NPR: What Retirement? Seniors Are Getting Back To Work

February 13, 2012

At 75, many people imagine they’ll be retired and spending their time playing cards or on a golf course. But according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of working seniors is actually on the rise. In fact, it’s more than doubled since 1990.

Ella Washington decided to go back to work at 83. Today, she’s a receptionist in training at a senior living home outside Washington, D.C. She’s hoping it will be a stepping stone to a real job, which she’s been looking for since 2005.

“People say, ‘Why do you want to go out and work?’ But my question is: Why sit at home?” Washington says. “If you’re doing nothing, you’re gonna get bored, you’re gonna get to a place where you can hardly move. I have to keep moving. I cannot stop.”

But that hasn’t been easy. Washington says she’s gone on job interviews but suspects employers don’t want to hire someone older.

“Older people can still move,” she says. “They’re gonna come to work. They’re not going to the club and hang out half the night and come back and say, ‘Well, I’m not going in tomorrow.’ Maybe some older people do go to the club, but I don’t.”


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