Age Is Just A Number

There is a popular meme that says “Age is just a number”.  That means age doesn’t matter, it’s your outlook and attitude that matters. Is that true?

As we older baby boomers start turning age 71, age does seem to matter less. We have passed the milestones of age 55 for getting senior discounts, age 65 for getting medicare and age 70 for starting our required minimal distributions for withdrawing part of our IRAs.

Whereas in high school our friends were within one or two class grades of us, now we have friends of all different ages.  We can hang out with people a decade younger than us or a couple of decades older than us.

We are also reminded that age is just a number when we see the different conditions of people the same age. That is physical, mental, emotional, financial, you name it. We are all over the place on the spectrum. Age matters less than other things that effected our lives, doesn’t it.

On the other hand, time marches on. If you are turning 71 now, you will hopefully be turning 81 in 10 short years and 90 in 19 years.  Think back 10 years to 2007 and how long ago that was. Not very long, it was like yesterday!

Age does take it’s toll on us, no doubt. No one is immune from it’s effects. Aging gracefully with a positive attitude takes an effort, no doubt.

We are all in this together.  We are loosing spouses and classmates to death. My high school class has a Facebook page set up for death announcements and I got another notification this morning. Long time friends get dementia and it could happen to you or your spouse as well. There are no guarantees, but we know that by now.

Yes, there are a lot of things for us older baby boomers to worry about.

But there is also a lot of things to enjoy and look forward to. By this time a lot of you are enjoying your grand and great grand kids. I see people going to the gym, walking, hiking and enjoying the outdoors.  I just came back from the National Senior Games and am motivated by what I saw there. People are volunteering and supporting things they believe in.  Some people are enjoying their church families. Here at our 55+ Active Adult Communities, people really like to travel and see the world. People like to keep learning their whole lifetime and it’s nice to be able to learn something not work related, something that you have an interest in. Many people like to read, some just to meditate, some like to putter around, but  doing what you like to do is something to enjoy.  I could keep going.

Age is a number, but we can deal with it. Enjoy the day. No use in putting things off. The future is now. Do something you like to do. Travel while you can. Learn something new. Walk in the park. Help someone. Be active. Peace.

Robert Fowler

Aging “With Purpose”

I have been reading With Purpose (Going from Success to Significance in Work and Play) a book by Ken Dychtwald, PH.D.   This author specializes in the study of aging, maturity and retirement.   A few months ago I read his book The Power Years and thought is was one of the better shall we say, Baby Boomer books that I have read.   I kept that book for future reference.

With Purpose begins with the author’s eight page Introduction letting the reader know about his long history and lifetime study of aging, beginning in his early twenties at a time when not much attention was paid to the older folks. With the demographic Age Wave finally here, the author’s insights are indeed interesting and exciting I found.  Some of the interesting items in the book deal with:

1. Our concept of age is changing.  In a single generation, sixty-two went from “such a long life”, to “he died so young”.  I find that relevant, since I am age 62 and agree with the latter.

2. The author is convinced that life’s prolonged second half will provide an opportunity for people to chart a new course. People are going back to school, starting a new business, finding new passions, falling in love again, re-building their health.

3. People want to stay engaged longer.  Mental stimulation and making a contribution are the reasons with money down the list.

4. The author projects that the age wave with make it increasing challenging for governments and pensions and that we are seeing a seismic shift from entitlement to financial self-reliance.  (Note: he got that right!)

OK, so much for the Introduction

5. The first chapter includes the author describing how the maturing Boomer can turn their lives from success to significance.  The author asks When is the last time you did something significant, did something for someone else for the greater good and didn’t expect something in return?  Speaking of purpose, only by giving back – is true fulfillment possible.

6. In one study of aging the author did, some elders biggest regret looking back on their life was “the great amounts of time they had spent going through life on autopilot, doing what was expected – as so many of us do almost without thought”.   The author  reminds us that some part of us ought to be constantly looking ahead – to when you’ll be looking back at the decisions you made along the way.  Good point.

7. So the concept of success needs an overhaul for the next phase of our lives.  Maybe it shouldn’t be about money and advancement; maybe it should be about personal growth, contribution to the greater good, warm relationships, genuine happiness, and finding purpose in everything you do.

Then there’s the story of Randy Pausch who dying of cancer gave his last lecture to a group of students with an inspiring message of hope, patience, and no regrets.  His message included included:  Loyalty is two way street, he said.  Never give up. Accept help and give it. Tell the truth.  Apologize when you screw up.  Focus on others, not yourself.  Don’t bail.  Don’t complain, work harder.   Shut up and listen.  Be good at something because it makes you more valuable.   Work hard.   Be patient and you’ll find the best in everybody.   Dream.   Be prepared.  Mr. Pausch’s hour long lecture was his last.  He found his purpose as this speech went viral on the Internet and has inspired many, including me.