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Is Flex-tirement the New Retirement?

Is Flex-tirement the New Retirement?

My father is 66 years old. Over the last forty years, he has worked in both Corporate America and academia, and his identity is closely tied to his job. How could it not be? He has spent the better part of his life commuting from one office to another, and he’s somewhat of a workaholic.

The original plan was for my dad to retire at age 66, but now that it’s here, the idea seems preposterous. He has lost money in the recession, and like many Baby Boomers, the thought of moving down to Florida to play tennis and mah jong all day makes him a little ill. My dad wants and needs to keep working, but he knows a 50 hour a week job is putting his health in jeopardy. What’s a Boomer to do?

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Finding a middle ground

My father’s situation is not unique. As tens of millions of Boomers approach traditional retirement age, organizations must contend with how to downsize valuable employees without completely cutting the cord. Enter the notion of flex-tirement.

Hard as it may be to believe in today’s market, we are actually on the cusp of a demographically-induced labor shortage that will leave organizations with far more green employees than seasoned ones. Smart companies know that it’s wise to use flex-tirement to hold on to experienced employees so they can effectively train and transition the younger generation into leadership roles. In an ideal scenario, a company would allow a fifty or sixty-something employee to keep the same job, which they enjoy and are good at, with reduced hours and pay.

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No longer an ex-president’s benefit

If you think about it, flex-tirement has been available to some types for a while. For former presidents or CEOs, “retirement” often equals plum consulting jobs and advisory board service. But increasingly, such opportunities are presenting themselves to average people too.

Even the government is on board with the idea. Says Camille Tuutti in Federal Computer Week:  “The Obama administration has acknowledged the potential of flexible retention. Its 2013 budget for the Office of Personnel Management included a proposal that would allow eligible employees to reduce their work hours at the end of their careers and receive income partially from a reduced salary and partially from retirement annuity. These employees would be required to mentor others, sharing institutional knowledge and helping with succession planning.”

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Make them want to retain you

So, if you’re a Boomer who wants to continue to work while enjoying some of the benefits of retirement, how should you position yourself? Your first goal is to make sure you are someone worth keeping. This means staying current in your job-specific training and skills and being at the top of your game productivity-wise. It also means going out of your way to showcase your value and results to the higher-ups and getting them to say, “Wow, losing Buddy Boomer is going to be a real problem. Who is going to do Task A, B, and C?”

Boomers who haven’t kept up with technology need to get with the program. You don’t want to be considered irrelevant because you don’t understand how business operates in a highly networked, highly virtual world. In addition, it’s imperative that flex-tirement-minded Boomers retain enthusiasm and passion for the job.  An employer is not likely to offer you a desirable part-time arrangement if they feel your heart and mind are touring a castle somewhere in Europe.

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Finally, be willing to chart the course. Remember that flex-tirement is new territory for many employers, and as such, formal policies and procedures might not yet exist. You should be prepared to use your well-honed negotiation and persuasion skills to obtain a situation that’s right for you.

(Photo credit: Retirement Savings via Shutterstock)

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12 Best Brain Foods that Improve Memory

12 Best Brain Foods that Improve Memory

Nutrition plays a vital role in brain function and staying sharp into the golden years. Personally, my husband is going through medical school, which is like a daily mental marathon. Like any good wife, I am always looking for things that will boost his memory fortitude so he does his best in school.

But you don’t have to be a med student to appreciate better brainiac brilliance. If you combine certain foods with good hydration, proper sleep and exercise, you may just rival Einstein and have a great memory in no time.

I’m going to reveal the list of foods coming out of the kitchen that can improve your memory and make you smarter.

Here are 12 best brain foods that improve memory:

1. Nuts

The American Journal of Epidemiology published a study linking higher intakes of vitamin E with the prevention on cognitive decline.[1]

Nuts like walnuts and almonds (along with other great foods like avocados) are a great source of vitamin E.

Cashews and sunflower seeds also contain an amino acid that reduces stress by boosting serotonin levels.

Walnuts even resemble the brain, just in case you forget the correlation, and are a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, which also improve your mental magnitude.

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2. Blueberries

Shown in studies at Tuffs University to benefit both short-term memory and coordination, blueberries pack quite a punch in a tiny blue package.[2]

When compared to other fruits and veggies, blueberries were found to have the highest amount of antioxidants (especially flavonoids), but strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are also full of brain benefits.

