Lantern Hill resident Gabe Spera, like many older Americans, chooses to stay in the workforce.
Gabe Spera has come full circle in his career as a salesman. Sixty years ago, he was just starting out, making cold calls, meeting new people every day. After working his way up the ladder to vice president of sales for Hunt Imaging, he’s now right back where he started—and happier than ever.
When Spera retired in October 2015, just six weeks after moving to Lantern Hill, an Erickson Living developed and managed retirement community in New Providence, New Jersey; he discovered he missed the daily routine, the sense of purpose. He took a part-time job working from his home office selling Ricoh printers and copiers.
“You know what’s nice about working in retirement?” Spera asks, rhetorically. “You’ve already accumulated the money at my age to keep you viable for the rest of your life. So the money isn’t an issue. It’s the activity.”
The activity he enjoys most is interacting with people. “If you enjoy what you do, you never work a day in your life. That’s the way I always approached my profession. To me, it’s a lot of fun. I enjoy interacting with people and getting out there.”
As an added benefit, he says, “if I can provide them with a benefit that improves their overall operation, I take a lot of satisfaction in that.”
Spera is part of a national demographic employment trend. Employment rates for older adults are the highest they’ve been in 55 years. Almost 19 percent of people 65 or older were working at least part-time in the second quarter of 2017, according to the U.S. jobs report (June 2017). What’s more, a rapidly growing number of Americans are continuing to work beyond their 65th birthday according to PEW Research Center.
Spera believes this is a positive trend.
“I really feel that as long as you’re healthy, you should engage in some kind of activity even if it’s work,” he says.
“Our residents are role models in the way they choose to pursue their passion and live active lifestyles,” says Lantern Hill Executive Director Patricia Swan-Jacobs. “Residents like Gabe truly love what they are doing, and they are doing it with enthusiasm.”
For Spera, working part-time fits his lifestyle. “I can work at my own pace and also enjoy the leisure activities like golf and gardening that I’ve always been involved with,” he says. “If I get up in the morning and I feel like working, I make some sales calls. When the season changes and I’ll be able to play golf and tend to my gardening, I’ll probably work less.”
The maintenance-free Lantern Hill lifestyle frees him up from the “mundane chores that I had to do around my house. I no longer have concerns about someone coming to cut the grass or shovel the snow. You free your mind of all those things, and you just attend to what you enjoy,” he says.
In addition to working and golfing, Spera tends to a municipal garden space at the New Providence Municipal Center. He grows tomatoes, which he shares with his Lantern Hill neighbors.
He also joined the Lions Club and Republican Party of New Providence.
“I have a lot of energy, and I want to keep active,” Spera says. “The combination [of work and leisure activity] is wonderful. It always feels good to put a couple of dollars in your pocket regardless of how much you have. It makes you feel productive.”
About Lantern Hill: Lantern Hill, one of 19 continuing care retirement communities managed by Erickson Living®, is situated on a scenic 20-acre campus in New Providence, New Jersey. The community is located in Union County and is home to 250 residents. Additional information about Lantern Hill can be found at LanternHillCommunity.com.