There are significant challenges confronting Encores. That is why Encore NEO is passionate about the work it does. The people at Encore NEO are driven not only by the panicked faces of new people who enter Encore NEO’s rooms, but also by the sure and heart-felt knowledge that society should not be without the contributions that remain latent as older displaced individuals sit idle. This is an unacceptable tragedy on all levels.
Some of the challenges Encore NEO is committed to overcome include:
Traditional Ideas About Aging
The term “senior citizens” did not come into common usage until the late 1930’s. Tired traditional labels such as “senior citizens” and “mature services” carry negative mental images of helpless, immobile, dependent individuals sitting around tables playing cards all day with likewise stranded individuals. Not us. We think of remaining active, vital, relevant, independent, engaged, and even rebellious until we are carried out on a stretcher. If we fall short of that goal, so be it. But, that’s our clear intention.
Traditional Ideas About Retirement
The concept of retirement was also gifted upon us in the 1930’s by government policy designed to get us off the clock at age 65, whereupon we would sit back and enjoy the labors of our work for the few remaining years at our disposal. Make room for younger workers! The concept was perpetuated by an entire retirement industry willing to peddle beautiful and addictive images of what those last glorious years should look like. Nonsense. Research demonstrates that the move from active work into passive retirement is one of the worst things we can do to our own mental, physical, emotional, and social health. Yet, the myth persists and in our own minds we feel cheated by circumstances if we can’t “stop working” by age 65.
Traditional Ideas About Work
Traditional employers have bought the myths. Older workers, they believe, are mentally slower, unable to learn new things, resistant to change, technophobic, and cost more to employ. And, many of us have come to believe the same things about ourselves. How many times do we hear ourselves say, “I can’t figure out my computer. I need to get a 12 year old to help me.” It simply isn’t true. And yet we’ve all convinced ourselves that it is. Again, nonsense.
Additionally, there are simply fewer job situations that fit Encores well. As Nancy Hellmich pointed out in a recent USA Today article (Boomers working to stay employed during golden years, April 30, 2014):
"Most Baby Boomers are envisioning a transition into retirement which involves reducing hours to afford them more time to enjoy life or involves encore careers that are more personally satisfying or less demanding. … The vast majority say their employers do not have policies in place to accommodate this type of transition, so it's likely they'll have to change employers or explore something entrepreneurial."
Many Boomers experienced severe financial reversals in the 2008 recession and are facing a tougher job market that has been deeply affected by automation and globalization. Whether through their own ill-preparedness or simply unforeseen consequences, the fact is that at least 60 percent of Americans today live paycheck-to-paycheck. There is a huge need for increased financial literacy and innovative employment options to support the Encore generation. Failure on this front will result in greater burdens on the social welfare systems.