Emotion Versus Retirement Reality

Barbara Morris on one her crankiest days

By Barbara Morris – on one of her crankiest days.

Should old  people work? Society says it’s okay as long as they don’t have to work but want to. We laud those elders who find fun and satisfaction in keeping their nose  to the grindstone. We say, “Isn’t she great for her age” without realizing her chronological number has nothing to do with her greatness. We refuse to accept the truth  that advanced chronological age does not equal or suggest incompetence.

On the other hand, should old people work because financially,  they have to? Absolutely not! “Someone that age should not be working that much”  according to Carlos Valdez (watch video). Carlo is a good, sensitive man, and many like him value old people and believes they should not have to work. It’s a reflection of the universal retiree mantra: : “I’ve worked hard all my life and I deserve my retirement”. No one will deny that.

Here is the problem: Retirement is not a natural human experience. It’s a man-made creation. The human mind and body are not designed to retire. If we choose to ignore that reality,  then the old saying kicks in: Use it or lose it. We may not like that reality, but it IS reality!

Millions of retirees have lost it mentally and physically because they decided (with all sorts of government perks to encourage it) that age 65 (or sooner) is time to retire.  It appeals to our human nature that prefers ease over effort. The result is inevitable: rapid mental and physical decline and it happens insidiously — we don’t see it happening.  Ask most retirees how they are doing and they will say they are doing just fine, enjoying life, yet not realizing many of their competencies are going down the drain.

But back to the video: An online fundraiser was initiated by Carlo Valdez for 89-year-old Derlin Newey — who works 30 hours a week at a Papa John’s in Roy, Utah in order to pay his bills. The fundraiser netted more than $12,000. It will quickly be spent and will produce feel-good feelings for donors for a limited period of time. The effort was a loving intention not to be sneezed at but it won’t allow Derlin to give up his job and sit in an easy chair.

The man who started the fund raiser, Carlo Valdez,  is a generous, caring man who unintentionally gave away the reason so many old people are in decline: He said,

“Somebody at that age should not be working that much” 

Wrong, wrong, wrong! How dare anyone say at what age one should not work? Among other reasons, Carlo is wrong because leisure oriented retirement eventually results in societal expense for those who can no longer take care of themselves economically and health-wise.  Remember, advanced age itself does not automatically result in or cause decline – rather, the culprit is lack of  purposeful effort. That said, elder decline is often good for the financial system because it produces another facet of the economy that  provides products and services for those in decline.

Please note that in the video, Derlin Newey, at 89,  walks quickly, speaks without hesitation and stands  upright. He is NOT a traditional 89-year-old old man. Most important, his financial need has produced a health benefit for him. Working 30 hours a week will keep him mobile and alert for a long time. That’s a blessing. It’s sad that so many of us can’t see it or don’t want to understand its value.


  1. Great article I agree we should be able to work as long as we want to and are able. I’m 71 and still working full time but do get comments that it’s sad I still have to work! I try to explain that I enjoy working but no one seems to believe that and some take pity on me. It won’t stop me from living my life my way!
    Thank you Barbara??

  2. I just don’t see this as “either/or,” Barbara. Doing something nice for someone else is just as natural as working. That the younger man thinks the older man is working too much is a reflection of concern for another human being. Why do we have to make it a cat fight? The older guy needs to work and is reaping the benefits of that, yes. But the younger guy–and all who contributed to his effort to be kind–needs the chance to connect by lending a hand. Getting incensed that he did is silly. Let people be kind. We don’t know others’ intentions and assuming the BEST is a much wiser strategy.

    • It’s unkind to keep people from living a happy fulfilled life because you feel sorry for them. The pizza driver enjoys doing what he does so let him be. He will live longer and stay more mentally and physically alert. Yes, the money was very nice, the feel good feelings were nice, but don’t encourage the man to stop doing what he obviously enjoys or make him feel he’s not living the way he is “supposed” to live at his age. Thanks for sharing your point of view.

Speak Your Mind

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.