Career Transitions in Midlife: Preparing for Retirement and Long-Term Care

Midlife career transitions often serve as a strategic step toward retirement preparation, allowing individuals to align their professional lives with future financial stability and long-term care planning. These shifts can be crucial in ensuring a secure and comfortable retirement.

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Career Transitions in Midlife: Preparing for Retirement and Long-Term Care
6 Min Read December 20th, 2023

"Life is what happens to you when you are busy making other plans." - John Lennon.

True, we often find ourselves at crucial crossroads in our lives, education, and careers. And this can happen at any stage of our lives, not only when we are young. Considering a career shift or preparing for retirement in your midlife is a crossroad that needs to be re-examined and definitely not taken for granted.

The midlife career change, once considered an oddity, is becoming increasingly common as individuals in their 40s and 50s seek more meaningful and fulfilling work. Recent data provides an interesting overview of this trend, highlighting how common these professional changes are and what specific features they have.

According to a 2023 AARP study, nearly 20% of Americans aged 45-54 have considered a career change, with almost 10% actively pursuing one. This signifies a shift in mindset, with more individuals prioritizing personal satisfaction and work-life balance alongside traditional career goals. 

Interestingly, the numbers break down differently by gender: women are slightly more likely than men to consider or attempt a change, possibly due to factors like gender-specific career expectations and caregiving responsibilities.


But the story doesn't end at 50. The "retirement" label is increasingly becoming a misnomer, with many individuals pursuing new careers after leaving traditional full-time work. A 2022 study by Merrill Lynch Wealth Management found that 51% of retirees expect to work in some capacity during their retirement years. 

This trend is driven by various factors, including financial considerations, a desire to stay mentally and socially engaged, and pursuing new passions. Again, gender plays a role, with men more likely to re-enter the workforce for financial reasons, while women may be motivated by a mix of financial and personal fulfillment.

These statistics highlight the evolving nature of work in the 21st century. As societal norms shift and technology reshapes industries, midlife career changes are becoming less of a departure and more of a natural progression. Individuals in their 40s, 50s, and beyond are increasingly empowered to seek work aligning with their values, skills, and evolving aspirations, paving the way for a more dynamic and fulfilling professional landscape.

To help you navigate this transition confidently, here are some essential tips on accepting the future new job requirements and facing potential changes they might bring.

Assess Your Financial Situation

Before making any career transition, closely examine your financial situation. Understanding the specifics of your financial health is paramount for making solid preparations based on solid calculations.

  • Calculate your retirement savings and potential sources of income during retirement to get a clear picture of your financial status.
  • Consider evaluating your current expenses and anticipated living costs during retirement, considering potential health care and long-term care needs.
  • Consulting with a financial advisor can provide valuable insights into optimizing your financial strategy. They can help you identify potential risks, explore investment opportunities, and create a financial plan that supports comfortable retirement and long-term care arrangements. 

Explore Retirement Lifestyle Options

Whether you're thinking of switching careers or smoothly transitioning to retirement, you must consider what you expect from your retirement.

For example, nearly 38% of retirees choose to downsize their homes as part of their retirement strategy. But there are a lot of people (nearly 50%) who'd rather travel instead of budgeting and considering retirement homes.

However, if you consider continuing to work, you'd have to face the real challenge: you'd either be less paid or be asked to upgrade your skills.

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Develop a Long-Term Care Plan

Long-term care can be a significant financial burden. Data obtained by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services shows that 70% of people turning 65 can expect to need help with at least one activity of daily living, and about half will require some form of long-term care in the future. 

Thus, thinking about how you will pay for the various long-term care options, such as in-home care, assisted living facilities, and nursing homes, is a good idea.

Few employers offer Long-Term Care Insurance; however, the right career can help pay for the premium to protect your income and assets from the rising cost of care, ensuring access to quality care and easing the burdens otherwise placed on loved ones. 

Some employers offer Health Savings Accounts and even match contributions. You can use the pre-tax money from an HSA to pay for the premium.

·        LTC Insurance Tax Deduction Amounts and HSA Contribution Limits for 2024

Thinking about long-term care and retirement allows you to better plan how much you need to work or what kind of salary you should be "chasing."

