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Bold Boomer Series: The Semi-Retired Life

(Editor’s note: Welcome to the second installment of the Bold Boomer Series, which will delve into various topics affecting the “Baby Boomer” generation. Check out the first installment, which explored innovative solutions for healthcare expenses in retirement, here!)

Each year, millions of adults reach retirement age and are faced with some important life decisions. Some cannot wait to enter this new phase of their lives for which they have anxiously awaited. But not everyone is ready to completely forego job-related responsibilities and activities. For some, they enjoy the added financial perks provided. Others value the sense of purpose a job offers. For these reasons, many are choosing a semi-retired life over full retirement. Instead of no longer working altogether, they transition into their later years through a process of semi-retirement. This trend is actually much more common that many might appreciate.

According to recent statistics, there will be over 13 million older adults who’ll remain in the workforce in 2024. While some of these individuals will persist in their full-time careers, many will embrace a semi-retired life. In this regard, semi-retirement refers to those adults who continue to work in a more limited capacity. This often means working fewer hours with less stress and commitment to a job. However, some decide to pursue new endeavors on their own that are more personally fulfilling. Regardless of the rationale, it’s clear that trends among many older adults favoring semi-retirement are increasing.

“After a lifetime of hard work and the stress of the daily grind, retirement can be a daunting concept…How they will invest their time and continue to have meaning in their lives is a real and emotional challenge…” – Tim Golas, partner, Spurstone Executive Wealth Solutions

The Attraction to a Semi-Retired Life

When it comes to the allure of semi-retirement, there are a number of reasons would-be retirees choose this option. By far, the most common motivations are financial ones. For example, those who have limited retirement income or rely on Social Security alone enjoy the additional income. Working part-time allows them to supplement their regular payments and enjoy a better lifestyle in the process. Others do so in an effort to delay taking out retirement funds or to continue retirement savings for later years. The financial advantages that a semi-retired life offers encourage many to pursue this route.

(Read more about the importance of maximizing retirement savings in this Project Bold Life story!)

While financial motivations are strong for the majority, these certainly aren’t the only reasons to pursue semi-retirement. Some older individuals enjoy being productive and working on a regular basis. Though they might want to work less and reduce workload demands, they aren’t quite ready to forego employment altogether. Jobs offer them a sense of purpose and can boost self-confidence and self-esteem. At the same time, others see semi-retirement as an opportunity to pursue a new business that more fulfilling. Whether it’s a small business or a non-profit, they cherish the chance to focus on something they value. Each of these reasons explain why many choose a semi-retired life over a fully-retired one.

“Working into retirement or opting for semi-retirement can be great for longevity and quality of life, not only because it helps a person maintain their mental faculties, but it also generally increases social interaction…” – Matthew J. Ure, Vice President, Anthony Capital, LLC

Semi-Retirement Work Opportunities

Despite many people choosing a semi-retired life, the way they go about varies significantly. The easiest option for semi-retirement is to simply cut back hours and/or responsibilities with an existing employer. Working only a few days or hours a week, or taking a much larger amount of vacation time, is one approach. Others leave their current jobs and become consultants in their fields of expertise. Depending on one’s experience and area of knowledge, consulting gigs can be quite lucrative. Plus, consulting roles naturally allow semi-retired professionals to limit just how much they work.

An older dude working on his tablet
Semi-retirement means skipping the daily grind, but sticking to the work you love.

Other people interested in a semi-retired life take the opportunity to create a new chapter in their lives. Some may start a small business, leveraging what they have learned in past endeavors. In fact, the rate of small business success is higher for older entrepreneurs than younger ones. Others are taking advantage of current work-from-home trends and pursuing contract labor positions. Various opportunities related to writing, marketing, accounting, and web design exist in this regard. Lastly, some work part-time in community organizations in an effort to create new social networks. This can be quite helpful in avoiding social isolation after leaving one’s longstanding place of employment.

