Aging/Gerontology, News

Stuck in a Job- Issues/Frustrations for those Close to Retirement

By Kelly Mitchell-Guest Blogger

Here in Canada, a trend that is currently happening is that a large number of people are moving quickly toward retirement. This is a massive number of people, and as such, there is going to be an equally large number of jobs becoming available in the next 10 – 15 years as those people make individual decisions to give up their employment. For many it will come with some disappointment that they are no longer working at jobs they loved, while for others it will come with great relief that they can finally walk away from jobs where they’ve been stagnating for years.

One of the harsh realities for many people is that in their late 40’s and early 50’s, they come to realize that their current jobs no longer bring them the happiness and opportunities they once promised. The climb to the top has stalled, the job becomes routine, the days a repeat of previous days, and the likelihood that things will change diminishes.

Now personally, I know of 8 people who are in this situation; some are my best friends, and some are colleagues. What’s more is that I’m willing to bet that if I really went out of my way to ask other people I know, I’d see this number rise even more.

What all 8 of these people have in common is a sense of growing frustration and acceptance, and a diminishing of their capability to do anything about it. Can you identify with them? For example, one is a Senior Manager in a large corporation who is only using a fraction of the skills and knowledge he has to do his job. It’s not that he wouldn’t like to do more, it’s because his superiors are holding him back out of their own ignorance. They don’t have his training, and as things are running just fine in the company, why introduce change where change is not needed in their eyes? So just keep doing the same thing they’ve always done, running it the same way its always been done.

Another guy is at the top of his franchise. The only other place for him to go is head office in another city or leave the company entirely and take his skills somewhere else. His problem is very complicated with financial commitments and not being able to uproot his family and move to another town. Marital break-ups can do that to a person. And to be gender fair, I know a woman who is in 2014 stuck lacking the courage to take a big leap of faith by quitting and doing something boldly new. She’s been stuck for 5 years now feeling unfulfilled and spinning her wheels. She doesn’t want to get promoted because she doesn’t want what comes with that job, and her own job is something she could do blindfolded and in her sleep she feels.

Now I’ll tell you this; as an Employment Counsellor, I have had 1:1 talks with some of these people. They know what I do for a living and they know they can count on me to listen to them and support them if they seriously want to make a change. But I know too that I can’t live their lives, and their choices are their choices to make. Even not making a change is still a choice; a choice to keep things the same and carry on.

In a perfect world, wouldn’t we all do things that we find stimulating and interesting? We’d be paid increasing salaries as we grow, and each day when we did whatever it is that we do, we’d come home feeling good and fulfilled giving thanks for the wonderful jobs and careers we have that bring us such satisfaction. Well maybe for some. For others, a perfect world would mean we only work 3 days a week or some variation, and we enjoy the other days doing our own thing with enough money to live the way we want.

Are you stuck in a job or career where you need the money it provides and there’s little opportunity to change much? Feel trapped? Despite the outward appearance each of these people show to the world, when deep in conversation on a one-to-one basis each gets very serious and I can easily pick up their discontent. It must be frustrating to know you need a change and yet feel change is the very thing you cannot do or will not risk.

The issue in one’s 40’s or 50’s is the commitments one has at that point. There’s spouses and children, parents that need supporting, social convention that says you should have made it career-wise by now, mortgages and financial obligations, and a growing realization that only a finite number of years are left to build that retirement nest egg. With so many other people looking for work, not only would your job be filled within a week, the number of other people you’d be competing for other jobs with is alarming. And the result is keeping the status quo.

The danger in all of this is growing despondent and depression setting in; a feeling of failure and a life of unhappiness ahead. That’s what they tell me. As a colleague and personal friend to some, I feel for them. This column doesn’t come with easy fixes either. While I could dispense ideas and advice, this time around I just want to highlight the situation.

*Original post can be found at:


Aging: Yay or Nay?

