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"It is a mistake to regard age as a downhill grade toward dissolution. The reverse is true. As one grows older, one climbs with surprising strides."

—George Sand


By the end of this chapter, readers will be able to:

  1. Describe patterns in changing demographics in older adults and in older adult workers.

  2. Identify and describe models of retirement and patterns of transitioning to full retirement or part-time work in older adults.

  3. Identify and describe the generational and cultural differences in interpretation of work and retirement.

  4. Describe therapy perspectives on work and retirement as well as the roles of occupational therapy practitioners and physical therapy practitioners in aiding older adult workers to continue to work and/or to transition to retirement.

  5. Describe the various types of work and volunteer occupations (i.e., named and familiar activities) typically performed by older adults.

  6. Describe legislative and policy issues around the world as related to retirement.

Clinical Vignette

Maria Alvarez has reached the age at which she planned to retire. For the past 30 years, she has been saving for her retirement. She contributed to her company's 401K and has been working with a financial advisor for the past 10 years of her employment to be sure she will have enough money to carry her through her entire retirement and allow her to participate in activities she has planned. Nonetheless, like many older adults, Maria worries sometimes that she may not have adequate financial resources to fully retire without some employment to supplement her retirement funds.

Maria plans to volunteer with a local literacy agency and the Red Cross. She also wants to continue to be active in her church and to travel around the United States to areas she has been unable to visit when she worked. At 72 years old, Maria is in good health and has not been placed on any medications or given any restrictions by her physician. Her husband of 45 years passed away 5 years ago. She receives benefits from his retirement plan as well. She lives within 1 to 2 hours of her three children and seven grandchildren. She hopes to be involved in their activities and to host family holiday events at her home. She has been looking forward to her retirement, although the loss of her husband 5 years earlier has affected her greatly. However, she intends to fully enjoy her transition to retiree and to pursue the many other activities she has planned for in the years leading up to this day.

  1. How adequate are Maria's plans for activities in retirement? What has she included that will be helpful? What might be missing?

  2. What potential barriers to successful retirement might interfere with her quality of life once she retires?

As "Baby Boomers," or those persons born between 1946 and 1964, move into their 60s and 70s, more and more individuals ...

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