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How Old is Too Old to Work?

Posted July 20, 2011 9:55 AM

As roughly 44 million baby boomers hit retirement age over the next decade, the problem of how and when to step aside is becoming a hot-button issue. As more boomers opt to stay on the job, many employers would prefer to see them go. Do you find that ageism is an issue in engineering fields? Or, are experienced workers valued for their years of expertise?

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#1

Re: How Old is Too Old to Work?

07/20/2011 11:20 AM

I find it to be a issue that is different for every person involved.

I have seen guys in their early 80's driving semi rigs with higher levels of skill and control than people a 1/3 their age and I have seen people barely out of high school that are and will probably always be completely useless as workers.

I don't think there should be a specific age that people should stop working but a simple competency level that needs to be established.

That standard should start with the government officials and work down from there being that is where far too many incompetent half wits and burned out old farts show up for work now!

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#2

Re: How Old is Too Old to Work?

07/20/2011 2:02 PM

You're never too old to work. I plan on working right up until either my mind or body gives way... I might end up working for myself, or for fun, but I'll do it right up til I'm either buried or my kids put me in a home. (hope not the later)

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#24
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Re: How Old is Too Old to Work?

07/25/2011 5:13 AM

I agree with you. when above 60 year old person is ready to climb Mount Everest why not others who fit to work continue working?

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#3

Re: How Old is Too Old to Work?

07/20/2011 3:29 PM

I plan to work as long as possible as well. Let's face it, like exercise, it's use it or lose it.

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Re: How Old is Too Old to Work?

07/20/2011 10:50 PM

There's one "one size fits all" answer, it depends on the person and the job.

Personally, I've noticed my ability to concentrate has rapidly diminished after the age of about 50. I find it much more difficult to learn (say) new programming languages, I suspect I'm turning stupid but it's more likely I'm turning normal.

My wife and investment adviser have informed me that I can retire when I'm 75.

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#5

Re: How Old is Too Old to Work?

07/21/2011 1:05 AM

Milton Garland worked in refrigeration until the age of 104.

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#6

Re: How Old is Too Old to Work?

07/21/2011 3:04 AM

In general, it depends on the kind of work. If someone is occupied with manual, hard labour (e.g. a builder or a transporter) is nearly impossible to work till the age of (e.g.) 65. And, even if he will be capable to do it, he will not be efficient.

In the enginnering and scientific field the age limit can be rather high as the main part of the work is 'mental'. However, is unavoidable that the productivity is reduced as the years pass by (especially over the age of 60). I have the sense that most companies have the policy to employ mainly young people (who are efficient but not so experienced) and a few older people (who are experienced and are the mentors of younger ones). This is a problem, as many older engineers become unemployed (and it's really hard for them to get a job).

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#19
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Re: How Old is Too Old to Work?

07/21/2011 6:15 PM

Hi G.K.

It's funny how old age sets in and accepting that physical abilities are not what they used to be.

The mental thing will stay and changing or looking at things from a different angles, even in old age, can be fun.

See what I mean?

Wish I could stay 60 forever, Ky.

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Re: How Old is Too Old to Work?

07/22/2011 2:54 AM

Hi ky... I wish I could go back at the age of 30 and stay there forever... ...

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Re: How Old is Too Old to Work?

07/22/2011 3:04 AM

Hmm...could I go back to the age of 60 and stay there forever?

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Re: How Old is Too Old to Work?

07/22/2011 4:10 AM

What currency?

Think I can help

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Re: How Old is Too Old to Work?

07/22/2011 4:08 AM

No way! 30? No way

My chances of being killed by something or 'what ever' were too high at that age to ever want to risk it all again. I know what blasphemy is and I am not religious. It is truly a miracle that I am still alive but I suppose that many of us can count our selves very lucky.

All in its own good time, which can only be right now.

Have one on me, Ky.

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#7

Re: How Old is Too Old to Work?

07/21/2011 6:03 AM

Age should not be a factor any more than sex/color/religion/etc., but as stated elsewhere, competency should be the measure.

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#8

Re: How Old is Too Old to Work?

07/21/2011 7:00 AM

In engineering, if one can work, one should.

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Re: How Old is Too Old to Work?

07/21/2011 7:36 AM

As per company regulation I retired at age of 58 but was offered 2 years extension which I politely refused. I continued to work from home till age of 65. I think retirement age of 65 is good so that one can relax and do the other activities which you could not do during your working life. You are not supposed to work throughout your active life age, there are so many other activities you can engage yourself. Also it will create opportunities for young generation.

