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Working through your golden years


Working through your golden years

Reaching the golden retirement age of 65 once meant leaving the daily grind of a 9-to-5 job to chip balls at the golf course or travel cross-country in a recreational vehicle.

But today, according to the Department of Labor, more than 4.3 million Americans over the age of 65 are choosing work over retirement.

With improvements in health care, longer life spans and growing opportunities for elder workers, it's estimated that by 2010 there will be more workers over the age of 55 than under 24. While some retirees are too strapped financially to forgo working altogether in their golden years, many work not because they have to, but because they enjoy it.

Mary Wells, 83, has been working at a St. Louis-area fast-food restaurant for more than two years. Wells, who keeps busy assisting with food preparation and maintaining the dining area, works as much for the camaraderie as she does for the paycheck.

"I like being with people and talking to customers in the dining room," Wells stated in a news release. "I really enjoy my job, and I'll work here as long as they'll have me and as long as I'm able."

While retirees enjoy the social interaction and the extra money in their bank accounts, business owners and managers benefit from the strong work ethic many seniors have as well as their enthusiasm in coming to work.

Ben Connley, 78, has been a crew member at a fast-food restaurant in Everett, Wash., for 13 years.

As a maintenance worker, Connley is responsible for cleaning windows and restrooms, as well as hanging promotional decals and posters. It's physical work, but Connley prefers it over a sedentary life-style. And the paycheck is a welcome addition to his fixed income.

"Social Security doesn't go quite far enough," he stated in the release. "But this is an enjoyable place to work, and I'd rather get some fresh air and move around than sit in a chair all day."

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