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Senior Living: Retirement is a fairly new thing

By: Postmedia News

Most people today think that retiring at age 65 has always been the norm, but really it has only formally been around since 1935, when many governments passed the social security act, establishing government welfare for retirees and setting a standardized formal age of 65 for retirement. The Canadian Pension Plan (CPP/QPP) only started in April 1965, and the Old Age Security began January 1966.

The idea for retirement came from Prussia in 1881, when Otto von Bismarck came up with a government-run financial support system for citizens over the age of 70. At the time, this was a radical move since everyone around the world never retired. You simply kept working until you died and at the time in the late 1800s and early 1900s the average life expectancy was only 61, so the chance of you getting to retirement was slim-to-none.

Now retirement is the “buzzword” for your leisure second chance at life, when you can sleep in and golf every day. People are living much longer and instead of retirement being five years or less like it was in the 1960s, it could now be as long as your working career, 30 to 40 years.

With this in mind, I decided to do a little research. According to Stats Canada, 36 per cent of Canadians aged 65 to 74 are still working full-time, and 13 per cent of those aged over 75 are also still working. I was surprised by this finding, and I am certainly not advocating working into your elder years or continuing to work until you die; however, obviously these stats show that a lot of Canadian retirees are not just sitting around.

Whether you need the additional income or not, many older people are working part-time to feel purposeful. There are many retirees that have now redefined the term “retirement” by focusing on volunteering and service, giving them an outlet to spend their time in a meaningful way and sustaining the sense of satisfaction they derived from working.

Contrary to popular belief, there is no “right time” to retire and if you are in good health there is no real need for rest and relaxation every day until you die. Retirement was not intended for everyone, even though we now believe we all should have access to it. The 65-year age of retirement was chosen by economists and actuaries when social security was created, when life expectancies were much less than they are now, and only provides a generalized guideline.

The reality is, most Canadians are now retiring much younger than 65 with 61 being the median age, but 65 per cent of these retirees are continuing to work part-time. It is a false notion that in order for you to be retired that means you never earn money again or be defined by an age cap.

Continuing to work while in retirement has so many benefits for you. Being socially connected, physically active, mentally sharp, and enjoying the benefits of additional revenue all make a case for continuing to work while in retirement. They even say that those that work part-time in retirement have fewer health problems.

Boredom is a common complaint that I hear from my readers and when in retirement you never seem to get a day off – so, why not give yourself a break from all that rest and relaxation, and consider getting a part-time job?

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