The Aging Writer

senior_woman_working_at_store[1]Those of you who’ve been following this blog a long time know that I’ve written nearly every day for most of my adult life. It’s been an enjoyable habit. Regardless of what I’ve been going through, I’ve managed to write at least a little in all types of different situations (even during the early stages of labor) and in all kinds of places…planes, trains, automobiles, hotel rooms, hospitals, ferries, hockey rinks, sports fields, poolside, and so on.

As I’ve mentioned in the past, it’s inevitable that I sometimes wonder if I’ll retire. I’m in my early sixties now and this decade is proving to be an eventful time of change in my life, some of it amazingly good, and some of it not so much.

Recently, I was blown away by a Washington Post article about the growing number of seniors who are still working at 85+ years. Apparently, over 250,000 Americans in that age category are doing everything from driving trucks to working as crossing guards. As you’ll see in the article HERE, the top jobs for the 85+ crowd are ranching and farming. Who knew? Society is clearly changing its attitude about what aging really means and the options available to seniors.

Researchers attribute the growing number of 85+ workers to longer life expectancies, shrinking retirement plans, and the availability of less physically demanding work. Writers comprise just .04% of the aging work force, which I totally understand. It’s mentally exhausting work that doesn’t pay even minimum wage for most.

Although the article breaks down the types of work and demographics, it doesn’t explore how these older workers feel about their jobs. Are they working because they have to out of financial need or because they want to? If they want to, is it simply to keep busy, or because they intend to help family and/or charities?

In Sue Grafton’s first alphabet mystery, A is for Alibi (published in 1982), we’re introduced to a secondary character named Henry, who is in about eighty years old. Henry’s a retired commercial baker who now makes a living designing difficult crossword puzzles. I remember thinking, wow, what an interesting and unusual character. But it looks like there are a lot of real-life Henrys out there now, and I think the world is better for it.

Author: debrapurdykong

I'm a British Columbia author who's been writing for over 30 years. My volunteer experiences, criminology diploma, and various jobs, inspired me to write mysteries set in BC’s Lower Mainland. Employment as a campus security patrol and communications officer provide the background for my my Casey Holland transit security novels. I'm also a part-time facilitator in Creative Writing Workshops through Port Moody's Recreation program. Feel free to contact me at

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