Silver Spring, MD (May 16, 2018) – Most of Mary Longwell's peers at Riderwood, an Erickson Living retirement community in Silver Spring, MD, have already retired, but she enjoys her job as a speech language pathologist so much that she's still at it after 25 years in Baltimore County Public Schools.
"I really enjoy working with the children that I service. I truly believe in effecting a change for them in their communication styles in order for them to be successful in the academic classroom," she says.
Longwell works with students in Pre-K to fifth grade who have needs with articulation as well as those who have specific communication needs in the areas of speech, language, and social skills, either individually or in the classroom environment.
Though she faces a 45-60-minute commute each way, and she has to wake up early, and she doesn't get home until after 6 p.m., to her, it's about making a difference. It's about helping the next generation of students become leaders by improving their academic skills in reading, math, and science as well as their ability to communicate effectively.
Longwell is part of a national demographic employment trend: employment rates for older adults are the highest they've been in 55 years. Almost 19% of people 65 or older were working at least part time in the second quarter of 2017, according to the U.S. jobs report (June 2017).
What's more, a rapidly growing number of Americans are continuing to work beyond their sixty-fifth birthday according to PEW Research Center.
Despite those burdens of the working life, home life just got easier for Longwell and her husband, Frank, about a year and a half ago when they moved to Riderwood.
There, they live in a well-appointed, maintenance-free apartment home surrounded by on-campus amenities, 2,500 peers, and hundreds of activities and interest groups.
"It's nice not having a big house to take care of. Having a smaller environment is easier to keep orderly and neat, especially when I'm working three days a week," Longwell says. "Plus, we love the fact we are not shoveling snow off a long, twisting driveway and mowing an acre-sized yard. And let's not forget being involved in the constantly growing number of household maintenance tasks."
The days she works and gets home late, she and Frank get their dinner to go from a campus restaurant and eat in their apartment.
"When I'm not working, then we can enjoy going out at Riderwood to the different restaurants and getting together with different people. I see that changing in the future when I do retire; I'll have more time to get involved in the activities," she says.
Riderwood Executive Director Gary Hibbs says Longwell is a role model in the way she chooses to share her talents and skills. "Our residents truly love what they are doing, and they are doing it with enthusiasm," Hibbs says. "Mary brings a wealth of wisdom and experience to her job, which is a great benefit to Baltimore County Public Schools and its students."
Though she's not fully retired yet, Longwell says going part time has been a positive change and something she suggests to anyone of retirement age who isn't quite ready to retire full time.
"One of the biggest things, I think, is that you need to balance work, activities that you enjoy, and family. So many times, you hear that your career is everything, but it's been really nice that I could go part time. It allows more balance in my life. I can still work, but it is an easy drive to Philadelphia to see our children and grandchildren."
"Find a balance so that you're not just dedicated to one thing; you're dedicated to a variety of things that you value in life and really take advantage of appreciating them," she adds.
About Riderwood: Riderwood, one of 19 continuing care retirement communities managed by Erickson Living®, is situated on a scenic 120-acre campus in Silver Spring, Maryland. The community is located in Montgomery County and is home to more than 2,500 residents. Additional information about Riderwood can be found at RiderwoodCommunity.com.