SRV in the News: The upside of delayed retirement

A recent article in Maclean’s spoke about the benefits of delaying retirement and staying longer in the workforce. Featured in the business section, the article speaks mainly about the financial reasons for working past the usual retirement age (65 in Canada).

The article raises several important SRV issues however. Firstly, the inherent value of the worker role. In the SRV monograph Wolfensberger (1998) lists some of the benefits that are accorded to those who hold valued roles: “They are allowed, enabled or even requested to live in valued settings, engage in valued activities, and join valued groups; people cherish their relationships with them, and even seek them out and want to be “seen with” them (p. 44). He goes on to state that people who hold valued roles are much more likely to come into contact with other valued people. This is certainly true for the majority of people in the workforce today.

Secondly, the work role can also be seen as a protective measure for those who are at risk of falling into devalued roles. As I’ve previously written about, the elderly are at great risk of being seen in devalued roles (burden of charity, patient, sick or dying, etc.) and negatively stereotyped because of this. Staying in the work role into old age would do much to counteract negative stereotypes and help prevent a possible rapid slide into devalued roles.

At the moment, a debate rages in Canada whether the age of mandatory retirement should be raised from 65 to 67. See an interesting editorial on the topic here.

The work role has been much discussed in disability related circles as well. See the December 2009 SRV Journal for several articles related to this topic.

As always, I welcome your comments, critiques, stories, etc. on the topic.

Steve Tiffany

Posted on January 31, 2012 at 7:43 pm by stevetiff · Permalink
In: Uncategorized · Tagged with: , , , , , , ,

3 Responses

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  1. Written by Kelsey Latshaw
    on February 2, 2012 at 7:49 pm
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    This article fascinates me for various reasons. The author suggests that by retiring later than that of the retiring age (known as 65) it is more likely that that particular person will have less chances of becoming devalued. In doing this people are able to keep relationships among their fellow co-workers (keeping interpersonal interactions), continue bringing in an income, maintain a particular social standing, and take pride in work itself. This is becoming a great commonality because, according to Guyett (2012) (the link integrated into this particular blog), “the vast majority of people tell pollsters they would continue working even if they no longer needed to, including if they won the lottery.” It is because working gives people a sense of value, that they continue their jobs even when they might not need to for economic purposes.
    I think that it is important to note that a particular person of the age of 65 or more might continue working but for volunteer purposes. In many cases, this is still working and gives a person value. Wolfensberger (2004) refers to this idea when he says, “There are even an infinity of valued adult work roles that are unpaid (ie. helper at one’local church, volunteer at a watch group, tutor…)” (p.60). While these jobs are not ones that are paid, he makes the point that they are still jobs and they contribute and can be seen as valued social roles. In understanding this, it is true that many people that are 65 or older are staying it the work force (including volunteers) because of the validity it gives them-meeting their many needs as human beings and allowing them to continue to be seen as valued.

  2. Written by Kaitlyn Fedor
    on February 6, 2012 at 11:54 pm
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    This article interested me because it made me think that delaying retirement is actually good idea. He raised several good points. There may be some situations where retirement is the better choice, but I can see many benefits. Delaying one’s retirement would help with social interaction and maintaining close friendships and relationships with co-workers. They will also be bringing in an income, which will help with finances and maybe even leaving the family with some financial help as well. I agree that maintaining a job in this society makes you valued. According to Wolfensberger, “people who hold valued roles are accorded acceptance, respect, and autonomy”. (p 44) It puts you above those who do not have a job. You are working and providing for society. If you are valued, then you will also come in contact with others who are also valued. I was really interested in his second point; delaying retirement helps decrease the chance of becoming devalued. In our society, we think of the elderly as sickly, ill, and incapable. They become more a burden to us. Wolfensberger says, “A person may be seen as a person of charity, in which case others may feel a duty to take care of the person…”. (p 15) They should be respected and looked up to because of their life experience and wisdom. Once an elderly member retires, they no longer have that valued status. So, having a job and staying active is protecting the risk of becoming devalued. I think it will also maintain a positive attitude knowing that they are capable of contributing and they are not just a burden and no good. This article was very interesting because it presents several good reasons to delay retirement.

    Reference:
    Wolfensberger, W. (2004) “Social Role Valorization. A High- Order Concept For Addressing The Plight Of Societally Devalued People, And For Structuring Human Services (3rd ed.)” Syracuse, NY: Training Institute for Human Service Planning. Leadership and Change Agentry (Syracuse University).

  3. Written by Ashley Sweigart
    on February 8, 2012 at 5:59 pm
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    I found that this article really raised a lot of good points about delayed retirement. I feel that when people retire and reach the age of when they can collect social security, a lot of people believe that the retirees are “living off” of the people who are putting in to social security. But what I don’t think people realize is that these people already paid in to social security, which allowed for the people before them to collect. People look at the retired as someone who is living off of others or society and this devalues their status. So I think by people delaying retirement, the wound that can come from being older and not working dissipates. I also agree with a lot of the reasons that the article gave for people continuing to work. When someone is at a job for 30+ years, they develop friendships among their co-workers. If they were to leave their job, they risk losing these relationships. But by staying employed, these people can keep their friendships going. Also, a job can give someone a sense of purpose. There are several instances in the media where famous people have retired and died shortly after they stopped working. Their job can often give them a sense of purpose and when this is gone, there is no reason to live. I think delaying retirement is a great thing. It can give people a sense of purpose, make them a valued member of society, and keep them from being viewed as a burden.

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