The idea of older adults staying in the workforce or re-entering after retirement is nothing new. For some, the recession ate up their savings and they had to return for financial reasons, but others simply feel healthy, enjoy being active and love their work. According to U.S. News & World Report, seniors who pursue so-called "encore careers" are also making a major impact on social entrepreneurship.
One organization, Civic Ventures, supports seniors who want to work to make the world a better place. Founder Marc Freedman told the news outlet he created the organization in 1997 as a way to celebrate these entrepreneurs, branding civic-minded encore careers as those that can bring "passion, purpose and a paycheck."
Freedman said the trend of seniors returning to this type of work is becoming more mainstream than it was in 1997, so the need to celebrate these individuals is growing. Civic Ventures, which has now changed its name to Encore.org, partners with foundations and corporations to give annual awards to inspirational social entrepreneurs. This year, the organization awarded five entrepreneurs over the age of 60 with $100,000 prizes for their work. Another 35 seniors were recognized as well.
"There are millions of people who are already at this work," Freedman told the news outlet. "For us, it is less of an abstract notion and more of an opportunity to tell the stories of people who are already doing it."
The organization has brought awareness to the idea that seniors can stay involved and make a difference - a marked shift from the generation before them - thanks to longer, healthier life spans. Freedman said encore careers "can help reset the dream for this part of life in a broad way."
"I think it could bring back the aspirational element [in society] that we've sort of lost in later life," he told the publication.
According to the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, the average retirement age for men has risen from 62 to 64 over the past 20 years, and the age for women to leave the workforce has also climbed. An April Gallup survey found that the average American expects to retire at age 67. Encore careers may provide seniors the ability to follow a dream or career path they always wanted to try, giving them purpose, social engagement and a paycheck - all of which are beneficial to senior living.