The U.S. is experiencing a massive demographic shift as more Americans remain working into their 80s and 90s, according to a demographics expert.

The workforce participation rate among older Americans bottomed out in the 1990s and has been steadily growing ever since, Bradley Schurman, the CEO of management consulting firm Human Change, said during the Retirement Coach’s Association Innovators & Collaborators Symposium on Tuesday. 

The was about 14% in the 1990s and now it is 25%, he said. Schurman anticipates that the labor participation rate among people over 65 will increase by a third in the next 10 years and nearly double for those over 75. That means many are planning to work well into their retirement years.

“Everything is turning around pretty quickly,” he said.

That does not mean everyone is working traditional 9-to-5 jobs. Many older workers are finding alternative ways to remain in the workforce. They will start a small business, become an entrepreneur, or even work part-time, Schurman told the audience.

One of the reasons older Americans are working is that they need the extra income, he said, as the decline of the nation's traditional pension system has forced retirees to deal with less income as well as higher healthcare costs.

Retirees also see a benefit to remaining physically and mentally active, he added. 

“Just by staying engaged for longer, you’re really doing yourself a long-term service, not just for your health, but also for your financial well-being,” he said.

Working also keeps people socially engaged, which has its own benefits, he said.

“When people pull away from work, and men in particular, they are at higher risk for social isolation and we know the negative health impacts of social isolation on people no matter what,” he said. “Just by staying engaged at work, you’re automatically building health resilience especially around mental and cognitive health.”

With more older men and women in the workforce and in workplace leadership positions, the concept of ageism is starting to fade as well, Schurman told the audience. Working older adults are breaking the traditional view that older people need to spend the last part of their lives isolated in retirement communities, he said.

That view is "changing pretty quickly because the labor force participation rate is going up and it will help alleviate some ageism,” he said.