The Quarterstaff Revolution Redux
Elder Dental Care

TGB FORUM: Do You Keep Up with Your Previous Profession?

Last week, after a post about available services for elders turned into a lively discussion, I called on you, dear readers, for topic ideas for future forums. You responded with some excellent ideas.

Readers of this blog have a well-established history of compelling, sharp and, often, funny conversation in the comments section below the main story and this forum idea allows more room for that on subjects you choose.

This also leaves me some extra time now and then away from the computer while you still get something fresh rather than an empty page.

This feature will be labeled the headline, TGB FORUM, following by the day's question and I will usually (well, maybe not always) have something to say about it myself before leaving it open for you.

If you click “reply” in your news reader or email program, your comment comes only to me via email. No one else can see it.

To participate in the forum (or any blog post) and read what others have said, you must go to the blog website. Do this by clicking the title of the story. It will then open in your browser and you can scroll down to click “comments” and add your two (or 20 or more) cents.


After retiring, do you keep up with what's happening in your former profession? Why?

In my case, absolutely. I spent my entire career in various forms of media involved with what most interests me: news, politics, world affairs, the varieties of American culture and the media itself.

Back in my working days, they paid me to do that and there was a part of me that never quite got over the amazement I felt at actually making a living doing it.

Since retiring, I've never slacked off. I cannot imagine how I could make sense of the world I live in (to the degree anyone can), without keeping up. What a miss is the morning discussions and camaraderie with fellow workers who shared my interests. But life changes.

Now it's you turn and I'd add just a little to what Trudi asked: if you do not keep up with your previous career, have other interests replaced that? If so, what?

At the Elder Storytelling Place today, Henry Lowenstern: The Grocery List


I was a teacher for 30 years and I keep up with education in various ways...tutoring, volunteering at a local school, reading the latest articles on child centered education and just enjoying children whenever I happen to come across them.

I was a psychiatric nurse, mostly working with women, for 36 years and don't keep up with the field itself but have maintained an ongoing interest in women's lives and issues. I always hoped to write and have been doing that since retirement through my blog. It opens yet another world to me. I've kept a soft spot in my heart for the mentally ill and their needs, though, and bring my knowledge to discussions accordingly.

Like you, I was in the media (mostly doing magazine work: reporting, editing, setting up photo shots, brainstorming ideas, freelance writing and eventually web publishing).

I definitely keep up with the field and that has been made so much easier with the internet.

I can't believe that when I started out as a magazine editor, we literally cut and pasted, and sent it all down to the typesetting department, where the copy was typed into their typesetting machines.

Then proofs would come up to editorial and three or four of us junior editors would read through them to catch typos. Then the copy would be corrected in typesetting and proofed again -- sometimes, there was more cutting and pasting. Very laborious!

I remember the first job in which we had email, it was at a news-magazine and only covered the staff of the magazine and far-flung stringers and columnists. We were the first in Canada to have such a thing.

I gave up the business because we don't need the money now. Astonishingly, freelance writing rates were a $1.00 word 30 years ago. They are still the same and often much lower. Of course, with the internet, that kind of work is easier, but there is not much point in doing it for me personally.

Young people used to get into magazines by freelancing, but I don't see how that is possible anymore. You can't make a living. The whole magazine world is in a crisis.

I was a hospital pharmacist. i have always been interested in medical matters and keep up in a general way. But I do not follow pharmacy in particular. When I realized that I could never work again, I stopped doing any CE and let my license lapse.

I was/as a floral designer. I have not worked since last February, but I keep up with friends and cohorts in the business and belong to 4 florist groups on Facebook. I really miss being in the midst of a room full of flowers.

I've come full circle. After journalism school I started working as a writer-editor with the emphasis on writing. As my career progressed, almost all my work came to involve editing and management of publishing organizations. There was very little time for or need for personal writing. In retirement, I've authored two books and posted about 400 blog items. I only edit and supervise (rather loosely) myself.

