Janie Scott, 60, an occupational therapist in Columbia, Md., has scaled back her work hours and accepted lower-paying jobs so that she can spend more time taking care of her mother, who has mild cognitive impairment, in Naples, Fla. Her caregiving requires Scott to travel south at least once a month, which not all employers are willing or able to accommodate. "I can't have a five-day-a-week, traditional job," she says. "Because of [my mother's] health situation, the work that I do needs to be very flexible."
Now Scott accepts teaching and writing assignments related to occupational therapy, such as instructing fall-prevention classes at her local senior center one day a week and writing book chapters. "It's a real challenge to find work that is relevant to my years of experience," she says. Scott knows it's important to have a high income in the years leading up to retirement so that her Social Security checks will be larger, but she's having trouble finding work that pays at the level she's accustomed to that is also flexible enough for frequent visits to see her mother.
She also wants to keep active to try to ward off Alzheimer's disease, which can run in families. "I think that there is research out there that says that the longer one can stay physically active and cognitively engaged," Scott says, "the healthier you are and the higher your quality of life."
This blog post is part of an ongoing series of stories about people who retired while they were making other plans. If you'd like your unplanned retirement story featured in an upcoming post, please write me at firstname.lastname@example.org and include your phone number. Or you can discuss your story in the comments section.