Redirection is the New Direction for Older Adults

Positive attitude

Half of Canadian couples between 55 and 64 have no employer pension between them. Shawn McCarthy, The Globe and Mail (February 16, 2016).  

Canadians spend 21.9 years, on average, in retirement. Dr. Lynn McDonald (2012)

Nearly 80 percent of pre-retirees stated they plan to keep working and earning in retirement but will do so by working part-time and cycling between periods of work and leisure, thus creating a new model of retirement. Dr. Stephen F. Barnes (2007)

Formatted in white letters against a black background, these bold statements stand out in a new documentary film by Dr. Suzanne Cook, Redirection: Movers, Shakers and Shifters.

Despite the statistics reported in her film, the professor, educator and Social Gerontologist at York University foresees positive transitions for Canada’s aging population.

Shaking or Shifting

“People can transfer their skills and knowledge in a new direction,” she told employment professionals earlier this week in a Toronto screening at CERIC – The Canadian Education and Research Institute for Counselling. “It might be doing something completely different or redirecting an existing talent or skill.”

”It’s a burning issue across Canada. It’s not about when will one retire. It’s about thinking ahead for the next 10 to 20 years.”

Redirection interweaves five narratives of ageing adults who have repositioned into second careers:

  • A York University professor emeritus who struggled with heart disease, ‘searching for permanence and stability’ in the antique refinishing and resale trade.
  • A fashionable older woman, out of work when her family aircraft business closes, who finds meaningful work in a woman’s clothing shop.
  •  A 60-year-old call centre worker. After prolonged depression and unemployment wipes out her savings, she is hired by the CAA.
  • A female computer network trainer who transitions into dual careers, teaching yin yoga and dog agility training.
  • A fifty-plus software developer from Pakistan who embraces Canada’s entrepreneurial spirit to start his own business.

Pushing the Boundaries

Dr. Cook made the film to push the boundaries of the study of older adults from the academic textbook into a more popular and practical medium. She envisions it being shared by career counsellors with individuals and groups, and at community employment and economic development events. A companion guide will direct professionals with their aging clients.

The five profiles in the film can inspire people who feel stuck and lost. Still, Dr. Cook’s research indicated many who were unable to shift into new employment.

“I was inspired by the hopefulness and optimism of many job seekers; however, many people are also frustrated, angry, and even bitter,” she said. “All of these individuals are greatly in need of employment assistance.” She intends to make a sequel to Redirections about an individual in the process of the job search and career transition.

Redirections was nearly a year in the making. Production started in January of this year with filmmaker Andrew Budziak of 8 String Media. It premiered in Montreal in October, then showed to Toronto audiences, including the CERIC screening. There are additional screenings scheduled in other locations across Canada.

On January 23, 2017, the film will be screened in Ottawa at Cannexus, a CERIC-sponsored career development conference. It will be released online at a future date.

The film trailer is available here:

This article originally appeared on LinkedIn.