More retirees choose to un-retire, and re-enter the workforce – Herb Weiss

Published in RINewsToday on August 29, 2022

Retirees are rethinking their decision to leave their jobs to travel, to pursue leisure activities and hobbies, and to spend time with their family and friends. After the surge of retirements in the early months of the pandemic in late spring 2022, retirees are now returning to work in droves, as they see the value of their stocks and bonds decline and a soaring inflation rate impacting their purchasing power. 

A recent AARP web article, “5 Unexpected Reasons Retirees are Returning to Work,” cited data from the Indeed employment website, found that “of those who retired a year earlier, 1.7 million, or 3.3 percent, are employed again. The majority of these so-called un-retirees are working part time.​”

Researchers are now following, and taking a closer look, at this employment trend.  

According to website-based Resume Builder, a recently released survey revealed that one in five retirees say they are likely to return to work this year. Sixty nine percent of these respondents say they are un-retiring in order to combat rising costs of living. While nearly 60 percent were still concerned about going back to work during the ongoing pandemic, they say they may go back to work. 

This survey was conducted online by the survey platform Pollfish, on March 29, 2022. In total, 800 participants in the U.S. were surveyed. All participants had to pass through demographic filters to ensure they were currently over the age of 54 and retired.

Continuing to Work in the Era of the COVID-19 Pandemic

Resume Builder’s survey findings found that 12 percent of the respondents stated that they were somewhat likely to un-retire this year, while an additional 8 percent say they are very likely. When asked where exactly they plan to go back to work, 19 percent said they will go back to work for their previous employer, 23 percent will stay in the same industry but work for a new employer, while the largest group, at 58 percent, will go to a different industry.

“There is no longer a retirement age and people want to be engaged longer,” stated career consultant Stacie Haller in a statement released on May 2, 2022, announcing the survey’s results.  “Others are returning to the workplace for financial reasons, and in this new work world, there are now more options for them to return with the advent of remote work [and] more part-time work for older workers who cannot commit to a full work week,” she says.

The researchers say that many un-retirees want to take advantage of the flexibility of remote work, given the shifts in being based in a commercial building to remote work over the last 2 years. Thirty one percent of the respondents say they would prefer a remote position but will work in person if need be.

“Remote work is a priority of older workers returning to the workforce and a very welcome way to continue working past the age where they may have previously felt their only option was retirement,” said Haller. “Many no longer want the heavy travel schedule they may have had to endure, especially now that work/life balance is such a big part of workplace conversations.”

“So many candidates have shared with me that they want more of a life, but still want to work and contribute,” she added. “Remote work is important for those with aging physical challenges who can now continue to work and be productive from home. Remote work is also more financially viable for older workers as the cost of commuting has climbed and remote work becomes a huge way to save on costs,” she said.

The survey found that over 69 percent of the respondents cited rising costs and supply chain issues as a motivation for making a decision to reenter the workforce. The most common answer given by the retiree respondent as to why, as a retiree, they were considering un-retiring, eighty-three percent of the respondents expressed concern about their financial situation. Specifically, 44 percent of this group say they are somewhat concerned about the state of their finances, while 39 percent are highly concerned.

Additionally, the survey findings revealed that 39 percent say their daily expenses have increased somewhat over the past three months, while another 39 percent say their expenses have increased greatly. Nineteen percent expressed concern their retirement savings won’t cover their costs of living.

The researchers also found that six-in-ten of the survey’s respondents say they are still concerned about the pandemic. But the majority say they are likely to unretire this year and are open to in-person work. Specifically, 35 percent stated they are still somewhat concerned about the pandemic, while 24 percent noted they were highly concerned. 

Employers Encourages to Return to Workforce 

In addition to these safety concerns of returning to the office during this ongoing pandemic, 44 percent stated they are somewhat worried about age bias affecting their job prospects, while 28 percent were highly worried. But Haller says that older workers need not worry, stressing that today’s labor shortage is an excellent time for retirees to seek employment.  

“The current war for talent has encouraged older workers to return as they are more welcomed than in the past and can find work to fit their needs and alleviate some or all of their financial struggles,” says Haller. 

“Recruiters are reaching out to this cohort more than before on the hunt for talent. Those who have talents and skills in areas where they have not previously worked can have the opportunity to use those skills now as employers can see their years of work experience to speak to their candidacy,” adds Haller. 

