So, there we were, twitching in a paroxysm of sticker shock on the floor of the pharmacy, weeping, drooling, hyperventilating, wetting our pants: one of my prescriptions now cost over $600 dollars for a three month supply, an increase of approximately umpteenbazillion percent. WTF?
After the pharmacist and several other employees helped us up with winches and smelling salts, I had a vision of my wife and I sitting in wheelchairs at the intersection down the road with our cardboard sign that read: "Old and indigent. Please help," along with the required, "God bless."
Like many of my Boomer contemporaries, I don't foresee retiring to the golf course, or the cruise ship, or the garden, the garage, or even the couch. I don't see us spending our supposed retirement traveling the world playing Pokemon Go or hunkering down with our Kindles.
Instead, I suspect that we'll need to be generating an income - not through our meager investments but through the sweat on our carbuncled brows and the toil of our arthritic hands - until we draw our last ragged breaths.
Golden years my ass.
Act II. Elderly Couple Enters Stage Left.
Ah, but what good is it to complain, right? Besides, here we are in the land of opportunity. The truth is that there are a growing number of Boomers that, after careers that may have been slightly less than fulfilling, are eager to take a stab at something more meaningful (provided it isn't pitch in the major leagues or become an Olympic gymnast.)
Combine that ambition with the stark truth that social security, Medicare and senior discounts aren't likely to support a family of mice, much less of couple of full-grown human beings, and we're likely to see more and more Boomers pawning that gold watch for a small business loan, or even a snazzy new suit.
Stories about Boomers re-entering the workforce for an encore abound. In fact, there is an organization that goes by that very name - Encore - whose mission is, in their own words to "build a movement to tap the skills and experience of those in midlife and beyond to improve communities and the world." As such, Encore.org offers a plethora of resources for those that still carry the spirit of the altruistic sixties in their heart of hearts and are eager to "give back."
Unlike the standard job sites, Encore.org is a multi-faceted initiative devoted to transforming what has to date been positioned as a looming disaster - millions of Americans entering their retirement years - "into a diverse and dynamic solution to some of society's most persistent challenges." For opportunity-seekers, the organization combines higher education, fellowships, conferences, a robust networking infrastructure and dozens of example of Encore-supported engagements. For employers, Encore provides, well...folks like you and me!
Results? In Encore's words, "more than 4.5 million Americans are already part of the encore movement, sharing their skills, passion and expertise in social-impact encores - and another 21 million are ready to join them, most within the next five years."
For most college-educated Boomers, Encore.org seems worth some serious investigation.
And Then There's Bob Weinstein
We might expect that online resources devoted to helping Boomers cover umpteenbazillion percent increases in their prescription costs would be encouraging. That is, everybody except Bob Weinstein and his site, WorkForce50.com. Bob, a self-described "contrarian and curmudgeon," thinks Encore is bullshit, and he makes no bones about it:
"This may disappoint you, but I'm not going to write about twilight, second-act, encore or third-act careers, because they don't exist. They're BS concocted terms responsible for furthering the age divide."
The truth is probably somewhere between the "help save the world" positioning of Encore and the "tell it like it is" perspective of Mr. Weinstein. And part of that truth is, even for those of us that avail ourselves of the many job-oriented resources for Boomers - sites like...
...it's not as if companies are particularly eager to hire us. That is especially true if we, for some unknown reason, actually look or act our age. I washed the grey out of my hair and had my liver spots zapped for my last successful face-to-face job interview 18 years ago. Since retiring from that gig I've been going it more or less alone - free, freelancing (think Tom Petty song), hair turning white and liver spots thriving.
Time to Get Resourceful
For people that like to make things - oil paintings, books, articles, widgets, needlepoints, gourmet dinners, how-to videos, recordings, pottery, jewelry...the opportunities abound. These days, taking our creations to market is easier than ever, as is the potential for profit. Sites like Etsy and Shopify will help you sell just about anything, from sand candles to macramé birdcages. And there is no shortage of marketing advice either.
For those that have developed a deep expertise in a particular subject matter or skill, there are many ways to leverage your knowledge. I talked about the current content marketing explosion in an earlier post, and the demand continues to grow. If anything has changed, it's the ongoing shift from text to video. Inexpensive tools for making high quality videos with your phone are everywhere, and do-it-yourselfers have been monetizing their Youtube channels and, in some cases, handsomely enhancing their income.
Regardless of what you're selling - your skills, your products, your expertise and related services, your body (kidding!) - you'll in essence be running a business. Hopefully you'll be making piles of money, right? These days, you don't need to be an accountant, or even a bookkeeper, to manage your ledger. There is an abundance of web-based resources that make all the financial stuff easy, even the process of securing a little seed money to get your business going or to keep it growing.
Next Time Around
They say that youth is wasted on the young, hindsight is 20/20, getting old isn't for sissies, and don't look back because you're not headed in that direction. These wonderful aphorisms may all be true, but I imagine most of us might benefit from a do-over - a chance to say no instead of yes, a chance to zig instead of zag, a chance to save instead of spend - if by some miracle we were offered that chance. I also suspect a good number of us might've done a better job saving for our supposed retirement, and that we might have "lived for today" a few days too many, and are now paying the price.
Oh well, I really don't like golf all that much, and lying around on the beach reading novels is bad for the skin. Gardening too, plus it's bad for the back and the knees. Cruise ship food is a sure ticket to weight problems not to mention indigestion, watching too much TV is an invitation to dementia, and there are only so many naps you can fit into a day.
Besides, we're Boomers. We have places to go, people to see, things to do, dreams to chase, books to write, pictures to take, and above all, work to be done! So bring on those so-called golden years and we'll work our way through - we wouldn't have it any other way, right?