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. 

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Use ARPA Funds to Make Rhode Island “Age Friendly”

Published on the November 1, 2021 in RINewsToday

With the first public hearing cancelled because of Wednesday’s nor’easter on Oct. 26, Gov. Dan McKee and Lt. Gov Sabina Matos, along with Commerce Director Stefan Pryor and their staff, came to Warren’s Hope & Main to kick off the second public hearing to gather comments about the recently released “Rhode Island 2030: Charting a Course for the Future of the Ocean State.”  The 55-page “working” paper studied and analyzed options for spending the funds authorized by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

Over 50 people came to Warren to give their suggestions as to how the COVID-19 federal dollars should be spent. Problems to address included: lack of affordable housing, the growing homeless program, recovering from the pandemic and rebuilding the state’s economy, and creating an age-friendly state.  

During his testimony, West Warwick resident Vincent Marzullo advised McKee and Matos not to forget Rhode Island’s increasing aging population. According to Marzullo, for the first time in recorded history, there are more people over the age of 64 in the world than children under five. In Rhode Island, over 31 percent of residents are age 55 or older, and by 2030 one-quarter of our population will be over 65. 

While many of the Rhode Island’s 2030 report’s draft recommendations, as well as suggestions from the RI Foundation and AFL-CIO, are worthy, “what is obvious in the current draft is the lack of specific attention, focus and strategy needed to get to an age-friendly designation, said Marzullo, a well-known aging advocate who served as a federal civil rights and social justice Director in Rhode Island for the Corporation for National & Community Service.

“Don’t we now have an obligation to insure better healthcare, safety, housing, livability, caregiving, etc. for this aging population?” Marzullo asked.  

One way for Rhode Island to accomplish this is to join the AARP Age-Friendly Network of States and Communities, which defines eight interconnected domains that can help to identify and address barriers to the well-being and participation of older people. 

State Director Catherine Taylor says that AARP Rhode Island has been working toward making Rhode Island age-friendly for most of the past three years and in a letter back in mid-July urged the governor and state leaders to use ARPA to accelerate AARP’s effort.  

“We are on the cusp of an opportunity to improve livability dramatically,” adds Taylor. “AARP Rhode Island has urged Governor McKee and state leaders to designate a substantial portion of the $1.8 billion in federal ARPA funds to areas that contribute to further development of age-friendly cities and towns — prioritizing healthcare, housing, public transportation, and the long-term services and supports that are essential to older Rhode Islanders,” she says.

The defined domains of AARP Age-Friendly cities are: Outdoor Spaces and Buildings (people need public places to gather — indoors and out); Transportation (driving shouldn’t be the only way to get around); Housing; Social Participation; Respect and Social Inclusion; Work and Civic Engagement; Communication; and Information and Community and Health Services.

Eight other states have obtained “Age-Friendly” status in collaboration with AARP and The World Health Organization (WHO).  

“Well-designed, livable communities promote well-being, sustain economic growth, and make for happier, healthier residents — of all ages,” said Taylor. “That is why AARP has guided Newport, Cranston, Providence and, most recently, Westerly into membership in the AARP Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities. While we are in discussion with other towns and cities who have shown interest, it has been our goal for some time to see that the State of Rhode Island also joins,” she says.

“A key benefit of the Network is the abundance information and support that membership provides. State leaders would have access to global resources on age-friendly best practices, models of assessment and implementation, and the experiences of other states, cities and towns around the world,” notes Taylor.

“The Network helps participating communities become great places for people of all ages by adopting features such as safe, walkable streets; better housing and transportation options; access to key services; and opportunities for residents to participate in civic and community activities. We believe that Rhode Islanders of all ages prefer living in an age-friendly environment. Many, especially older people, are eager to be involved in the process,” adds Taylor.

Marzullo urged McKee to issue an Executive Order, charging the Lt. Governor to convene representatives from the aging community to design and develop an operational plan for Rhode Island to be designed as an “Age Friendly State.”  The groups should include AARP, Age Friendly RI (RIC), the Long-Term Care Coordinating Council (LTCCC), RI Office of Healthy Aging, United Way RI, RI Senior Center Directors Association, RI Elder Info, Senior Agenda Coalition/RI & the RI Commission on National & Community Service (RIDE). 

Creating a Well-Designed Livable Community for Seniors

Maureen Maigret, policy consultant and chair of the Aging in Community Subcommittee of Rhode Island’s Long-Term Care Coordinating Council, notes that the Subcommittee has worked successfully to address “age friendly” domains for several years and that Rhode Island’s 2023 State Plan on Aging also calls for the state to be designated as ‘Age Friendly’ and to work with its partners to promote livable communities for all ages.

“While a formal state commitment through an Executive Order has not happened a number of state agencies such as Environmental Management have been working to embrace age-friendly principles in their work, says Maigret, noting our Rhode Island municipalities have made a commitment to make their communities age-friendly.

In a Sept. 23 Providence Journal op-ed, Maigret called for making Rhode Island age-friendly, recommending that the General Assembly invest in the state’s growing older population. “Knowing that 50-70% of older persons will need some type of long-term services as they age, our most important immediate challenge is to stabilize the paid workforce that helps with the supports needed to remain living at home and to ensure we provide quality congregate care,” says Maigret. 

