Though it can be hectic and troubling to properly prepare for the point at which they will stop working, many American retirees are making plans that fall well outside what is traditionally thought of as retirement.
About 10,000 people per day nationwide turn 65 years old, and thanks to the baby boom, that trend will continue for the next 17 years or so. This uptick gives older workers considerable say in rewriting what retirement looks like. Many who are within a decade or two of being able to retire with full benefits are now going back to school and engaging in other activities that would not have been considered by retirees a decade ago. Others are getting serious about getting into better physical shape so they can live longer, healthier lives once they do stop working.
The latter trend seems counter to recent medical reports indicating that baby boomers tend to have higher blood pressure, more cases of diabetes and higher cholesterol than the previous generation 20 years ago. On the other hand, fewer boomers are smoking and there are generally fewer heart attacks; this shows that, in some ways, many are taking seriously the health concerns that could put them at risk for appreciable - and costly - problems as they age.
Those who return to school appear to be motivated by greater financial well-being once they stop working full-time. Many boomers today continue to work in their chosen industries in some way, even after they retire. Some choose to start private practices as consultants to companies in their fields of expertise, putting decades of expertise to good use while increasing their retirement savings and other sources of income. Others do it because they enjoy what they do and want to remain engaged.
Boomers who pursue new challenges as they approach retirement will likely be in the best position to stop working with healthy finances and will be in better health to enjoy life in retirement.
Speak up: What interests would you like to pursue in retirement?