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Independent expert answers
on psychiatry and psychology

Age discrimination (ageism)

Abstract: I don´t want to be forced to stop working just because I reach the age 65.

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Age discrimination (ageism)

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Written by: Gunborg Palme, certified psychologist, certified psychotherapist, teacher and tutor of psychotherapy.
First version: 22 Jul 2008.
Latest revision: 27 Feb 2012.

I am 65 years old and soon I will be forced to retire. I am fully healthy – never had an absence because of illness.

My job is really interesting and stimulating and I do not want to quit. Work makes my days meaningful. Perhaps I could consider working six hours a day instead of eight.

I have tried to avoid retirement but it seems that I have to. I feel like I am discriminated because of my age and I am concerned about my financial situation. I hate being forced to stint myself.

As a pensioner I do not only lose income, but also workmates, Christmas dinners, office parties, conferences, in other words, a lot of possibilities to have a more enjoyable life along with my work. Of course, there are people who dream about playing golf or working in their summer houses, and I do not want to stop them from realizing their dreams. However, those who want to work should not be forced to retire.

Answer:

Unemployment has always been a fear for people in all times. However, only citizens who have passed the pensionable age are forced to be unemployed, even if they have a job and are profitable for their employers.

I was listening to a radio show with the Nobel Prize winner Arvid Carlsson; he complained about the fact that he has been discriminated against because of his age.

Many other people have made wonderful work contributions at an advanced age. Many people do not feel comfortable dealing only with hobby activities, they really want something real to work with.

Here are some alternatives for those ones who have been forced to quit work after having reached their retirement age:

  • Work politically to fight against ageism.
  • Start studying - maybe with the purpose of achieving an advanced degree.
  • Start your own business - maybe a company competing with the employer who did not let you continue your work there.
  • Join some non-profit organization (for instance, The Red Cross or Amnesty International) and be active there.
  • Work in schools assisting the students during their breaks. Contact the headmaster.
  • Substitute for somebody at old workplaces. Phone and ask!!
  • Help children or grown-ups with problems. Call the Social Services office!
  • Work as a lay assessor.
  • Write a book about age discrimination.
  • Look for work in a company that does not discriminate because of the age of the applicants.

When you are retired you can choose to work for free. For example Lis Asklund continued treating patients free of charge, when she retired.

To have a meaningful job is important to keep you youthful, active and healthy. Our society really needs all the people who want to make a contribution to the community through their work.

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