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 In retirement, Paul LaRiviere works as a driver, a job that he says is gratifying.

In retirement, Paul LaRiviere works as a driver, a job that he says is gratifying.

Photo by Deb Jacques


Seniors stay on the clock in their golden years

By: Mary Beth Almond | C&G Newspapers | Published February 11, 2020

 Chris Coulter, of Rochester Hills, works in the café at the Rochester Older Persons’ Commission and loves the social aspect of her job.

Chris Coulter, of Rochester Hills, works in the café at the Rochester Older Persons’ Commission and loves the social aspect of her job.

Photo by Deb Jacques

METRO DETROIT — Whether it’s to fatten the wallet, to be social or simply to maintain a sense of accomplishment, many seniors are choosing to stay in the workforce after retirement.

At 91, Ralph C. Heuerman continues to work part time three to four days per week as a pharmacist in Bloomfield Hills — a position he has held for 29 years.

Heuerman said he was never able to retire, for financial reasons.

“The profession — in my time — limited the hours, so they don’t have to pay you as much, so they don’t have to pay retirement. That’s why I’m still working,” he said.

During the many years Heuerman has been employed in Bloomfield Hills, he’s built relationships with many of his clients.

“It’s my social hour too,” he said. “(I enjoy) meeting people. I’ve worked there long enough that people recognize who I am and we have a little chat, so it’s both social and professional.”

The job is a flexible one, allowing Heuerman to take off a month or two at a time for travel. He said it’s also a very rewarding profession.

“I think there is a responsibility there that makes you feel good when you practice,” he said.

Chris Coulter, 66, of Rochester Hills, is a nutrition assistant in the café at the Rochester Older Persons’ Commission.

Coulter previously worked full time in the restaurant business, but she decided to retire after having a couple of knee replacements.

“I’m not the kind of person, after working all my life, to just sit around the house, so I was looking for something part time where I could still use my strengths,” she said. “I love being around people — that will keep me young too, communicating with people — so that’s the reason why I work.”

Coulter has been putting in 20-25 hours a week by working four days at the OPC since October.

“I like to get out of the house,” she said. “It gives me something to do every day, so I know I have to get up, take a shower, get dressed, get in my car and go somewhere. ... If I didn’t have to do that every day, I’m not sure I would get out of the house.”

Coulter said continuing to work allows her to be social and keeps her mind and body active.

“As I get older, I find that I need to be around people and communicate,” she said. “I love it, because a lot of the people that come in there are my age, and I love talking to them.”

The paycheck is an added bonus, she said.

“The little bit of extra money to buy the groceries, et cetera, is another part I like,” she said.

After Paul LaRiviere, 70, of Rochester Hills, retired from a 35-year career at Chrysler, he got on the payroll at the Older Persons’ Commission as a transportation driver.

“I’m a member of OPC, and one of the guys I used to work with at Chrysler was, and still is, a driver at OPC. I got talking to him, put my application in, and a year later, I got the call,” he said. “I’ve never looked back. I love it.”

LaRiviere typically works eight hours three days a week taking seniors to and from their homes to the OPC, doctor appointments or out shopping.

“I have friends that all they do is travel. And if they aren’t traveling, they’re planning on traveling, and if they aren’t planning on traveling, they’re babysitting the grandkids — so they keep busy that way. This is the way I keep busy,” he said. “I drive people around that cannot drive, for whatever reason, and it’s a feel-good job. It’s something I like to do, it makes me feel good and it occupies my time.”

LaRiviere said he also enjoys the social aspect of his job, which he said provides a much-needed service for seniors.

“Our riders are happy people. And I tell you, we get thanked just about every day. The service is what they love,” he said. “During the day, we also get a lot of people that need help — whether it’s carrying groceries up to their door, putting them on the lift, walking behind them so that they don’t fall, or holding onto their arm. It’s very gratifying.”