DENVER, Colo. — The pandemic sparked a wave of early retirement across the country.
By the end of last year, more than three million people were thought to have retired early because of the pandemic.
Economic experts say some of these older adults need to get back in the workforce to help the economy bounce back.
There are some industries encouraging seniors across the country to "unretire" and get back to work. Caregiving is one of those industries.
Tudi Toughill is a caregiver at Home Instead, a job she fell into after caring for her own mom.
When her mother passed, Toughill wanted to help other families like hers.
“Just seeing the people react and smile, you know, just have that camaraderie, that reaction is like heaven,” said Toughill with a smile.
She had retired, but she knew this was her reason to come back to work. She hopes other seniors consider doing the same.
“Especially after COVID, you know, it's bad enough that we were separated. You couldn't be with people, and it really can isolate you. So, I'm glad being in this and being out and about,” said Toughill.
Toughill is part of a growing trend of retirees coming back into the workforce. It’s something Kristin Dahlquist, who runs Home Instead is excited to see.
“Oh my gosh, so many people are interested in coming back to work,” said Dahlquist. “We saw a huge amount of people retire during the pandemic, and a lot of them were near retirement and pushed their retirement early. Now, they came back to work, and they, you know, they really thrived here.”
Home Instead is like many companies across the nation right now struggling to hire employees.
However, Dahlquist is specifically working to fix her staffing gap by hiring older Americans through a program called UnRetire Yourself.
“We encourage people who have recently retired or maybe retired in the last decade, come back to work, and offer them meaningful employment, a way to give back to their community,” said Dahlquist.
Bill Geller also came out of retirement to be a caregiver. He wanted to spend his retirement years more fruitfully.
“Instead of just going to play golf or just to do whatever, to have something really that is meaningful for you and you're really doing something that is meaningful for other people, it really does make a difference both on the day to day level and on the bigger picture level,” said Geller.
This is also a chance to change the definition of retirement from a time without work to a time where people work to be fulfilled.
“When caregivers come out of retirement, and then they build a relationship with these seniors, you're not only helping that senior with their cognitive decline and their loneliness, but they're helping themselves,” said Dahlquist.
It’s that special relationship that keeps Toughill coming to work every day for a company that looks at age as a skill, not a barrier.
“Ageism is real in the workforce. This is an industry that you don't need to adapt to the technology of 2022. You can come in and you can use those skills that you learned through your entire life,” said Dahlquist.
They’re the unteachable skills of connection and kindness Dahlquist wants more companies to recognize, and they are skills Toughill plans to keep using as long as she can.
“I would love to keep doing what I'm doing until I can't move. It’s great for me, I love it,” said Toughill.
If you’d like more information on the UnRetire Yourself program, click HERE.