With the backdrop of the ongoing pandemic, the unretirement trend has become the new normal as retirees continue to enter the nation’s workforce in greater numbers. The returning retirees bring their technical skills, knowledge and work experience into a job market hit by a shortage of qualified. workers. Hiring the returning retirees allows a company to access their life-long skill set and experiences with younger workers also benefiting from being able to learn from these individuals. A stronger worker culture is created by bringing back older workers building ties between young and old employees. Retirees returning to work also benefit from a job market where employees receive increased wages and enhanced benefits. They also can continue to keep their minds more active at work reducing the incidents of being afflicted by Alzheimer’s and dementias. 

As 2023 approaches, our image of retirement must change. With the growing number of unretired returning to their jobs, images of retirement won’t be of senior sitting on rocking chair on the porch, gardening, traveling, or fixing up the house.  It will be tied to being employed. 

Aging in Place in Your Rhode Island Community

Published in RINewsToday on May 2, 2022

As the graying of the nation’s population continues, older persons are choosing to live out their remaining years remaining in their communities in their homes, whenever possible. A new just-released study of adults age 50 and older from the AP-NORC Center for Public Research and the SCAN Foundation, finds a majority of older persons would like to age in place and are confident they can access needed services that will allow them to stay at home in their community for as long as possible.  

Gathering Thoughts About Aging in Place

According to this new national study released last week, two-thirds of the respondents think their communities meet their needs for accessing services like health care, grocery stores and social opportunities. The researchers found that all types of health care services are widely perceived as easy to access in their communities, and most feel that local health care understand their needs (79%) and take their concerns seriously (79%).

But, a closer examination of the small proportion of older Americans (Blacks and Hispanics) who feel less prepared and less supported in their community raises concerns about equity in access to the resources necessary to age in place.

However, the study reported that a few respondents say they had a hard time accessing needed services because of communication obstacles like a language barrier (11%), cultural barrier (8%) or age gap (8%); issues with affordability (15%); or issues of respect for their religious (4%) or cultural (3%) background. 

Those in urban areas—and suburban areas especially—describe their communities as having more supports for aging in place than those in rural areas. Older adults in suburban areas see their communities as doing the best job with meeting needs for healthy food, internet access, and the kinds of foods they want to eat. Suburban areas are also seen as better than rural areas in particular at meeting needs for health care and social activities. Older rural Americans are less likely than those living elsewhere to use a range of services simply because they aren’t available in their area. They are less likely to feel that community services are easy to get and designed for people their age than those in urban or suburban communities as well. And they are less likely to think a variety of health care services would be easy for them to access.

Income disparities are also associated with access to critical aging services. Those with incomes of $50,000 and below are less likely than those earning more to have access to services that are in their language (73% vs. 82%), close by or easy to get to (58% vs. 65%), respectful of their religious beliefs (57% vs. 65%), or designed for people their age (53% vs. 63%). When it comes to medical services, they are also less likely to have easy access to dental care, physical therapy, pharmacies, nursing homes, and urgent care than those earning more.

Additionally, those age 65 and older generally feel more prepared and report better access to important community services than those ages 50-64.

Aging in Place in the Ocean State 

For older adults aging in place, in their own homes, is by far the preferred model, says Mary Lou Moran, Director, Pawtucket Division of Senior Services at the Leon Mathieu Senior Center. “In fact, the theme of this year’s federal observance of Older Americans Month “Age My Way” focuses specifically on this very topic. The coordination, accessibility, and connection to services and programs is critical to the successful delivery of services and is where much work needs to be done,” she says. 

Moran says that senior centers located in communities throughout the state deliver needed information and assistance to older adults on accessing the needed  services to age in place.  Social isolation, access to transportation, food and housing insecurity, economic stability, and connectivity to services, are obstacles to enabling a person to stay in the community in their homes, adds Moran.

Over the years, Rhode Island’s inadequate Medicaid rates have become major obstacles to allowing a person to stay at home. However, recent state legislation, H 7616, to recreate a Department of Healthy Aging, spearheaded by Reps Carson, Ruggiero, McLaughlin, Contvriend, Speakman, Ajello and Potter, addresses some of the challenges that service providers are facing when trying to assist individuals to age in place. Moran adds, as the number of older adults continues to grow exponentially, the time has come to fully put the needs of our elders in the fore front to enable them to age with choice, dignity and respect.