“The culture is changing. More people want to stay active and continue contributing to society. A semi-retirement could be the best of both worlds.” – Patrick Traverse, Investment Advisor Representative, MoneyCoach

Important Considerations in Semi-Retirement

Notably, many of the reasons people choose a semi-retired life are certainly worthwhile. But at the same time, it’s important to consider some important aspects that might be readily apparent at first. Most importantly, the income received from part-time employment or new jobs can affect other retirement income. For example, if one retires before retirement age, incomes over $19,560 can start to reduce Social Security benefits. The same is true for incomes exceeding $52,000 for those past retirement age. This may mean that some retirement planning is needed in order to maximize advantages.

In addition to these financial effects, other considerations may also be relevant. For example, if income from semi-retirement is substantial enough, it could place someone in a higher income tax bracket. Therefore, knowing how your choices affect overall income tax amounts is important. Likewise, health plans might be affected by working a semi-retired life. Continuing to work with an existing employer might allow you to keep accessing company health plans. This could be advantageous of disadvantageous if one if Medicare age. Knowing all the potential ramifications is thus something that’s worth investigating.

Personalized Decision-Making in Retirement

When it comes to retirement, everyone will have their own set of preferences. Some will be more than ready to leave their jobs behind and pursue a life of leisure. But others may not, and for them, a semi-retired life is quite attractive. Notably, there are many options when it comes to semi-retirement, and choices must be individualized. Likewise, there are several considerations to take into account. But many today are opting for this type of lifestyle in their post-retirement years. For them, the benefits are simply too appealing to pass by.

 

Believe it or not, “Baby Boomer” goals are Bold Goals, too. Read more in this recent Notes From Ed!

Taking Out the Space Trash – The Rising Threat of Space Debris

Over the course of the last several years, major achievements have been made in relation to space travel and development. Last year saw the billionaire space race in full competition mode, and a return to the moon soon seems inevitable. Elon Musk is developing his Starlink system in an effort to improve broadband Internet access. And dozens of companies are exploring various industries beyond Earth’s realm. Without question, the space economy is blossoming right before our very eyes. But that doesn’t mean it’s not going to be without its set of challenges. And one of those challenges involves space debris and the obstacles to be overcome with space junk removal.

(Read more about the Billionaire Space Race and its moon prospects in this Bold story!)

Over the last several decades, an ever-increasing amount of space debris has accumulated, predominantly in Earth’s lower orbits. This debris ranges in size from tiny particles the size of a screw to much larger obsolescent satellites. Not only does is the accumulating space garbage bothersome from an environmental perspective. But it’s now posing serious threats to needed installations ranging from telecommunications to national defense. As a result, solutions are rapidly being sought that can expedite space junk removal sooner rather than later. But as one might expect, finding effective solutions to the problem is much harder than expected.

“This [space] debris and associated congestion threaten the long-term sustainability of the space domain. It demands action.” Gen. David Thompson, Vice Chief of Space Operations, U.S. Space Force

The Space Debris Problem

When it comes to space debris, it’s more than simply a volume problem. However, the amount of space garbage now in Earth’s low orbit is quite substantial. The Pentagon states it routinely tracks about 40,000 objects in space that are the size of a baseball or larger. But smaller pieces of space debris also exist and are even higher in number. Estimates suggest that these smaller fragments are ten times the amount of the larger ones. And they can cause a significant amount of damage as well. Over the last few years, the International Space Station has suffered cracked windows and damaged robotic arms from these fragments. And after a recent Russian satellite was purposefully detonated, ISS astronauts had to evacuate for safety.

Naturally, removing these fragments from space would be ideal, but space junk removal isn’t so simple. The fragments are routinely travelling more than 15,000 miles per hour, and they are also tumbling and rotating unpredictably. Therefore, any space junk removal solution has to account for this, and thus far, proposals aren’t cheap. Designing spacecraft that can remove old rocket stages, dead satellites, and small space debris is challenging, to say the least. But there’s little question that something has to be done. Unless effective space junk removal operations are developed, catastrophes will become increasingly more likely.

“Just as we rely on the government to protect the air we breathe and the water we drink, we have to rely on the government to protect the resource and the global commons of low Earth orbit.” – James Lowenthal, Professor of Astronomy, Smith College, Massachusetts

Calling All Space Garbage Collectors

The Pentagon recognizes the problem the nation faces when it comes to rising space debris volumes. Not only can these fragments interfere with the ISS and telecommunication operations. But more importantly, they can take out military equipment used for a variety of operations. This includes various systems and satellite networks involved in the GPS-guidance of munitions and missiles as well as espionage technologies. Thus, it’s not only a cost and inconvenience issue but one of national security as well. As a result, the Pentagon is soliciting help from private contractors to provide space junk removal solutions.

