Frank Gertsma

Seniors decide retirement doesn’t suit them

Frank Gertsma, 85, and Telford Nault, 74, buck trend and work into their senior years.

At 85, Frank Gertsma has no interest in retiring.

“[Work] is a vehicle to keep me busy and keep me connected with people. I need to stay busy,” said Gertsma, who helps his sons, Scott and Neil out with their Home Hardware stores in Sooke and Victoria.

For three decades, Gertsma, operated Sooke Home Hardware, often working seven days a week.

These days, Gertsma still helps out at the store doing “little chores whenever I feel like it.”

“My game plan is that when I wake up in the morning, if I’ve got a project in mind that I think needs to be done, well, then I’m eager to get at it and get it done,” he said.

Gertsma is among a rapidly growing number of Canadians who are defying the traditional age of retirement.

Statistics Canada says the average age of retirement climbed from 61 in 2005 to 63 in 2015.

The latest data shows the number of senior citizens still working has skyrocketed by 62 per cent in the past decade. Almost one out of every eight people over 65 still works. A decade ago, that ratio was less than one in 13.

Gertsma stressed the importance of a job, however, as opposed to only a hobby that may not be as satisfying and consistent.

“When you’re getting ready for retirement, if you have a hobby, or an outside interest, make sure that it isn’t something that you’ll get tired of when you can work at it, five, eight hour days a week,” he said.

He’s certainly not the only one who feels this way.

Telford Nault, 74, works part time as a funeral director for Care Funeral Homes in Sooke, a career that has spanned 58 years.

“If you like what you do, you don’t work a day in your life, and that’s absolutely true,” he said, adding it’s not only a matter of how you keep busy in your golden years, but also of choosing an occupation that is fulfilling.

“I don’t know any other job where you can get up and you can be involved with people going through the worst time in their life and being able to do something to help them. That’s the goal for me.”

As advice for anyone who is looking to retire, his mantra is rather simple.

“Don’t do it unless you have something to take its place,” which is something both Nault and Gertsma agree on.

“If you’re in good health, and you like your job, and the employer has a place for you, my suggestion is keep working,” Gertsma said.

At this point, Nault says he wants to hang on to his funeral director’s license for as long as he can, regardless of when that might be.

“One day, I’ll be coming in the back door,” he laughed.