Man Overlooking Ocean

The Changing Face of Retirement

The prospect of retirement is evolving. Once thought to be symbolic of a more leisurely lifestyle, today’s retirees often have no plans to slow down their pace. Retirement has become a fluid notion—one in which an older adult may choose to alter the course of his or her career instead of simply ending it. This flexibility may offer older employees a number of routes other than a complete withdrawal from their job – such as changing careers, moving hours from full-time to part-time, or combining work with volunteering. Fortunately, many companies are recognizing the benefits that come from retaining mature, reliable employees who have a wealth of institutional wisdom. Some are even willing to redesign the boundaries of retirement to accommodate talented older employees. Seniors who are approaching retirement, in all of its forms, have more options now than ever before. Working within this flexible retirement climate can lead to the best of both worlds: more free time accompanied by a steady income.

Many retirees are now expanding their education by enrolling in college courses. In response to this influx of older, experienced students, some universities and retirement communities are working together to enable senior enrollments to run as smoothly as possible. The term “university-based retirement communities,” or UBRCs, was coined by a professor at George Mason University and expert in senior housing named Andrew Carle. It describes retirement communities that have a relationship to a nearby college or university and, as a result, offer their residents academic benefits that others cannot.1

A number of seniors are looking beyond the leisure-centered activities associated with retirement communities of the past. Instead of spending their days playing golf or bridge, residents of UBRCs can board a bus to a university campus and attend classes, access the library, observe athletic events and participate in clubs, festivals and lectures. Retirees continue to learn, while building connections with other students on campus. They are motivated by the prospect of staying physically and intellectually active. And although social isolation can present a challenge for many older adults approaching retirement, those residing in a UBRC are less likely to have this concern. Moving to a UBRC does come with a price tag. There is an entry fee, followed by monthly expenses for activities and meals.2

Regardless of what path an older adult pursues in retirement, the fact that Americans are living longer means that the period can easily last as long as twenty years or more. For this reason, the importance of financial planning – and taking steps to safeguard one’s retirement nest egg – can’t be overemphasized. It can make the difference between fulfillment and despair in later life.

1 PBS Newshour; Ellen Rolfes; Why boomers are retiring to college; 4/29/2014;

2 PBS Newshour; Why more seniors are going back to college-to retire; 5/14/2014;