Hodges has office hours once a week at the Emerson, New Jersey, senior center where she carries out her duties as a public-health nurse for the borough of Emerson—a job she's held since 1967. She's got experience, and it shows, Levin writes.
According to Levin, most of Hodges' patients are older and come in to take check their blood pressure or get advice from a seasoned nurse. "They talk about this little pain, that little pain. Maybe I can be of some help to them," Hodges said.
For Hodges, her part-time job is just one piece of an active life. In addition to her weekly office hours, Hodges attends a monthly Emerson Board of Health meeting and takes continuing education classes provided by the Bergen County Department of Health Services.
"I want to keep working," Hodges said. "I want to leave this Earth with my boots on."
Anek Belbase, a research fellow at Boston College's Center for Retirement Research, said if someone's health holds up there is no reason they can't work into old age. Doing so, he added, can keep the brain active and maintain a person's ability to continue working.
An open letter to a remarkable nurse
Belbase speculated that a major reason someone continues to work into their 90s is to maintain their sense of purpose. "They're probably not doing it for the money at that age, but work gives their life meaning, makes them get up and go, and keeps them socially connected," he said.
Helen Hodges, who is married to Kathryn's son, said Kathryn's family checks on her every day—but they know who's boss. "She's a strong-willed lady and pretty much runs her own life and calls her own shots," Helen Hodges said.
And Kathryn Hodges plans to work as long as she can. "I always wanted to be a nurse, and I've always been one," she said. She added that if she ever has to stop working, she hopes "the good Lord would take me. I would want him to say, 'That's it'" (Levin, USA Today, 2/6).
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