“We must take immediate steps to secure competitive, living wages for our direct care workers who assist with these tasks and to provide more supportive services for our hundreds of unpaid caregivers who care for loved ones, adds Maigret.  “By looking ahead to 2030, it makes sense to direct a small portion of the federal ARPA funds to communities to both enhance the work of our local senior centers and local Villages and volunteer programs as well as to initiate other age-friendly effort,” she says. 

Maigret calls on Rhode Island’s 39 Cities and Towns to use some of the significant ARPA funds to complement any state funds coming their way for such activities. But for now, stabilizing the long-term care workforce is critical.

A Final Thought…

“The COVID pandemic demonstrated the vulnerability and inequities within both our communities of color and older adults.  In formulating policy and budget investments for the future, Rhode Island has a unique opportunity to promote a statewide “Age Friendly” environment and incorporate the principles of a “beloved community” – a prescription for a healthy society,” says Jim Vincent, President of NAACP’s Providence Branch.

Vincent calls on the Governor and Lt. Governor to give serious attention to not only rebooting our economy, but to strengthening our social fabric and public education to foster a more equitable and civil society. 

Make your voices heard. Now is the time for creative ideas and reactions to the McKee-Matos’ Rhode Island 2030 draft report, which is why they are holding public input sessions. Please take the time to be an advocate for seniors in Rhode Island – and for other causes and issues that are important to you.

Public input sessions will be held at 5 p.m. on the following dates:

Tuesday, Nov. 2 at the Community College of Rhode Island, Warwick

Thursday, Nov. 4 at Innovate Newport (513 Broadway, Newport)

Tuesday, Nov. 9 at United Theatre (5 Canal Street, Westerly)

You can also submit your feedback, online, at www.RI2030.com

For a copy of the McKee-Matos working paper, go to https://ri2030.com/_files/public/RI%202030_final.pdf.

For details about AARP Livable Communities Network (age-friendly communities, to to https://www.aarp.org/livable-communities/network-age-friendly-communities/.

Older adults still worried, coping with COVID-19 Delta, poll shows

Published October 11, 2021 in RINewsToday

With the COVID-19 Delta variant numbers having surged across the nation, Joe (70) and Joyce (66), residing across the Rhode Island border in Seekonk, Massachusetts, continue to keep their distance from others, only seeing vaccinated friends and spending time with their daughter and her husband and grandchildren. During the first year of the pandemic, my friends pre-ordered their groceries and picked up the filled bags outside the store, where an employee quickly put the bags in their trunk. Now, this includes a quick 15-minute trip into the store, if necessary. They continue to not eat their meals in restaurants but will pick up their order curbside or eat outside.

Like my longtime friends, many older adults age 50 and over still remained concerned about this virus and continue to isolate themselves from others (especially those unvaccinated) and practice social distancing and wear their masks.

Still Feeling Socially Isolated

According to a newly released survey on Sept. 29, 2021, by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and funded by The SCAN Foundation, while a majority of adults age 50 or older see their quality of life, mental health, and satisfaction with social activities and relationships positively, they rarely, or never, feel socially isolated. But still, 18 months into the pandemic,1 in 3 still feel socially isolated at least sometimes. And 1 in 4 feels that their social life and relationships have gotten worse over the past year.

The poll survey includes 1,015 interviews with a nationally representative sample of adults age 50 and older living in America. Interviews were conducted between Aug. 20 and 23, 2021, via internet and phone, in English.

The research findings indicate that those older adults most worried about themselves or a loved one being infected by COVID-19 are most likely to practice social distancing, by avoiding travel, staying away from large groups of people, and wearing a mask. They are the ones most often experiencing feelings of social isolation. The researchers say that these people rate their quality of life, mental and emotional health, and social activities and relationships as worse than those less concerned about the virus.

The study’s findings indicate that being vaccinated does not provide the older persons with relief. Those who are vaccinated are more worried about infection from the virus, are more likely to practice social distancing, and are more likely to describe their mental health as worse than last year compared to those who are not vaccinated.

Touching Others Thru Video Chat and Social Media

To cope with isolation, older adults are using video chat and social media more often since the beginning of the pandemic as the frequency of activities like visiting with friends and family in person, doing volunteer work, attending religious services, and talking with neighbors have declined, the study’s findings indicate. And despite struggles with mental health and isolation, more report that their use of mental health services has declined (34%) than increased (6%).

In addition to the increasing use of technology to socialize, more older adults are using video chat, email, and other technology to receive health care remotely, say the researchers, noting that 63% have used telehealth at some point during the pandemic, up from 56% who had used it as of March 2021. Fifty-1% users expect to continue using it once the pandemic is over, too.

Still, adults age 50 and older are more optimistic than pessimistic that they will be able to fully return to their pre-pandemic activities in the next year, though 17% have already done so.

The results of The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research can be found in “Long-Term Care in America: Coronavirus Worries and Social Isolation among Older Adults,” released on Sept. 2021.