In the early years of her career as a flight attendant, Elaine Packard says she thought she would retire at the age of 55 and start traveling for enjoyment, rather than as her career.
But in 2006, on the cusp of her 60s, she made a career change, choosing to sell residential real estate.
Now, as she approaches her 75th birthday, Elaine is still working. She says she appreciates the multi-generational aspect of the real estate industry and experiences satisfaction when she helps young families purchase their first homes, or helps older clients get a great deal when they sell their houses.
While working with an older couple that was interested in moving to a retirement community, Elaine discovered Wind Crest, an Erickson Senior Living community in Highlands Ranch, Colo. - and she liked what she saw.
“It was a game-changer,” says Elaine, who moved to Wind Crest in June 2021. “It’s ideal for what I do. I have an office set up in my apartment home where I do a lot of my research. It’s just wonderful having this space.”
A self-described “people person,” Elaine says she loves engaging with the Wind Crest community.
“I truly respect the people who work in the community,” she says. “And the people who live here are phenomenal. I enjoy my neighbors tremendously. We have wonderful conversations. They learn from me, and I learn from them.”
Elaine says the financial security of working is just one reason why she’s still on the job. “It’s stimulating. It keeps you involved in the community and mentally active. I enjoy it. I can’t imagine my life without being able to work and serve other people.”
As for the future, she says, “I will quit working at some point. There are tons of things I want to do. I’d love to get back to traveling, and I’m very active in my church community.”
A growing trend
Elaine represents a growing trend: people are working beyond what was traditionally considered “retirement age.”
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, of the 148 million people in the American workforce as of January 2021, 25.5 million (17.2%) were between 55 and 64 years of age and 9.8 million (6.6%) were 65 or older. By 2026, the bureau predicts that 25% of the American workforce will be over 55.
One reason why many people are putting off full retirement is that we are living longer. In 1950, the average life expectancy in the U.S. was 67.3 years. By 2020, the average life expectancy had increased to 78.8 years.
A recent survey of people between the ages of 60 and 75, conducted by a national real estate financing company, found that nearly half of the 1,500 respondents said they plan to work part-time once they retire from full-time work. About 18% said they plan to work past the age of 70, and 12% said they plan to work full-time indefinitely.
‘It keeps your mind active’
While most of his peers have long since retired, Lou Daniello, 83, is still on the job. A licensed general contractor in Florida, Lou’s company specializes in restoring concrete balconies in high-rise buildings.
“As long as I’m healthy, I will continue to work because I enjoy going to work. It keeps your mind active,” he says.
In April 2021, Lou moved to Devonshire, the Erickson Senior Living community at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
“I sought this out because Devonshire is considered one of the top places,” says Lou. “It’s an easier life here. I don’t have to worry about real estate taxes or maintaining the place.”
“I’m really enjoying the best of both worlds - being semiretired while working,” he adds. “Devonshire has a fabulous fitness center that I go to regularly. I can’t golf the way I used to, so I do other things like playing pickleball.”
Lou is not the only one who’s happy about his move to Devonshire. “My son is happy I’m here,” he says. “When I told him I was moving, he said ‘you can’t go wrong with Devonshire.’”
Whether you turn a hobby into a side hustle, pick up a part-time shift, or continue on with your career, know that there is a growing population of retirees who enjoy going to work, just like you.