The Older Worker Essay

The Older Worker Essay

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The Older Worker

The workplace for older adults is becoming a dynamic space rather than a unidirectional journey leading to retirement. Work life for older adults is situated in a dynamic pattern of periods of active employment, temporary disengagement from the workplace, and reentry into the same or a new career. The new older worker is developing a third stage of working life, the period beyond the traditional retirement age and final disengagement from the work role. The third age of life has been associated with choice, personal fulfillment, and liberation (Soulsby 2000). Using this idea, we posit a third stage of working life where older workers are active agents negotiating various roles within the workspace. The actions, depending on life circumstances, might include the decision to remain in, retire from, or return to periods of part-time, full-time, or part-season work. Thus, although workplaces are searching for ways to increase productivity, older workers are asking for increased career development opportunities and yet are still neglected by most workplaces. This publication discusses some of the misconceptions about older workers and the reality of a more active and involved older adult work force.

There Is an Age When One Becomes an Older Worker: The Age Myth

There appears to be considerable variation in the concept of older worker as defined by age alone. The term older worker extends from 40 to 75 years of age. When workers at age 40 are referred to as older workers, age is linked to beginning thoughts about retirement decisions (Rosen and Jerdee 1986), the decline in training opportunities (Cooke 1995), the dispelling of myths about the productivity of an aging work force (Kaeter 1995a), or the need for ...


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... Express Their Views.” Generations 22, no. 1 (Spring 1998): 34-39.

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Soulsby, J. Learning in the Fourth Age. Leicester, England: National Institute of Adult Continuing Education, 2000.

Stalker, P. “Wiser Policies for Older Workers.” World of Work no. 12 (May-June 1995): 22-23.

Sterns, H., and Miklos, S. “The Aging Worker in a Changing Environment.” Journal of Vocational Behavior 47, no. 3 (December 1995): 248-268.

Sullivan, S., and Duplaga, E. “Recruiting and Retaining Older Workers for the New Millennium.” Business Horizons 40, no. 6 (November-December 1997): 65-69.

Yeatts, D.; Folts, W.; and Knapp, J. “Older Workers Adaptation to a Changing Workplace: Employment Issues for the 21st Century.” Educational Gerontology 25, no. 4 (June 1999): 338-347.

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