Healthcare and Medicine Reference
Forced Early Retirement
Older workers often have little choice about whether they continue
working full-time. Mor-Barak and Tynan (1993) point out that “older
workers are more likely to lose their jobs than younger workers in
instances such as plant closings and corporate mergers” (p. 45). The
authors note that many businesses can't or won't deal with life events
faced by older workers such as “widowhood and caring for ailing spouses,
and as a result many older workers are forced to retire earlier than
planned” (p. 45).
De Vaus and Wells (2007) found that sudden forced retirement signifi-
cantly increased negative feelings and decreased positive feelings and mar-
ital cohesion. Retirees who were forced out of work and did not regain
employment over 3 years appeared to miss out on the retirement 'honey-
moon,' and were less likely to report benefits after 3 years.
Writing about the loss of work and its impact on older men, Levant
(1997) says that, as men lose their good-provider roles, the experience
results in “severe gender role strain” (p. 221), which affects relationships
and can be disruptive to the point of ending otherwise strong marriages.
Because older adults are more likely to lose high-level jobs because of
downsizing and age discrimination, social contacts decrease and many
otherwise healthy and motivated workers must deal with increased levels
of isolation and loneliness in retirement. Schneider (1998) points out that
many of us are workaholics and that, when work is taken away or jobs are
diminished in complexity and creativity, many older adults experience a
decrease in physical and mental health. And while early retirement is tou-
ted as a way to achieve the good life while still young, the experience is a
complex and even wrenching one in which older adults who are finan-
cially able to retire often have little ability to handle extra time, have
failed to make sound retirement plans, and find out quickly that not
working takes away social contacts, status, and a way to organize time.
For many healthy, work-oriented, and motivated older adults, volunteer
and civic roles are not at all what they are looking for. They want to con-
tinue to work, to contribute, and to receive the financial and social status
and benefits related to work.
Early retirement is a complex issue for many older adults who may
feel unappreciated and mistreated at work and see retirement as a way of
coping with low morale and stress. Often it isn't a solution, since many
early retirees haven't thought through retirement as a life style change and
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