Upgrade Your Skills

If you plan to continue working (freelance or part-time) during retirement or switch to a new career, investing in skill upgrades can significantly enhance your marketability. Some courses and skills are particularly valuable in today's job market."

  • Digital Marketing Certification: With the growing importance of online presence, a certification in digital marketing can open doors to various roles, from social media management to content marketing.
  • Data Analytics Training: Data is driving decision-making across industries. Learning data analytics tools like Google Analytics or Python can be invaluable for making data-driven choices in your career.
  • Project Management Certification (PMP): Whether you're in IT, health care, or any other field, project management skills are in high demand. PMP certification is recognized worldwide and can boost your employability.
  • Coding and Programming Skills: Learning programming languages like Python, Java, or JavaScript can be a ticket to a range of tech-related careers, including web development and software engineering.
  • Remote Work Skills: Given the rise in remote work, mastering virtual collaboration tools like Slack, Zoom, and project management software can set you apart in the job market.
  • Language Courses: Multilingualism is a valuable asset. Learning a new language, especially one in demand like Spanish, Mandarin, or French, can open up opportunities in international markets.
  • Cybersecurity Training: With the increasing frequency of cyber threats, cybersecurity skills are crucial. Courses in ethical hacking or cybersecurity management can lead to well-paid roles.

Update Your Resume and Online Presence

Revamping your resume and enhancing your online presence is essential for a successful career transition. Consider these key steps:

  • LinkedIn Profile Optimization: Ensure your LinkedIn profile is complete, with a professional photo, comprehensive summary, and details of your skills and experiences. Actively engage with connections and relevant groups to demonstrate your industry knowledge.
  • Resume Tailoring: Customize your resume for the specific job or industry you're targeting. Highlight transferable skills gained throughout your career that align with your new path. Use quantifiable achievements to showcase your value to potential employers.
  • Online Portfolio: If applicable, create an online portfolio or personal website showcasing your work, projects, or case studies. This provides tangible evidence of your abilities.
  • Professional Headshot: Invest in a professional headshot for both your resume and LinkedIn profile. A polished image conveys credibility and professionalism.

A computer a cup of coffee on a table.

Network and Seek Mentorship

Effective networking and mentorship are crucial during your career transition, especially in midlife. Sure, you might have the expertise, but potential employers would like to dig deeper into why you are transitioning. Or, quite simply, they might consider employing younger people who might be easier to train and adapt.

This is why it's crucial to put in more effort and seek a mentor, a trusted professional who would pave your way and introduce you to the demanded circles.

  • Diverse Connections: Connect with professionals from various backgrounds within your desired industry.
  • Industry Engagement: Attend industry events and join online forums to stay informed and meet like-minded individuals.
  • Mentorship Guidance: Seek experienced mentors for insights and valuable connections (even if you have to hire them in the first place). Focus on influential individuals who can introduce you to key contacts and opportunities.

Consider Phased Retirement

Phased retirement allows you to gradually reduce your working hours or responsibilities while transitioning into retirement. This approach can provide a smoother shift from a full-time career to retirement, allowing you to maintain financial stability while enjoying more leisure time.

Though it's not an actual career shift, it's a big change to your daily routine and might just do the trick of making a change while staying financially stable—all of this without worrying whether you're a good fit for that job and going through dozens of job interviews.


Midlife career transitions demand thoughtful planning and a strategic approach. Don't hesitate to seek guidance from experts in career transitions.

Career coaches, counselors, and professionals specializing in midlife transitions can provide invaluable support and help you navigate this significant phase of your life with confidence and success.

Embrace the opportunities that lie ahead, and remember that it's never too late to pursue a fulfilling and rewarding career path.

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About the Author

Jacob Thomas is a part-time writer who focuses on health, wellness, and retirement topics, including aging, caregiving, insurance, and long-term care. His writing serves as a means to delve into his interests and provide valuable information for those dealing with aging parents and preparing for their own future and retirement plans.

LTC News Contributor Jacob Thomas

Jacob Thomas

Contributor since August 10th, 2023

Editor's Note

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