Experts say illness, injury, layoffs and caregiving responsibilities often force older workers to leave their jobs sooner than they'd like.
According to the poll from
According to government data, about 1 in 5 people 65 and older was working or actively looking for a job in June.
For many, money has a lot to do with the decision to keep working.
"The average retirement age that we see in the data has gone up a little bit, but it hasn't gone up that much," says
When asked how financially comfortable they feel about retirement, 14% of Americans under the age of 50 and 29% over 50 say they feel extremely or very prepared, according to the poll. About another 4 in 10 older adults say they do feel somewhat prepared, while just about one-third feel unprepared. By comparison, 56% of younger adults say they don't feel prepared for retirement.
Among those who are fully retired, 38% said they felt very or extremely prepared when they retired, while 25% said they felt not very or not at all prepared.
"One of the things about thinking about never retiring is that you didn't save a whole lot of money," says
She searched for work in the immediate aftermath of her layoff, a process she describes as akin to "banging my head against a wall." Finding
"Sometimes I fantasize that if I win the lottery, I'd go back to
Meanwhile, Americans have mixed assessments of how the aging workforce affects workers: 39% think people staying in the workforce longer is mostly a good thing for American workers, while 29% think it's more a bad thing and 30% say it makes no difference.
A somewhat higher share, 45%, thinks it has a positive effect on the
Working Americans who are 50 and older think the trend is more positive than negative for their own careers — 42% to 15%. Those younger than 50 are about as likely to say it's good for their careers as to say it's bad.
Just 6% of fully retired AP-NORC poll respondents said they left the labor market before turning 50.
But remaining in the workforce may be unrealistic for people dealing with unexpected illness or injuries. For them, high medical bills and a lack of savings loom large over day-to-day expenditures.
"People like me, who are average, everyday working people, can have something catastrophic happen, and we lose everything because of medical bills," says
At 47, he was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. Now 57 and living in
Zarzecki has since helped found Movement Disorder Education and Exercise, a nonprofit organization that offers support and treatment programs to those with similar diseases and certain traumatic brain injuries. He has also helped lobby state and national lawmakers to address rising prescription drug prices.
He receives a pension and health insurance through the state, but he spends more than
"I can't afford, nor will my insurance cover, the most modern medication there is for Parkinson's," he says. "Eat, heat or treat. These are decisions that people in my position have to make. When it's cold out, or if it's real hot out, do you eat, heat (your home) or treat (your ailment)?"
EDITOR'S NOTE —
The AP-NORC Center survey of 1,423 adults was conducted by
Respondents were first selected randomly using address-based sampling methods and later were interviewed online or by phone.
AP-NORC Center: http://www.apnorc.org