WASHINGTON (NNPA) - President Barack Obama touched on something very poignant in his proclamation when he authorized the month of May to serve as Older Americans Month. That is that many Americans who are of retirement age are remaining in the workforce instead of simply calling it quits.
A 2008 survey from AARP, a non-profit membership organization for people over 50 years of age, found that seven out of 10 working adults between the ages of 45 and 74 plan to work during retirement or never retire at all.
The number of Black workers aged 65 and older almost doubled from a decade ago, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. These statistics mirror a trend that spans across all races. And while the state of the economy may be an underlying factor for the uptick, more and more seniors would rather use their later years staying active than resting. Many retirees find that working keeps them occupied and helps them stay active.
''One thing about retiring is that you can stop whenever you want,'' says New York City native JoAnne Challenger.
She recently retired from her job as a principal of a Brooklyn elementary school but quickly found that she had too much time on her hands. So she took a part-time job as an assistant college professor at Mercy College.
Challenger says her retirement pension keeps her pretty stable financially. So she may retire from her new job in a couple of years - after she's done paying her daughter's college tuition next year.
As an assistant professor, Challenger works with people who want to be teachers. She says it keeps her busy, but at a less rigorous pace than her old job as a school principal.
''You just have to keep your mind active,'' she shares. ''When I was working I was so very busy. But [when] I retired it all just stopped. So I wasn't ready to stop working, I was just ready to quit at that pace.''
She said many of her friends who are retired are still working.
AARP released a new study last week on older Americans ''recareering'' and it reveals that many retirees, like Challenger, do not abruptly retire but rather transition from ''long-time careers to short-term jobs that serve as bridges to retirement before exiting the labor force completely.''
The study also found that those surveyed reported that they dealt with less stress and enjoyed flexible work schedules in their new jobs,'' the study revealed.
''Many older workers are ready to give up the long-time grind, and look for stimulating jobs with flexible schedules as they begin the process toward retirement,'' said Susan Reinhard, senior vice president of the AARP Public Policy Institute. ''The study shows dramatically that workers are putting a premium on reduced stress as they downshift a bit.''
Mariah Ann Baylor, 77, retired as an assistant cafeteria manager of a Milford, Va. middle school after 30 years on the job. For the last nine years she's been supplementing her income by baby sitting and doing home care.
''I've been doing different jobs taking care of people who are sick,'' she said. ''I love people. I love taking care of people. I love children.''
Baylor said that even though she puts herself on a budget she doesn't have the extra money that she used to have. But, it helps with her peace of mind, she says. ''I'm not looking to stop anytime soon … The only thing that can hinder me is my health but I'm still in good health.''