Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014

Society thinks life ends after 55 years of age, but this 82-year-old proves that it's actually just beginning

Compiled by Herb Scribner, Deseret News National Edition

Published: Fri, July 11 9:20 p.m. MDT

 An 82-year-old woman is getting the chance of a lifetime to have her own art exhibit. But she's just one of many older workers stepping into the workforce.

An 82-year-old woman is getting the chance of a lifetime to have her own art exhibit. But she's just one of many older workers stepping into the workforce.

(Jupiterimages, Getty Images)

You’d think at 82 years old, you’d want to take things easy.

But for Patricia Ray Guckes, old age was only the beginning. Growing up, Guckes painted image after image, most of her final paintings being no bigger “than a playing card,” according to Reading Eagle.

And now, at age 82, she’s going to have her first artistic exhibit at a show.

“In the ninth decade of her life, that is what Guckes is setting out to do," Reading Eagle reported. "She has enough product. The paintings fill her home, against walls, under beds and even in the shower stalls of a house outfitted with furnishings that look as if they came from the set of ‘Mad Men.’ ”

Guckes joining the workforce as an artist comes at a time when those older than 50 are surprisingly finding more work. The Pew Research Center found that by 2022, about 32 percent of people ages 65 to 74 will be in the workforce. In 2012, that number was at 26.8 percent, Pew reported.

“The agency’s data finds the dividing line is age 55: labor force participation is expected to fall for those under that age who are considered the prime workforce group, and to rise for those above that age,” Pew reported.

Still, despite their increased influence in the workplace, older people are having trouble gaining credibility. (And no, they aren’t taking jobs from the young. Or, at least there’s no data that says such.) As Mitchell Hartman wrote for Marketplace, those older than 55 might be working, but they risk a longer unemployment spell if they lose their job. It’s not just because of their age, but also what their age does to them physically, Hartman wrote.

“When older workers leave the job market for a period of time — for instance, after a layoff, or to care for a spouse or elderly parent — they are more likely to experience a significant decline in pay and job quality (working part-time or on contract) than other age cohorts,” Hartman wrote.

But workplaces may be missing out on something special. Hiring an older worker can actually be good for the office, according a study done in the United Kingdom. It’s not just good for employers. Younger workers enjoy having the older workers around, too.

“They not only serve as mentors to younger staff, but they also don't call in sick as much … and have a great track record for showing up for work on time,” Ann Brenoff wrote for The Huffington Post. “They also are just as technologically savvy as their younger counterparts, the study found.”

Others have commented on why older workers are important in the workplace. Entrepreneur, for instance, wrote about 12 benefits that these kind of workers bring, like being dedicated to the job, on time and honest.

And Chris Farrell of Bloomberg Businessweek agrees. America is aging, and yet it is met with a lot of criticism, Farrell wrote. But the country should start embracing these workers because of their work ethic and what they can bring to offices everywhere.

“Yes, America has an aging population,” says Nicole Maestas, economist at California think-tank the Rand Corp., said to Bloomberg. “The upside of that is a whole generation of people who are interested in anything but retirement.”

Email: hscribner@deseretdigital.com, Twitter: @herbscribner

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1. Anchovey
Provo, UT,
July 10, 2014

Thanks for this very positive story!