After many years in medical and psychiatric social work in most clinical specialities, I focussed on working with people with substance dependency problems through groupwork and one-to-one counselling. I brought all the manuals containing the groupwork I'd designed with me to southern Spain, not thinking I'd use them. I just couldn't bear to part with them.

I must say though that they came in very handy when I was asked to be involved with a charity helping older expats in this country. Much of the material was transferable when training other volunteers and providing support to them.

I continue to be interested in social issues in my country of birth and comparing how things are dealt with in my adopted country.

This is really interesting today - I am so enjoying finding out more about people whose comments I have been reading for years.

In some cases, maybe I know a bit about your background when you've mentioned it in passing or, in a couple of cases, when we have exchanged email.

But to hear more detail about your areas of expertise and interests and particularly, your feelings about them gives an illuminating new perspective.

Thank you all for doing this. Keep going, keep going.

I spent nearly thirty years working in computer mainframe operations, then in software engineering. Now I completely ignore both fields. It was something I could do well enough to make a living, but I had no passion for it.

Since retiring, my hobbies include bread baking, gardening, swimming, and, most recently, art classes. I think my right brain is finally coming into balance wth my left!

I retired from an admin job with a home builder. It was a perfect fit for me because I've always been a house junkie. I spent a year trying to sell real estate in the last market downturn in the 80's, and found the 7AM and 11PM phone calls were too much to put up with. I still watch the market like a hawk, could see in 2005 we were in for some sort of collapse, but didn't realize it would be so massive. I've always wondered why the Bernanke's, and Greenspan's couldn't see it coming with their knowledge of history.

I worked in editing and publishing, editing, designing and otherwise working to produce books and magazines rather than writing them. About half my working years were spent as managing editor of a small medical journal (my dad was a doctor, so I came by the interest naturally). I've mourned the slow demise of print but at the same time tried to keep up with digital publishing and keep my hand in with my blog. It lets me design, edit, and publish and, unlike during my working years, I do all the writing, too. Seven years and 2,000+ posts later, I'd have to call it a pretty serious hobby.

Absolutely fascinating responses. :)

I'm an artist. Keeping a day job of some sort is always important even when one has a degree in art. I taught swimming, and I'm in the water now every morning. I did newspaper layout, paste up, and line illustration. I keep a drawing board in my dining room. I worked at the city library as an aide. Today I am the book lady for the American Cancer Society Discovery shop here in Point Loma. Worst of all, I drank and partied away the 1960's and 70's. Today with 30 years of sobriety, I help others...perhaps just by listening.

One never knows when a day job might come in handy.

While still working I was on a couple of boards and a neighborhood group. I'm still involved with all those, and have added a couple more.

I have been interested in neighborhood development and improving quality of life and environments for what feels like forever. I have incorporated my education in psychology, and experience working with homeless families, people experiencing deep poverty, and people with addictions and/or serious mental health disorders into almost everything I do in life.

Our once thriving community of Rockford, Illinois, has been hit hard over the past 40 years. Over those years, this city, like many others adversely affected by the decline in manufacturing, has seen many initiatives come and go, trying to restore hope, commerce and neighborhoods. There much work to be done here, and for anyone who has some time, interest, and can manage to get by without being paid, there are many opportunities to get involved. As long as I'm physically, mentally and emotionally able, I'll probably continue to be active in this in some way.

I worked with non-profits doing marketing and fundraising. Primarily major arts organizations around the US, but also advocacy groups like Planned Parenthood, Greenpeace. My stomach turns at the idea of being involved in the organization ends of non-profits: the politics, the boards who come from the profit sector and do not understand, the endless search and fight for funds.

Instead I do hands on volunteer work: walk and walk, and let the others talk and talk!

I have always been a writer and editor: in newspapers, magazines, and books.
I wrote my first story at nine, first poem at 15.
I worked as a newspaper and magazine reporter and editor.
Since retirement, I've written a book on personal finance for old people; two novels, a memoir, and poetry, which I publish at Marc Leavitt's Blog. I keep up with the news daily.

