Enough said.

At lunch this week with a longtime newspaper friend, he admitted wondering how much longer he might be able to work in the profession that has defined most of our lives for so many years.

“I’m 59,” he said.  ‘I hope I can last a few more years before being forced into early retirement.”

Early retirement?  I knew people who hoped to retire in their 50s to finish out their lives concentrating on something they might do in their 50s.

Full retirement, however, is becoming a “pipe dream” to many because retirement planning has fallen short of economic realities as they approach their later years.

Even worse, too many employers appear to ignore the Age Discrimination Act of 1967 that is supposed to outlaw explicit discrimination against those age 40 and older.

The U.S. Employment Opportunity Commission reports a 15 percent increase of charges of age discrimination over the past decade and a survey by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) shows two-thirds of workers between 45 and 74 has faced ageism — discrimination against them because of their age.

Writes Kristi Hedges in Forbes:

Women or men, age discrimination is likely an issue that’s only going to get worse, as baby boomers plan on working into their later years. Workers in their 50s are no longer at the downslope of their careers. People are now working 15-20 years after that, into their sixties, seventies and even eighties, and partially for economic reasons. As Brian Schaffer, a New York employment lawyer, describes the situation of boomers who have suffered through a troubled economy, “…the older generation doesn’t have the money to retire and then live 20 more years.”

I “technically retired” at age 56 when we moved from Washington to Floyd in 2004 to, in large part, to help take care of my aging mother.  I left a career as a photojournalist behind after 23 years working in the nation’s capital in both newspapers and as a political operative and came to Floyd with no job in hand but with a 401K that we thought would protect us in our later years.

The cost of extended care for my mother helped deplete the retirement savings and I now work 50-70 hours a week producing stories and photos for The Floyd Press, BH Media and other news outlets along with assigned video work for broadcast and satellite outlets.  Retirement will probably come when they zip up my body bag.

Which is OK, because I love what I do and I would not be happy otherwise.

I will work until I drop and hope to be smiling along the way.