Kirk R. Daffner, the Wimberly Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School and the Muss Clinical Director of the Alzheimer Center at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, recently offered his perspective on work and aging in The Washington Post article entitled “Reflections of a dementia specialist: I want to stop working before I embarrass myself.”
Passionate about our professions, many of us have worked (or intend to work) well beyond our mid-60s. I include myself in that number. But, as we age, we must confront the possibility of cognitive impairment. Dr. Daffner suggests that “for adults approaching their 60s or beyond, especially those with no intention of retiring, preparing an occupational living will is a particularly important endeavor. This exercise would provide an opportunity to seriously consider our individual threshold of cognitive or functional decline that, if crossed, would signal the need to stop working. One extreme position would be to choose to retire when we could no longer perform at a level equal to our highest degree of competence and creativity. The other extreme would be to plan to work until the day we die, regardless of our intellectual capacity, performance or ability to contribute.” And, as Dr. Daffner indicates, there are many courses of action between these two extremes.
Each of us will choose a course of action that fits our own specific circumstances. As I approached 70, I started seriously thinking about retirement. At the end of 2017, I made the decision to retire at the end of this year. I have chosen what Dr. Daffner calls “one extreme position” and that is to choose to retire knowing that I no longer perform at a level equal to my highest degree of competence and creativity. But, said another way, I choose to retire when I have the competence and capacity to live purposefully into the next chapter of my life.
If you are beginning to consider stepping back from work, please keep your advisory team at FJY in the loop. We can model the financial implications of a decision to bow out and will support you in every other way we can. FJY has supported me, let us support you. Read more….