I came across an article in the Montreal Gazette in the Opinion Section titled: “Growing old is no fun” on August 2nd with individual responses to the article on August 5th in the Editorial Section under Your Views.

The gist of the article is aging and getting older has not happened as expected. Many thought retirement would offer more time for hobbies, traveling, volunteering, time spent with grandchildren and other leisure interests. Some are finding as they age their health is worsening, mobility and strength is diminishing and they need more assistance with routine tasks of shopping, meal preparation, cleaning, transportation to various appointments, and with finances. Older adults are living longer and in some cases outliving their retirement funds.

Due to the cost of basics like food, clothing, access to healthcare and home maintenance whether one owns or rents, these costs are often more than what an older adult can afford or has in their bank account.

On the other side of all this, for those who are healthy, active and have the financial means, getting older is viewed as a time to enjoy life, to pursue leisure and hobbies and should one require assistance with routine tasks, to hire private help as needed.

Older adults have much knowledge, have witnessed and lived through a huge chunk of history, are wiser, and have much to offer. They can mentor individuals related to past employment sectors, mentor youth through intergenerational programs, share stories related to life their experience, offer friendship and more.

As a society, aging or getting older is an area that needs a modern look that describes reality both positive and negative. As one individual quoted, “…As we age, we take the good and try to apply it to what we are still able to do. People need to keep busy doing what they enjoy and live day by day.”

Another said, “Some of us run out of money each and every month and live with daily pain, to say nothing of our dwindling energy. I do not fear death, but do fear living each of the months ahead with a thinning wallet and growing pain.”

Both of these quotes show reality for those that are retired and aging, but they also describe changes that are needed and wanted. There must be a starting point.

By Victoria Brewster, MSW



Aging/Gerontology, Book Review, Social Work/Helping Profession/Mental Health

“Caregiving with Strength” – Book Review

Caregiving is difficult and often the focus is on the individual, patient, client or family member that suffers from a progressive, chronic or degenerative disease or illness. What makes this book both different and needed is the focus on the caregiver, both family and professional. Great examples, solutions, and definitions are offered which are easily understood.

It is wonderful to have a book that a professional could use to encourage discussion and problem solving with family caregivers while at the same time, the book allows the family caregivers to understand what professional caregivers may be experiencing.

A quote that stood out for me as a frontline social worker, “Caregiving as family members or professionals carries with it demands that can take an emotional, cognitive, physical, and spiritual toll. Self-assessment, acknowledging potential signs of emerging compassion fatigue and burnout can assist, as preventative before symptoms get worse.”

The approach depicted in the book focuses on 3-A’s:  Acknowledge, Assess and Assist. Caregivers acknowledge their struggle and possible losses, the impact of such is assessed and assisting strategies and solutions offered. Often family members do not see themselves as caregivers, but as family assisting family. The title ‘caregivers’ provides structure and legitimizes the function provided. It’s a reframing which may allow a family caregiver to accept support for themselves and the 3-A Approach can assist with this.

Caregiving with Strength focuses on the caregiver. Typically the individual afflicted with the chronic health condition is receiving support, information on the illness or disease and it is the family member (s) struggling to offer/provide support while going through their own adjustment to the situation. Eleanor Silverberg raises awareness of the situational losses and subsequent reactions to the losses that caregivers face. Feelings of denial, resistance, anger and guilt may surface-similar to the process of grief or bereavement that tends to accompany the death of a family member or close friend. She goes further and explains that often when someone has died there are rituals, structure and support offered to the family and professionals, but this is not the case when the family member or patient is facing a chronic illness. In the case of chronic health conditions, the family member is very much alive, but cannot function the same as before the diagnosis and the progression of the illness or disease may be slow or quick. The caregiver is slowly witnessing someone change before their eyes and often is not prepared.

This book encourages caregivers, both family and professional to recognize, seek and accept assistance while at the same time ‘normalizing’ the process.

To learn more or to contact the author, Eleanor Silverberg, she can be reached at:

*This review was first published at:

By Victoria Brewster