Discover. Engage. Enjoy. Join us in Miami forLife@50+. Register today


Life Reimagined $10,000 Sweepstakes
New Year's Resolution Contest 2015
Rewards for Good Sweepstakes
Happy African American couple
Life Reimagined Renew Year
Life at 50+ - Register for the Digital Experience

Contests and

$10,000 Life Reimagined Sweepstakes

Enter for a chance to win up to $10,000 to help make your dreams a reality. See rules

Older Workers, Please Apply

Vita Needle factory embraces age-friendly policies

Rosa Finnegan working at Vita Needle company primarily composed of senior citizens.

Rosa Finnegan, 99, is Vita Needle's oldest worker. The fifth-generation family-owned company has a workforce primarily composed of older employees. — Photo by: Sandy Hooper/Aurora Select


Employing septuagenarians, octogenarians and nonagenarians means it's not always business as usual, however. "As an operations manager running production, it's challenging," says Michael LaRosa, 52. "You have to do a lot of cross-training, since older people don't just get colds and stay out of work for a day; they fall down or break their hip and are out for three months." It may be extra work for LaRosa, but employees like learning different skills.

"It's wonderful! There are so many things I am trained to do I can't get bored," says Finnegan, who last year at this time was in a nursing home for a month with nerve damage in her feet but now hitches a ride every day with a coworker to her 25-hour-a-week, 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. job. "If I'm sick of doing one thing, they give me something else."

Employees wind up at the dance-hall-turned-factory mostly through word of mouth, although the business sometimes recruits at senior centers and in local newspapers. Vita's ads stress the diversity of tasks and flexible scheduling — one worker may choose to clock in at 5 a.m., another at 2 p.m. For now, the suburban company has stacks of applicants and little attrition.

It wasn't always the case. In the 1980s and 1990s, Vita needed to expand, but there was a labor shortage. The only applicants were middle-age and older retirees. So the company decided to give it a shot. Management immediately recognized their work ethic, enthusiasm and excellent results. For three-quarters of employees, the factory job is their second career. The company has hired an eclectic mix: an engineer, circus performer, assembly line operator and waitress (Finnegan's former profession).

Next: Workers won't lose their jobs here. >>

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts


Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.

Jobs You Might Like

Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

UPS Store membership discount aarp benefits

Members save 15% on eligible products/services, 5% on UPS shipping at The UPS Store®.

membership adt

Small business owners save 20% on new installation of any new ADT security system.

Mujer en la parte de afuera de so negocio

Free quotes for members from the AARP® Small Business Insurance Program.

Member Benefits

Renew today! Members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.

Rewards for Good

Your Points Balance:

Learn More

Earn points for completing free online activities designed to enrich your life.

Find more ways to earn points

Redeem your points to save on merchandise, travel, and more.

Find more ways to redeem points

Advance your skills. Transform your career.

Explore your learning possibilities.