement and volunteer opportunities. Village models provide opportunities for people of all ages to help one another, with particular focus on older adults’ independence and civic engagement.
  • Can make a difference through helping others. Volunteer opportunities provide a way to stay involved and feel included.
  • Experience better health benefits as volunteers. This may include enhanced feelings of self-control, improved cognitive functioning, decline in depression, and increased longevity.

By Susan Harlor, Jay and Rose Phillips Foundation Senior Solutions Center Intern 

Susan HarlorSusan Harlor is in her final semester in the Master of Social Work program at Metropolitan State University of Denver. She began her internship with Jewish Family Service in August 2017 and enjoys meeting with clients in their homes. Susan hopes to continue working with seniors in her social work career, and may pursue clinical work or counseling.