Years ago, in the naivete of youth, I thought I'd retire at 50. Then, it moved out to 55. Then, as Skip's disease progressed and we started having expenses I hadn't anticipated, such as for household assistance, I figured we were looking at many more years of employment before I could retire ... would probably have to delay until 62. And, since I worked at home, I figured I was extending the years during which I could work without issue, since I could care for Skip intermittently during the work day.
I should point out that I've pretty much wanted to retire since I began working. I know there are some people out there who don't want to stop working. I do not count myself among them. I've enjoyed aspects of all my jobs and found satisfaction from them in many ways, but always looked forward to the day when my time wasn't spoken for by an employer. Maybe this is because I've never found a job that I was passionate about.
After being laid off, as I thought about finding a new job -- learning the ropes, having all those new responsibilities -- the prospect of imminent retirement looked better and better. I've found it very hard over the last few years to handle the triad of responsibilities for caregiving, a demanding job and self-care. And, when anything got deferred on the margin, it was always the self-care that got kicked to the curb. I thought if I didn't have to manage a job, I might actually start exercising, cooking healthfully and getting more sleep, all things I'd stopped over the last few years.
Also, if it turns out we can't swing retirement financially, having a significant gap in my resume isn't likely to be a huge issue during this "jobless recovery." There are millions of folks in the US who have been jobless for really long periods of time. Otherwise, the President and Congress wouldn't have extended unemployment benefits for up to 99 weeks. (Unfortunately, this extension is only in force for the folks who were unemployment in May 2010.)
I am still browsing the career sites and the sites of companies that I know employ home-based employees. Keeping those options open while I give retirement a spin!