3. Tomatoes

Tomatoes are packed full of the antioxidant lycopene, which has shown to help protect against free-radical damage most notably seen in dementia patients.

4. Broccoli

While all green veggies are important and rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, broccoli is a superfood even among these healthy choices.

Since your brain uses so much fuel (it’s only 3% of your body weight but uses up to 17% of your energy), it is more vulnerable to free-radical damage and antioxidants help eliminate this threat.

Broccoli is packed full of antioxidants, is well-known as a powerful cancer fighter and is also full of vitamin K, which is known to enhance cognitive function.

5. Foods Rich in Essential Fatty Acids

Your brain is the fattest organ (not counting the skin) in the human body, and is composed of 60% fat. That means that your brain needs essential fatty acids like DHA and EPA to repair and build up synapses associated with memory.

The body does not naturally produce essential fatty acids so we must get them in our diet.

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Eggs, flax, and oily fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel and herring are great natural sources of these powerful fatty acids. Eggs also contain choline, which is a necessary building block for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, to help you recall information and concentrate.

6. Soy

Soy, along with many other whole foods mentioned here, are full of proteins that trigger neurotransmitters associated with memory.

Soy protein isolate is a concentrated form of the protein that can be found in powder, liquid, or supplement form.

Soy is valuable for improving memory and mental flexibility, so pour soy milk over your cereal and enjoy the benefits.

7. Dark chocolate

When it comes to chocolate, the darker the better. Try to aim for at least 70% cocoa. This yummy desert is rich in flavanol antioxidants which increase blood flow to the brain and shield brain cells from aging.

Take a look at this article if you want to know more benefits of dark chocolate:

15 Surprising and Science-Backed Health Effects of Dark Chocolate

8. Foods Rich in Vitamins: B vitamins, Folic Acid, Iron

Some great foods to obtain brain-boosting B vitamins, folic acid and iron are kale, chard, spinach and other dark leafy greens.

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B6, B12 and folic acid can reduce levels of homocysteine in the blood. Homocysteine increases are found in patients with cognitive impairment like Alzheimer’s, and high risk of stroke.

Studies showed when a group of elderly patients with mild cognitive impairment were given high doses of B6, B12, and folic acid, there was significant reduction in brain shrinkage compared to a similar placebo group.[3]

Other sources of B vitamins are liver, eggs, soybeans, lentils and green beans. Iron also helps accelerate brain function by carrying oxygen. If your brain doesn’t get enough oxygen, it can slow down and people can experience difficulty concentrating, diminished intellect, and a shorter attention span.

To get more iron in your diet, eat lean meats, beans, and iron-fortified cereals. Vitamin C helps in iron absorption, so don’t forget the fruits!

9. Foods Rich in Zinc

Zinc has constantly demonstrated its importance as a powerful nutrient in memory building and thinking. This mineral regulates communications between neurons and the hippocampus.

Zinc is deposited within nerve cells, with the highest concentrations found in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for higher learning function and memory.

Some great sources of zinc are pumpkin seeds, liver, nuts, and peas.

10. Gingko biloba

This herb has been utilized for centuries in eastern culture and is best known for its memory boosting brawn.

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It can increase blood flow in the brain by dilating vessels, increasing oxygen supply and removing free radicals.

However, don’t expect results overnight: this may take a few weeks to build up in your system before you see improvements.

11. Green and black tea

Studies have shown that both green and black tea prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine—a key chemical involved in memory and lacking in Alzheimer’s patients.

Both teas appear to have the same affect on Alzheimer’s disease as many drugs utilized to combat the illness, but green tea wins out as its affects last a full week versus black tea which only lasts the day.

Find out more about green tea here:

11 Health Benefits of Green Tea (+ How to Drink It for Maximum Benefits)

12. Sage and Rosemary

Both of these powerful herbs have been shown to increase memory and mental clarity, and alleviate mental fatigue in studies.

Try to enjoy these savory herbs in your favorite dishes.

When it comes to mental magnitude, eating smart can really make you smarter. Try to implement more of these readily available nutrients and see just how brainy you can be!

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

Reference

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