Living longer and working longer go hand in hand according to research.
When does old age start?
In many countries an older worker is still defined by government agencies as someone over the age of 40. But most of us in the western world don’t think that way (unless we are teenagers!) and realize that we are all living longer. There can be the impression that older workers are a drag on society using up precious resources. Some think that senior citizens hinder younger people from gaining employment.
The case for employing older workers
The fact is though, that those who remain productively employed are more likely to stay fit and healthy. This means a lower usage of heath care than would otherwise be the case. There will always be some slowing down once people get into their 60’s. However older workers have been shown to have lower rates of absenteeism and a stronger work ethic. They are also less likely to have accidents at work than their young co-workers.
Older workers are often more experienced, and even though they may not work harder, they often work smarter. Once upon a time there was a stereotype that over 40’s was less innovative and willing to learn. It is now being discovered that older workers still have a great capacity for learning and relearning. Many of those who have not been brought up with mobiles and computers learn from their children and grandchildren.
Learning ability, memory and motivation do not significantly decline with age (unless of course, there is significant illness). There are many examples of innovation and entrepreneurship from older people. Many academics continue to lecture, write, consult and travel well into their 80’s and even beyond.
What about voluntary work?
And it is not only in full time employment that senior citizens continue to contribute. Some of the most substantial contributions are made in the voluntary section. Armies of older persons provide essential services in teaching, sport, medicine, politics and community projects. Much of the support for the sick and dying, the physically or mentally disabled, is provided by older people. Seniors are also very involved in the arts and crafts community.
Because we are living longer there are significant impacts on the world of work. There are major political, social and family implications. However we are fortunate to live in a time where there are many steps we can take towards a healthier, longer and more fulfilled life. Keeping working in some form or other is just one of them.