A bunch of garbage floating around in orbit
There’s a lot of junk floating around in space… which means we need a space junk removal service.

The Pentagon’s current efforts in this regard involve its Orbital Prime Program. As part of this program, companies with space junk removal proposals can receive funding based on merit. During the first round of the program, qualified companies can receive up to $250,000 in funding. If they make it to the second round, the support increases to $1.5 million. During the final round, test demonstrations are then required before advancing further. Of course, the Pentagon is not the only agency pursuing space debris solutions. The European Space Agency is doing the same, supporting its own space junk removal process as well.

“We want the space economy to grow. We want to be an enabler of that. And we want to make sure that we’re doing that long term and that environment is there for future generations.” – Ron Lopez, President and Managing Director of Astroscale U.S

Companies in the Space Junk Removal Business

While effective space junk removal solutions have yet to be developed, some are investing heavily in the effort. For example, one company planning to participate in the Orbital Prime Program is Astroscale. Headquartered in Japan, Astroscale also has an office located in Denver, Colorado. Its plans to remove space debris from orbit involve designing spacecraft that can mimic a fragments spin and speed. Once this enables the spacecraft to move alongside the debris, a large magnet collects the object for removal. Thus far, the company has yet to produce a functional model. But they remain optimistic that they can overcome existing obstacles and eventually succeed.

Another company that’s pursuing solutions for space junk removal is Clear Space. As the name implies, this Swiss company also hopes to develop feasible ways to remove space debris from low Earth orbit. Instead of using a magnet, however, they have designed a spacecraft with long arms that grab and remove fragments through a clasping mechanism. Of course, it too will have to travel alongside any space debris present, which is not necessarily easy. Thus far, Clear Space has partnered with the European Space Agency in efforts to remove space garbage.

It Takes an International Village

In considering space debris that currently exists, the U.S., Russia and China account for the vast majority. From this perspective, it might be assumed that each nation should address their own space junk removal solutions. But in actuality, this is a global problem, and unless effective strategies are developed, space debris could significantly hinder progress. International collaboration in developing shared space junk removal solutions is thus needed. Private businesses will definitely play a notable role. But support from national governments will be required if the space economy is to move forward efficiently.

 

Want to leverage offshore capabilities for business process outsourcing? Bold Business has you covered.

The Potential Enteroendocrine Cell Breakthrough

For the last several decades, the number of overweight and obese individuals has risen to epidemic proportions. At the same time, chronic illnesses such as diabetes are also on the rise. These developments have encouraged researchers and scientists to investigate innovative ways to better manage these conditions. But to date, most therapies have had limited benefits or are associated with unwanted side effects. But based on recent discoveries, new options of care may be just around the corner. Scientists have identified several types of enteroendocrine cells that could provide new answers. If enteroendocrine cell function can be better defined, new options of care for a variety of conditions may be available.

While there are several types of enteroendocrine cells, each has the potential to stimulate the release of various hormones. It is these hormones that could then be used to treat gastrointestinal disorders related to digestion and metabolism. While further delineating enteroendocrine cell function might normally take years, new techniques are expected to speed up this process significantly. For this reason, many researchers are excited about the potential that these new cells could have. Scientists have a long way to go, but the future for enteroendocrine cells looks quite bright.

“There’s been interest in exploiting human intestinal stem cells and [enteroendocrine] cells to treat disease. But the field is still in a nascent stage. This will open new avenues of discovery.” – David Breault, MD, Ph.D., Associate Chief of the Division of Endocrinology, Boston Children’s Hospital

What Are Enteroendocrine Cells?

When it comes to intestinal cells, hundreds of millions exist. In this regard, enteroendocrine cells make up only 1% of all intestinal cells present. But that doesn’t mean there not significant in number of effects. In fact, various types of enteroendocrine cells are believed to represent the largest collection of endocrine cells in the body. And based on ongoing research findings, enteroendocrine cell function oversees a number of intestinal processes. To date, these cells are known to produce more than 15 different hormones that regulate dozens of cellular activities. They also appear to play a role in immune system functioning as well. Without a doubt, these cells are important, especially when it comes to metabolism and digestive health.