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#10

Re: How Old is Too Old to Work?

07/21/2011 8:02 AM

I don't like the article as it uses the case of lawyers. It uses the managing partners bias. As for every partner that retires the firm takes over his clients. The firm gets the cash for the work the partner has done for years of support to these clients. With out that they would not be there. The Managing Partner wants new clients to bring in more revenue some thing a new lawyer would have to do if to make partner. With out a client base the new lawyers a dead fish and would be let go.

This does not fit the main stream work force.

Some of the greatest work was done by people in the later part of life. Where would we be if we told them that they couldn't do that their too old. Our we over looked that work because of their age.

The mind we can't read another person's. There for we can not fully determine someone's ability at any age. Each person's ability to reason is different. Each person ages differently. The work force should only be based on what one is contributing not possibilities of youth.

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#11

Re: How Old is Too Old to Work?

07/21/2011 8:20 AM

IMO, actual age is somewhat of a red herring. The real issue is the cost of older workers to the corporation.

Older implies higher salaries and higher secondary costs such as longer earned vacations and more lost time due to health and family issues. It's pretty well established that older workers cost more.

If a company can wean out older workers in favor of younger (cheaper) workers the bottom line improves. In my experience, the bean counters gloss over the intangible values of older workers in favor of the bottom line. It's just too dang hard to measure those intangibles and factor them into their quarterly reports.

Hooker

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#12

Re: How Old is Too Old to Work?

07/21/2011 8:24 AM

Kick the bucket with your boots on

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#13

Re: How Old is Too Old to Work?

07/21/2011 9:11 AM

I agree that each case is different. I am 65 now and working steadily, however I am gradually reducing the physical labor and increasing the mental. As an Engineering Technician in electronics I spent my younger years working in the telephone company radio engineering department. I was transfered to this location in 1969 and being a 3rd world country I got out of the Engineers Cubicle Syndrome and was allowed to do a wide variety of things not normally permitted up north. A few examples might help explain what I mean. In the engineering department we were responsable for radio, carrier, microwave, satellite, submarine communications cables, etc etc etc. We were having a problem with intermittent interruptions on the submarine cable so I took a scuba diving course, graduated, and then dove on the cable with a special camera. I found the problem, photograhed it and then we had a cable laying ship contracted to lay a new shore end. In the microwave area I got my pilots license and flew small planes around the island photographing potential radio tower sites. Then we would go in by foot to explore the potential sites cutting through the jungle with machetes. As the years went by in this working environment I accumulated a virtually uncountable amount of experiences. Over the past 3 years all this intense physical and mental labor started taking its toll. Battery lifting caused a spinal hernia requiring surgery and an electrical accident hurt my left hand. However my mind was a storehouse of thousands of experiences and I discovered that I had a large following of people who wanted my opinion on how to do something or my design to build it or my ideas on solving difficult problems. I was more in demand now than when I was younger!!!

So as I got older of course I had to ease up on the physical labor however I discovered how useful my accumulation of experiences was for my present survival. I am actually busier now than 10 years ago. The force now comes from my mind more than my hands.

In conclusion I would say that age can be a benefit if you have been doing a lot in your youger years and gaining experience. The accumulated experiences in my life are what guarantees me a steady flow of work now.

One last detail. In my case I have more power of adquisition now than I did 30 years ago so I can accumulate complex tools and test equipment that I couldnt do at a younger age. The possesion and knowledge of use of this equipment also give me an edge over the younger Engineer. Only now I get a helper to carry them for me. A complicated electronic tool can be dangerous in the hands of somebody who does not fully understand it. Bottom line in all this is EXPERIENCE and this comes over time.

For those who were unfortunate in thier younger years by having a dull repetitive job getting older presents more problems. People in jobs like that should try doing a lot of other things during thier spare time as this can add experiences and build a solider base.

Best Regards

John

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#14

Re: How Old is Too Old to Work?

07/21/2011 10:13 AM

The glory of the young is their strength; the gray hair of experience is the splendor of the old.