When I initially decided to abandon pre-med, my original academic focus, and to switch to the humanities, certainly one of the reasons, based on what I observed in the lives of my professors, was that I would never have to abandon that work. Just the idea that I could keep up with research, writing, even after I had retired from a teaching job, really turned me on.

I am new to retirement and still in a state of shock, but I am indeed continuing the writing part of my career. One book recently completed with a co-editor, and now the memoir, which has me thinking a lot about the work I have been doing for almost 40 years now. I even contemplate going back to an earlier time when I thought I might write 101 grotesque stories, each amounting to a page or two, but no more. I still have however many I then completed--maybe it's time to look at them again.

I also still have 4 doctoral students to shepherd through their dissertations. They will eventually finish, but the teaching/advising continue to give me joy.

If anything, I worry about not reaching out and doing entirely different things in this one life I have been granted, but then I remember that sense of comfortable continuum I thought I would feel when I retired, with something I could keep doing if I wanted to.

Having a PhD in German seems nowadays totally ridiculous, who needs me? But I need me and I love continuing on as I have for all this time.I wonder, in fact, what else I could possibly do. I cannot ever imagine not doing anything.

I was a paralegal/legal assistant for over 24 years and loved my work. It afforded me the opportunity to work with people from all walks of life and to make a difference in some of those lives. I keep up with some of the major things that happen in the legal profession, and I am often asked my family and friends to answer a question regarding a legal problem that has presented itself. However, I know that I'm not "up" on all of the latest changes in the law and in the rules, so I try to avoid any type of interaction. I do still belong to my national legal organization where I've been a member for almost 20 years, primarily because one of my perks of belonging is discounts on certain things, including a hefty discount on my auto and homeowners insurance. I have a new profession since I retired from the legal field, so I don't keep up with legal stuff so much---I am having too much fun learning all I need to know about my new profession.

Nursing was my profession. Today I am as excited and curious about what is new in the field as I was when I graduated 55 years ago. I had to stop working when I turned 65 because of medical reasons. Years later when I finally conceded and did not renew my license, I found it was the hardest thing to do. My license was so precious to me as was my nurse's cap. I had worked so hard for both.

The friendships that came from school and where I worked keep me posted on what is going on in the field. Whenever a new visiting nurse comes to see me I always want to know where they graduated from but most importantly how do they like nursing and are they happy? I am surprised at some of the answers I get.

While I am not able to work, I now instead am a listener.

I entered the work world with an art degree. Ended up in technical publications and watched it go from manual, cut and paste, to computer. I went back to school and learned programming and retired as a software project manager.

All along I had a some art business on the side that never made enough to support anyone. Graphics, illustration, stained glass, calligraphy. I only manage enough computer interest to stay online at home. I have no interested in my former software career at all.

I have just signed up for a watercolor class, a medium I never quite conquered, and have started a sketch book again. I'm beginning to attend art openings and meet other artists again. With retirement I can focus on art again without worrying about starving, yet anyway. Plus I can use my art to work out my own issues about aging. Sketch out of my fears and hopes. Angry? Nothing helps me like beating a pound of clay to My other avocation is sharing this with my grandkids. There's too little art in everyone's everyday lives. It's been cut from many school programs even though it enhances thinking skills and imagination. Same with music sadly.

I recently retired from many decades as a free-lance education researcher studying efforts to improve public schools in poor communities. Alas to little avail. But for me the work provided extraordinary opportunities to interview educators in large and small school systems across the country.

I envisioned kicking back for a while but instead took on two fascinating projects, both stemming from looking after my mother during her last years. One has forced me to learn how to design, write, and produce a newsletter in addition to grant writing for the low-income senior apartment complex where she lived.

The other is an exciting venture started by my mom's geriatrician, focused on ways to bring that perspective to more patients. One is through shared medical appointments giving groups of seniors 90 minutes with a doc and nurse on topics of high interest.

The other is to work on ways to integrate the more holistic approach of geriatrics into the practice of primary care physicians since few seniors will have access to the small number of geriatricians around.

