Aging & Older Adult Services

Ever-increasing life expectancies have opened a new stage between midlife and anything resembling old age. As part of its multimedia series, FronterasDesk.org looks at a growing number of boomers who are entering their 60s and rejecting notions they should idle away or play golf for 30 years. Instead, boomers are looking for encore careers that will allow them to continue to work in areas for social good.

The Dangerous Myth of Reinvention

Two recent news stories show the upside of encore success stories – and the downside of reinvention myths.

BusinessWeek recently posted a slideshow to its site, showcasing 16 people in new, later-life careers. Eight of the 16 are in true encore careers dedicated to the greater good, and two of these are ones we know well.


Every day, 8,000 Americans turn 60 and many can expect 100-year life spans. The length of retirement for centenarians could be more than 30 years. Not everyone finds the prospect of three decades of leisure time enviable, much less sensible. For Marc Freedman, author of The Big Shift: Navigating the New Stage Beyond Midlife, it is also an egregious waste of the talent and experience accumulated by nearly 80 million boomers.

Thousands of college-bound teenagers take a gap year to rest up and gear up for what’s next. Why not make the same opportunity available for their parents? That’s the question Marc Freedman, founder and CEO of Civic Ventures and author of The Big Shift: Navigating the New Stage Beyond Midlife, asks in a new Harvard Business Review blog post.

Millions of Americans are looking for work, and some 400,000 apply for unemployment benefits each week. Thousands more have exhausted all their jobless benefits. So when some companies posted open jobs, and stated the unemployed need not apply, a firestorm erupted. Now Congress is getting involved. Marci Alboher, vice president at Civic Ventures, weighs in on the issues.

More than half of American workers say they plan to keep on working in retirement. That finding from a recent survey by the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies may sound like a contradiction in terms. If so, it's a contradiction that could pay significant dividends. A good retirement plan should aim to assure financial security over a retirement that that could last 20 years or more. An encore career can play a key part.

Last week, George Soros’ firm announced it would stop managing money for outside investors, formally ending the legendary financier’s high-profile, 40-year career. With a personal net worth of $15 billion, his future will include a few more mansions and private jets than the typical retiree. One suggestion offered in the article is to seek opportunities to continue using your job skills and talents. Doing this, will help you find a career with purpose -- an encore career.

Older workers, the argument goes, are “sucking the oxygen out of the atmosphere.” Any job found is one that a younger person will be denied; any social support received for this stage of life is one they won’t get for theirs – and will have to pay for later." Suzanne Braun Levine, author of Father Courage: What Happens When Men Put Family First and Civic Ventures board member, discusses work-family conflict.

Maybe You Can Afford a Gap Year, After All

By: Marci Alboher

My colleague Marc Freedman has been talking up the idea of midlife gap years – a time to take stock, take a step back, and figure out next steps. It needn’t be a full year, though there is something about a full cycle of seasons that seems consistent with beginning a move into a new life stage. We allow young people lots of time for wandering and experimenting, why not the same for those in their encore years?


Last year, 40 percent of U.S. residents 55 and older were in the workforce, a percentage that has grown since 1993. And the percentage of workers older than 65 has continued to rise, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute's analysis of census figures. With this surge comes the necessity for encore careers as a means to continue working in the second half of life.

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