Various types of enteroendocrine cells exist throughout the intestinal lining. When nutrients enter the intestine, such as glucose and amino acids, these cells produce highly specific hormones. These hormones then trigger other intestinal cells to perform in specific ways. At the same time, microbes in the gut also guide enteroendocrine cell function. Different metabolites of different microbes determine which hormones these cells release. Depending on the situation, this may alter digestion and food absorption, or it could affect appetite or insulin production. This is why these cells may offer insights about managing conditions like diabetes. In short, these enteroendocrine cells play a significant intermediary role between what we eat and how our bodies react.

“The ultimate goal would be to identify a medication that induces the secretion of multiple hormones at once. This most likely mimics what happens in the body after a meal and may prevent side effects that could occur with the overproduction of just one hormone.” – Daniel Zeve, MD, Ph.D., Endocrinologist

Future Uses for Enteroendocrine Cell Function

The reason scientists are enthusiastic about enteroendocrine cell function relates to their hormone production capacities. For example, for the patient with Type I diabetes, manipulation of specific types of enteroendocrine cells could result in better insulin production. For those who are obese, hormones that promote feelings of satiety could better curb appetite. Plus, in this latter example, hormones produced by enteroendocrine cells would be less likely to have side effects. Because they tend to produce multiple hormones in a more balanced manner, the effect could be smoother and more effective.

A cell just splashing around, having fun
A breakthrough in enteroendocrine cell function could be key in fighting diabetes and obesity.

Of course, diabetes and obesity are not the only conditions that might be better served by enteroendocrine cell function. These cells are also involved in the immune response related to intestinal infections. Different types of enteroendocrine cells produce hormones and cytokines that can modulate an immune response. Thus, a microbe that is pathogenic stimulates a different enteroendocrine cell function than one that is benign. Therefore, these cells might be useful in managing autoimmune intestinal disorders and perhaps even irritable bowel syndrome. And ultimately, greater knowledge about these cells could help us determine how to create a healthy microbiome overall. (Read more about the optimal diet for a healthy gut biome in this Bold story.)

“We trust our gut with the food we eat. Sugar has both taste and nutritive value and the gut is able to identify both.” – Diego Bohórquez, Associate Professor of Medicine and Neurobiology, Duke University School of Medicine

New Techniques Advancing Enteroendocrine Cell Insights

While scientists have known about different types of enteroendocrine cells previously, new research techniques are accelerating their knowledge. Thanks to new approaches, researchers no longer have to go through lengthy genetic protocols to test hypotheses. Instead, they have been able to create small “organoids” composed of several cells upon which to test tissue responses. After taking adult intestinal biopsies that contain enteroendocrine cells, organoids are created. Different chemicals are then applied to these organoids to determine different enteroendocrine cell function. Using this method, researchers have already identified ways to stimulate the production of specific hormone combinations.

While organoid techniques have accelerated insights about enteroendocrine cell function related to hormones, they have helped in other ways. Other researchers have employed this same technique to study the interaction between different types of enteroendocrine cells and the brain. As it turns out, enteroendocrine cells not only release slow-acting hormones but fast-acting neurotransmitters as well. In these studies, scientists discovered that mice without taste buds could still distinguish between sugar and artificial sweeteners. As a result of enteroendocrine cell function, the lack of taste didn’t impair the mice’s ability to tell the difference. Assumedly, because enteroendocrine cells respond to nutrient value, they somehow signaled the brain regarding the quantitative difference in the sweeteners.

The Tip of the Enteroendocrine Cell Iceberg

When it comes to digestive health, scientists appreciate that they are just beginning to understand how enteroendocrine cell function works. Not only are there multiple types of enteroendocrine cells, but each type regulates different metabolic and digestive functions. However, they provide a key to better understanding many gastrointestinal disorders. And they perhaps hold the key to a better comprehension of microbiome variances. Therefore, we can likely expect to see much more research in this area in the years to come.

 

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