So I'm now putting my research skills to work in this context. Very exciting!

I was a social worker for children, involved with them, their families, so many other professionals and eventually proposing, for court determination, where they would live - home, relative, foster care, or structured environment. This was the 60s so I worked with all social strati. It blew me away from the comfort of my small hometown "innocent" upbringing and I had to grow up very fast. It opened doors of appreciation and awareness for the generosity and life experiences of others while also introducing atrocities and personal fear into my life. Remember..this was in days where tv or radio didn't deal with this, beyond Batman.

Upon moving and retiring to raise kids, my focus has been inward, expanding my self in every way I can. In this respect I remain open and thoughtful to my and others' life choices, so my world view has vastly grown. My previous work has remained a part of my life - I give time and possessions to help the homeless or battered women and children.

Often the past remembrances and present times are released, or realized!, while dabbling in artwork, which can provide a wonderful high.

I was in high tech semiconductor sales. I stay in touch with former work associates but the frequency of contact and richness of dialogue is waning rapidly, this after just 3 months of retirement. I expect there to be near zero contact soon. I am losing interest in the "sales scene". I barely follow my former industry or companies worked for. My career paid for raising my family and now supports my retirement, but otherwise, good riddance.

I worked with computers for over 40 years. I was so fortunate to get in on the beginning of computer revolution. First worked with the hardware. Tape librarian, mounting tapes and discs, and running the console.
Moved on to programming. Then found databases and worked with them until retirement. I loved it. I still love it. I was at loose ends when I retired. On Friday I was an acknowledged expert on something and on Saturday when I got up I was a nobody. I readily admit that first year was a hard year for me. Then decided that I had a lot of information that would be of value to nonprofits who might be happy to find a volunteer who had expertise. I volunteered for several years with an environmental organization. When they didn't need me any more, I found a grade school with a problem I could help with and I did. It is 7 years since I started volunteering there and I still do. I also have tutored an elder like myself who needed a little help getting going on her laptop. Election judges are needed everywhere so that also keeps me connected to the rest of the world. I was asked to be the block leader in my community and that keeps me in touch with my neighbors and my close community. I am still looking for other opportunities to use my specialized knowledge for others. It is time for me to give back and I am trying to do a good job of it and loving it all the way.

I was in a social services field for people over age 60. I have stayed in contact with several of those I worked with. I also found a related volunteer position that keeps me in touch with the programs and people I worked with, plus I have more time to put in on volunteering I did while working.

For over 30 years I was an alcohol and other drug specialist - mostly program design and management. I still keep up in retirement but it is more fun now.I have also been able to get more thoroughly into some of my first loves, general science and technology, philosophy, and the arts. I joined a weekly "meet-up" group composed mostly of academics - philosophers, engineers, biologists, psychologists, artists and computer scientists, where we discuss a full range of topics.

After 40+ years working as a buyer for the local university/medical complex, I was laid off and heaved a sigh of relief. I could now paint, read, write, study art and write about art to my heart's content. And that is exactly what I have done.

Although I was passionate and committed to my career, the last few years before my retirement were stressful and discouraging, not just for me personally, but for the field in general. So, when I retired, I left it behind and did not look back.

Even when I was working, I did a lot of volunteer work. So now, in retirement, I have expanded my volunteer work. I help children in the public schools who are not, for a variety of possible reasons, performing at grade level. I find this very satisfying.

I also indulge a couple of hobbies, drink coffee, enjoy my family, and read a lot.

I taught middle-school English for a few years and really loved it. After I took several years off to raise babies, California's Prop 13 passed and there was no job to go back to.

A friend asked me to help him with the documentation for a computer program he was writing and basically taught me the business of tech writing. For 25 years, it was a lucrative and enjoyable career (it paid for two private college educations), but I don't miss the long hours (in the winter, I never saw the sun), freeway commute, and Silicon Valley angst.