According to Maureen Maigret, policy consultant and Chair of the Aging in Community Subcommittee of the Long-Term Care Coordinating Council, “Rhode Island is fortunate to have a number of government-funded programs that help older adults to age in place.” These programs include Meals on Wheels home-delivered meals program; Medicaid home and community services including home care, adult day services; assisted living and self-directed programs; Caregiver respite and support services; Home Modification grants to help make homes accessible; and elder transportation assistance for those age 60+ for medical trips, to get to adult day.  She also mentioned the Office of Healthy Aging’s Home Cost Share program for persons age 65+ and persons underage 65 with dementia who are not Medicaid eligible with income up to 250% of the federal poverty level and the wonderful programs offered at the state’s senior centers.

However, Maigret says that for some of these services such as home care there may be wait lists due to worker shortages. (People can find out about these programs or to find out what benefits they may be entitled to by calling the POINT at 401-462-4444).

There are also private services available for almost any service needed to help people age in place if they have the financial means to pay for them,” says Maigret.  

The National Village to Village Movement Comes to Rhode Island

While some of these volunteer programs in RI may offer some type of services such as transportation, a relatively new initiative has come to Rhode Island. “The Village Common of Rhode Island (TVC) provides a variety of supports through the efforts of almost 200 trained and vetted volunteers,” says Maigret. 

Maigret says that the goal of TVC is to help older persons to stay in their own homes and connected and engaged with their community. “This “neighbor helping neighbor” model started 20 years ago in Beacon Hill Boston and now there are 300 nonprofit “villages” operating across the country. TVC supports include transportation, running errands, home visits and telephone assurance, minor home repairs and light yard work, assistance with technology, and a virtual caregiver support program. A robust weekly calendar offers virtual events, and a monthly newsletter keeps members and guests informed. All this is done with a lean 1.5 person staff, a working board of directors and almost 200 volunteers,” she notes. 

“I had heard about the “village” model some years back and supported efforts to start a “village” in Rhode Island, she says. “It amazes me that a small band of committed volunteers were able to put all the pieces in place to operationalize a “village” and to see what has been accomplished. There are now active “villages” in Providence, Barrington, Edgewood/Cranston and Westerly with almost 300 members and more “villages” are under development. One of the priority goals of the Board is to reach out to underserved neighborhoods in our urban and rural areas to listen to people and find out what is important to them and what type of “village” program might work in their area,” she says. 

“We know that transportation is a huge issue for folks living in our rural areas and that is a huge concern. And, based on findings of the 2021 RI Life Index: Older Adults in Rhode Island(from RI Blue Cross Blue Shield//Brown University School of Public Health), we know that older persons of color living in our core cities have lower perceptions of community life, access to healthcare and experience lower food security and access to technology,” adds Maigret.  

“Research on the fairly new “village” programs shows promise in fostering feelings of being connected to others and suggest older women living alone with some disability most likely to experience improved health, mobility and quality of life (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28509628/.),” says Maigret, noting that this is an important finding as Rhode Island has such a high portion of older adults living alone.

TVC President Anne Connor (74) says she has been a member and volunteer since 2015. “That we are volunteer supported is noteworthy and having an Executive Director, Caroline Gangji, (formerly acting Executive Director at Age Friendly RI), improves our ability to serve our members”, says the retired librarian and paralegal.

As TVC founder Cy O’Neil once said, ” …you don’t create a fire house when the house is burning.”  TVC is more than services – it is the relationships we build that are key to our success, says Connor.  

For details about The Village Common Rhode Island, go to https://www.villagecommonri.org/.

For specifics programs and services offered by the Rhode Island Office of Healthy, go to  https://oha.ri.gov/.  

Senate Aging Committee: Seniors urged to prepare for making financial decisions

Published in RINewsToday on January 31, 2022

Over two weeks ago, U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Tim Scott (R-SC), Chairman and Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging, urged seniors and people with disabilities to make a New Year’s resolution to prepare for anticipated financial decisions.

The hearing highlighted the importance of President Joseph Biden’s Dec. 2021 executive order to enhance customer experiences across federal agencies and align services to support people at critical decision points in their lives, like turning 65. This executive order expands retirees’ ability to claim Social Security benefits online, receive updates on their application status and access personalized online tools for Medicare enrollment and coverage options.

At this Senate Aging Committee hearing held on Jan. 13, the Senators released a bipartisan report entitled, “Financial Literacy in Retirement: Providing Just-in-Time Information and Assistance to Older Americans and People with Disabilities” along with a brochure for consumers to help them navigate these decisions.

This Senate Aging Committee report examines the real-time information and help older Americans and people with disabilities need as they face changes in their lives, known as “just-in-time” financial literacy.

