Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Retirement as a Mixture of Work and Play

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Retirement as a Mixture of Work and Play

Article excerpt

ST. PETERSBURG, FLA. - To anyone whose daily schedule is long on work and short on relaxation, "leisure" ranks as one of the most appealing words anywhere.

It also remains one of the most elusive dreams. Until retirement. Then time deficits disappear, and leisure becomes a full-time way of life - sometimes too much of a good thing, in fact. After a long career, the question becomes: Week after week, year after year, how do you fill the day when no alarm clock rings and no bosses beckon?

That question takes on new meaning in the context of a report by the New York-based International Longevity Center-USA. Thanks to early retirement and greater longevity, the study says, an increasing number of retirees will spend a full quarter of their lives in retirement.

Here in Florida, where 19 percent of residents are over 65 (the national average is 13 percent), some retired people are already proving the truth of those findings.

For more than 25 years, my family and I have made periodic visits to relatives who own a condominium in a retirement community on Florida's west coast. Built in the early 1970s, the complex is still home to a handful of original residents who retired from jobs in the North and moved here to begin a new chapter in their lives. Now their retirement has stretched for a quarter of a century - longer than many of them ever imagined, and longer than many of us have worked.

Robert Butler, a co-editor of the report, "Longevity and Quality of Life: Opportunities and Challenges," urges older people to "stay in the game a few more years instead of sitting on the bench for the last quarter of their lives." Inactivity, Dr. Butler warns, threatens well-being.

Yet older workers who want to "stay in the game" face sometimes daunting challenges. Everything from subtle age discrimination to enticing early-retirement packages can serve as disincentives to remaining on the job.

One positive policy change came last April, when Congress eliminated penalties on Social Security earnings for workers between 65 and 70.

In other good news, demographers predict a coming boom in older workers. …

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