I'm now back to teaching several days a week as a volunteer with English-language-learners in our local high school. I can walk to "work!"

In between times, I read, garden, walk and hike, travel the world, and spend hours a week with my friends in our local coffee house. I'm really lucky.

I spent several decades in corporate communications in high tech companies, the last 15 of them as an executive speechwriter. I was laid off at 62 when the last company's stock plummeted, so I started freelancing. I still do some of that, but I'm now writing fiction in a fabulous group of writers and having the time of my life.

Ronni, I am pleased and honored that you liked my idea for a forum discussion enough that you used it first.

The short answer to the question is "no". I no longer keep up with what's going on in optics research and design(career #1) or computer interface design (career #2). The main reason might be called intellectual laziness. There is so much going on in those fields that it would be difficult to keep up if I had access to technical journals and weekly seminars... and I have neither. If I was more motivated and had fewer other interests I suppose I could find a way.

However I am always pleased to see some things that I worked on way back... make it to the consumer market. I saw my first laser (aka ray gun) when I was a senior in college. Lasers transformed optics. Now they are used to amuse cats among more serious uses. Also along the way I worked on holograms (1970), CD (compact disc) technology (1978), touch screens and video on computer screens(1988). This last may seem ho hum now but it was not so simple to make it happen then. In 1988... the PC-AT was the latest and greatest. Smart phones today have more power... much more. Working in advanced technology development meant many chases down dead end alleys and once in a while a EUREKA moment! It was fun.

For a few years before I retired, I kept a notebook labeled "When I Retire". I would write in it a one line description of something I thought I would like to do but I was working 60+ hour weeks and did not have time for non-work activities. I knew that some items on the list would never happen... but I didn't want to forget anything. Since I've retired some of them have happened... and the list continues to grow.

I still receive, daily, a newsletter on education, and each day I find articles to share via Facebook and Twitter. So, I guess I've still got my finger in the teaching career I had for 21 years.

I also keep abreast of agriculture in this great valley (where we are currently drying up in the drought) as I grew up on a cotton farm and then worked in ag publishing and sales after graduating from college. That teaching thing was a second career.

Now I volunteer for a variety of organizations and they all seem to pull me back into the classroom.

I had so many jobs and careers, it makes my head spin to even think about it. After experimenting with various fields, I found a niche which was satisfying for awhile. so for a number of years I worked in medical and hospital records management. Then, after time out as a "mad housewife" and mother, followed by a divorce, I went back to school and acquired a couple of degrees. This was followed by about 22 years in grant administration, the first phase being administration of a grant-funded jobs program and the final 15 years administering university research grants.

When I retired, I moved far away from colleagues and only sporadically and briefly kept up through email and telephone. I completely abandoned grant development, except for (successfully) helping relatives a few times. To keep busy, I worked at temp jobs in the educational testing field for a time, but found it to be just as stressful and not as remunerative as my previous career.

So I retired "completely" and indulged my natural indolence plus my devotion to reading, accumulating a library which was threatening to sink my home until I culled about 1,000 books to donate to a local non-profit, leaving me with only a couple thousand with which to surround myself. But like Ronni, I began to have difficulty concentrating on reading, probably exacerbated by two serious eye problems. Recently I seem to have recovered my addiction to reading, only now I do it on my Kindle and, although I much prefer to hold a real book in my hands, one has to deal with one's limitations. Reading is still my best love no matter how I have to do it.

I was working as an English as a second Language teacher. I continue to volunteer tutor. That is the only connection to my former profession because several years before I retired a notice was put in the local paper inviting people to come to a meeting: people who had played an instrument in school many years ago and wanted to pick it up again. I did and it was so exciting and it was one of the reasons that I retired. I wanted to spend more time practicing my flute. I am now in my sixth year and I still love practicing and playing with other people. I am so enchanted and envious of skills and knowledge that others have! And retirement has given me the opportunity to spend more time working with quilts and drawing. I agree with Celia...we do not spend enough time with music and art. I think it is all very exciting! What a wonderful world there is for us to explore.