“This year, more than 10,000 Americans will turn 65 every day. Around kitchen tables all across the country, retirees and seniors are asking: ‘Should I take my Social Security or should I wait?’ and ‘Do I need to sign up for Medicare, or can I wait?’ These are not simple decisions,” said Casey. “As we begin 2022, I urge seniors to make a New Year’s resolution: take stock of your finances and get prepared for these upcoming decisions, says the Pennsylvania Senator in a statement.

Adds Scott, “Financial literacy is key to making the most out of the financial opportunities our country has to offer. And much like education, it never loses its power — no matter your stage of life,” noting that the report will empower seniors to make wise financial decisions, laying the groundwork for security and peace of mind in their golden years.

The 26-page report identifies the six common decisions that require, and can benefit from, this kind of financial literacy: claiming Social Security, enrolling in Medicare, annuitizing a 401(k), giving to charity, downsizing a home, and responding to a natural disaster.

Putting the spotlight on Financial Literacy in Retirement

Four witnesses testified at the one hour and 18-minute hearing.

In her testimony, Gerri Walsh, President of the Washington, DC-based Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, applauded the timeliness of the hearing because “financial literacy in America is low and has declined over time.”  She cited a 2009 study that found 42 percent of American adults demonstrated high levels of financial literacy, this figure deceasing to 34 percent in 2018. “Despite increasing low levels of financial literacy, 71 precent of Americans believe they have a high level of financial knowledge, suggesting widespread over confidence,” she told the attending Senators.

According to Cindy Hounsell, JD, President of the Washington, DC-based Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement, many workers are not knowledgeable about issues they will face during their retirement.  The impact of future inflation and taxes is not known by most and is not included in financial planning for retirement. This can have an impact on retirement income. Individuals also are oftentimes confused about how much income they will need to cover their expenses in retirement.  Many retirees struggle to plan how they will draw down assets.  Longevity risk is poorly understood and not widely planning for.  Finally, women assume they will keep working beyond age 65 but will end up retiring earlier than expected due to job loss due to health issues, or caregiving.

“As a nation with an aging population, we need to educate the public on strengthening existing retirement programs wherever possible,” said Hounsell, “That means focusing especially on the links to both Social Security and Medicare, employer-sponsored retirement programs and emergency saving initiatives, and educating average workers about how these systems work to prevent penalties and loss of benefits,” she added.

Workers Not Knowledgeable About Retirement Issues

According to Hounsell, many workers are not knowledgeable about issues they will face during their retirement.  The impact of future inflation and taxes is not known by most and is not included in financial planning for retirement.  This can have an impact on retirement income. Individuals also are oftentimes confused about how much income they will need to cover their expenses in retirement. Many retirees struggle to plan how they will draw down assets.  Longevity risk is poorly understood and not widely planning for. Finally, women assume they will keep working beyond age 65 but will end up retiring earlier than expected due to job loss, health issues, or caregiving.

Dorothea Bernique, founder and executive director of North Charleston, South Carolina-based Increasing H.O.P.E. a financial training center, reported that 14.9 percent of the South Carolina households have income below the federal poverty threshold and have a lack of basic financial knowledge, this resulting in a very low well-being score of 18 percent in the state.

Bernique noted that lack of basic financial knowledge can result in seniors not having the ability to make choices during retirement. “Hence this is how our seniors end up as greeters at the nearest Walmart when they should be enjoying the golden years of their lives,” she said.

Finally,  Patti Szarowicz, a certified Aging and Disability Resource Connection (ADRC) Counselor at the Atlanta Regional Commission Area on Aging,  stated that she plays a critical role in assisting seniors navigate complex systems.  She helps callers to locate the nearest senior center and to find rides to medical appointments, to identify financial assistance in paying bills, securing home and community-based services and respite support groups for caregivers.

“I can hear the pain and despair in the voices of callers, who say things like, ‘I’m in trouble, and I don’t know what to do. Please call me back, I’m going to be homeless,’” she says.

Szarowicz called on Congress to support ADRCs to hire additional councilors, allocate more funding to enhance user-friendly technology for documenting client data and better integration across technology systems used, which includes telephone, resource database and client management systems. Public awareness of the national network of Area Agencies on Aging is also key to directing people to unbiased guidance for resources.

Take advantage of the Senate Aging Committee’s resources to make financial decisions, in your retirement years. You won’t regret it. 

To obtain a copy of the Senate Aging Committee report, go to https://www.aging.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Financial%20Literacy%20Booklet.pdf.

To obtain a copy of the brochure, go to https://www.aging.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Financial%20Literacy%20Brochure.pdf

Contact financial_literacy@aging.senate.gov to request printed copies of the brochure.

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