-- King Solomon, circa 800 BC (Proverbs 20:29)

Asking "how old is too old to work" is like asking "how grainy is too grainy for sand to be part of the beach?" It's rather a silly question. Graininess is a characteristic of sand, and sand is part of a beach. One's age is a characteristic of one's humanity, and humans work together, or play together, or argue together etc… The fact that one is an old human or a young human does not make one less human. To paraphrase Horton the Elephant, "A person's a person no matter his age."

As long is one is a person, one should do the things that people do: work, play, complain, rejoice, declare opinions on CR4 or around water coolers, and so on and so forth. The issue is not so much one's ability as one's humanity.

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#15

Re: How Old is Too Old to Work?

07/21/2011 10:30 AM

Retirement can be job specific. A policeman or a fireman may lose too much of their physical ability to preform their jobs to a competent level at earlier stages of their lives. A teacher, librarian, many engineering functions, are much less physically demanding and thus the person should be capable of working at their chosen career paths later in life. It will be difficult to tell the person with the physically demanding job to work longer if he/she is not capable.

One aspect of retirement that needs to be considered is the availability of a sustainable pension. The mandated retirement in Greece was 58 or 61 years of age but was only supported by non-guaranteed government funding. The result, as we know, has been disastrous to the Greek economy. People live longer and were collecting pensions longer. That means fewer working people to support a growing group of pensioners. Where I live, many of the smart pensions are invested and fully fundable. These civil service pensions are equally contributed by the civil servants and the taxpayer. The teacher's pensions fit into this category and as a result many are retiring in their early 50's. The pension fund for the teachers is fully in control of the teachers and they invest it in things like the Blue Jay baseball team. It seems to me many of the civil service pensions are similarly funded but not in control of the group funded. The moneys for pensions are rolled into the general revenues of government. The real onus will fall back on the taxpayer as more of these people retire. The same scenario occurs in business but most often the contribution from the employer is nil or much less than dollar for dollar. Personally, I am against taxpayers supporting the civil servants fund at all. All the monies should be contributed by the group and they can do what they want with it.

My personal experience as a self employed owner was to try to work as long as I could. Health is a factor and can force things upon us we don't like. It happened to me and I actually lost my driving license. That loss was a deciding factor for me to retire. I was fortunate enough to invest in property with some income as well as tax sheltered retirement funds. Otherwise, I really would not be a pension collector. As an employer, I could only provided the mechanism to grow a pension but was never a contributor to the employee's fund.

Everyone has their own circumstance but overall I would say to work as long as possible. You can slow down work in stages as you age. Work less hours and be more of a mentor to younger employees. Always, enjoy whatever you do in life. It is your only kick at the cat so purr. If you do not like working quit and find another path in life.

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#16

Re: How Old is Too Old to Work?

07/21/2011 12:58 PM

I agree with most here that age is no barrier to the ability to work. Health certainly is, though. Which is why it would behoove everyone to learn as much as they can about health and then act on that knowledge.

Actually, most people are somewhat apprehensive about "retirement" because of the ingrained habit of going to work every day. Many "stay at home" wives are almost driven to insanity after their husbands retire and are underfoot all day long. The truth is we lead separate lives to a larger degree than we take note of most of the time. And life is so busy that much of our "free" time is taken up with personal responsibilities, not leisure activities.

The "elephant in the room" reason for not wanting to "slow down" or retire is our mortality. Retirement is like a label that definitely emboldens one's age and we can't ignore that we are much nearer death. A sharp, active mind can be a good indicator of health, but not always.

I think it would be better if we changed the word for that phase of life to Mentor. "Oh, he's a mentor now." Sounds much better than "retired" and carries more dignity and allegiance to one's hard earned life of experience and, hopefully, wisdom.

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#17

Re: How Old is Too Old to Work?

07/21/2011 1:03 PM

The more you are active, better will be your health and your dependence on others will be less.

Hence work sincerely as long as you can.

RAJESWARI

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#18

Re: How Old is Too Old to Work?

07/21/2011 4:05 PM

Would like the question to be rephrased as, "Why should a number designate a person's inability to work?"

Know many who are still sharper and capable of critical thinking than thrice the age of college grads today...Experience still counts for something i should hope. And why not reward someone for their experience and years of loyalty on the job? If performance and productivity is an issue, then retirement may be legitimate.

But to force retirement just bc a person has reached a "number"?

Remember "Logan's Run"? Though we aren't killing anyone?? and the cutoff was 30 years old, that number ain't far from 40....

Why not put a number to where it really counts: politicians and bankers???

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