No, I don't. I spent my first 20 years of marriage as a stay-at-home-mom, and I loved it. Went to work in a retail sales setting for 28 years, when we decided we needed extra $$ to educate our 3 sons!!

I was good at my job, and respected. I was dedicated to work, and felt I always earned my paycheck. The last year of working, I became increasingly uncomfortable with my co-workers. (2 women). I had always asked myself when I would know when it was "time" to retire. Well, those 2 women sealed the deal!

I retired 12/31/13--told my boss 2 months in advance (asked him to keep it quiet, and he did). Did not tell my co-workers till 2 days before. It was the perfect way to quietly exit.

I am now happily retired, and once again a stay-at-home wife and loving it. My legal-pad list is long, and I am not sure how I ever had time to work! My husband was totally supportive, and is glad to have his gal back (happy!)

I could care less about the business trends and the new product. Sad, but true! And I have not had any contact with the co-workers.

I taught and still see myself as a teacher with benefits. I volunteer teaching ESL to new Canadians, and help serve lunch in a senior home.

I presented motivational seminars across Canada while teaching, and performed standup comedy in our travels to the USA and UK.

I studied journalism before retiring, which led to publishing articles and my comedic memoir.

Everything I did before retiring has helped me overcome great childhood shyness.

We lead a balanced life of volunteer work, travel, bike group,

So far so good.

Doctafill in Beijing.

I was a teachers aide for 15 years. K through 3rd grade. When I moved here to keep my mother out of a nursing home I couldn't get on with the local schools. You had to be born here. I started my own pet sitting service. Taking care of animal was almost like taking care of kids. Animals are easier. With the economy crash, Not much work lately.

How does a writer/photojournalist retire?

At the point where the newspapers covered less-and less local news, I realized that I liked knowing what was going on in my town, even the politics, and that it was important. I kept my hand in by continuing to attend local meetings and reporting on them with my local blog for a few years. Some weeks I am at municipal meetings four evenings a week and in their offices reviewing files one or two days.

About 1 1/2 years ago I got involved in a local ballot question campaign (we won) and I am now helping two township committee candidates with writing, editing, researching, and helping with press contacts and letters to the editor.

Additionally, I still photograph local quilt shows, marching band competitions, county and local concerts, etc.

Occasionally a local editor will call to see if I can run out to take a picture (small plane lands in field) or if I have a picture they need on file.

Elected officials from my township up to the White House hear from me regularly.

I have tried other interests - water painting, finishing a quilt, needlepoint, fiction writing - but I just don't have the time. Oops, except for our dogs and cat...they still have priority.

I was employed for many years in the ill-defined fields of research into social ills, community organizing, electoral organizing, and finally what is now called "political consulting." I guess I am now semi-retired, though I still get occasional calls for consultations.

I certainly keep up with the fields in which I used to toil, as an engaged citizen, by daily blogging, and currently by driving around the country promoting my partner's new book.

Life remains very interesting!

I'm retired, but if the right team and product found me I'd go back. I was in software - on the product management side. In my last job I also managed the software design team - and found it totally compelling. That's the part I miss, that's the part I keep up with, that's the part I even think about going back to school for:). I'm 57, so the question is what life would be like, after years as at the VP level in small/midsize companies, to work as a contractor/consultant/individual contributor.

For now, I work, like others, on my blog.

I was at work yesterday so wasn't able to read the column or all the great responses until today. I'm still IN my profession on a limited basis. I work part time 15-20 hours/week as part of the administrative team of a drug/alcohol rehab facility. We are facing major changes--away from a "nonprofit" service model to a "business" model. I'm having a hard time with that philosophically because in my view human services are not a business.

I doubt that I will continue to keep up with the field once I retire fully, probably sometime next year. I've survived a number of sea changes during the 39 years I've been with my agency, but this time I think I'm done.

Elizabeth - sounds like a loss for them.
Lisa - go all out for what you want.

I now know many of you more than I did yesterday. Thanks.

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