Getting old sucks. If you wanted to describe how society views the aging process, these three words would probably sum it up.
As the founder of Sixty and Me, I have more information than most about how the process of getting older actually impacts our lives. I’ve had the opportunity to talk with thousands of women, who tell me their success stories… and horror stories. I’ve investigated new trends in aging and I write about the experience of life after 60 on a daily basis.
Through all of my conversations, research and writing, I have discovered something important – getting old, ain’t what it used to be.
The more I talk with women in the Sixty and Me community, the more I am convinced that the perceptions and fears that we have about aging are based on outdated models of the world.
The truth is that people are living longer, happier more fulfilling lives than ever before. Are there frustrating things about aging? Absolutely! Most people find it harder to stay in shape. Everyday stiffness and health concerns are real. Many people over 60 struggle financially. But, overall, there has never been a better time to be a person in your 60s, 70s or better.
Here are 4 reasons that getting old ain’t what it used to be…
If you turned 65 in 1935, you could expect to live just over a decade (12.5 years to be exact.) Fast-forward to today and a woman turning 65 will probably live at least 20 years. Frankly, this is probably a conservative estimate. With advances in medicine, biotechnology and genetics, women of our generation will routinely live well into their 90s.
Think back to where you were 20 years ago. Where were you when you were 45? If you had kids, they were probably finishing high-school or going to college. Regardless of your family circumstances, you were probably busy building your career.
20 years is a long time – especially if we choose to see life after 60 as a time of inevitable decline. Getting the most from the next 2 decades requires us to get in shape, eat well and take our health seriously. When we do, we will see that turning 60 is no longer the beginning of the end of our lives – it is the beginning of a new chapter in our lives.
There was a time, not so long ago, when life after 60 was supposed to be a time of quiet reflection and “aging gracefully.” Baby boomers today are refusing to be invisible. They are pursuing their passions with verve.
I know women in the Sixty and Me community who have gone back to university, started new careers, launched new businesses and travelled the world. This is not a matter of money. Our generation struggles with finding financial security, just like those that came before us. It is a matter of perspective. Men and women over 60 are simply refusing to go silently into the night.
What do you want to do with your life after 60? Are there dreams that you put on the backburner while you were taking care of your family? Are there things that you always wanted to do but weren’t sure if you had the time, ability or confidence? Now is the time to take of your invisibility cloak and show the world who you really are!
Depending on your perspective, the fact that retirement is no longer a destination, but a process, could signify everything that is wrong or right with the world.
For most of our lives, we have been told that retirement was a destination. So, we saved what we could, looking forward to the day that we could “let go” and “finally relax.” The hard truth is that very few of us are financially or psychologically prepared for retirement, in a traditional sense.
In fact, the majority of baby boomers say that they want to keep working beyond retirement age. This is not just a matter of money. It is also about maintaining our social connections, being productive and keeping our minds and bodies in shape.
With the average 65-year-old expected to live 20 years, there really is no choice but to rethink retirement.
Instead of collecting our gold watch and retiring to our porches, many of us will choose to adopt “semi-retirement” for as long as we can. This may involve reducing our hours or switching our work to areas in which we have an intrinsic interest. But, unless we are forced to leave the workforce entirely, most of us will choose to stay engaged.
Over the last several decades, we have seen major advances in healthcare, especially in countries like the United States. Unfortunately, many of these gains have been erased by our own inability to get disciplined and stay in shape.
Unlike previous generations, whose health after 60 was determined mostly by external factors, we are in control of our future. We can choose to sit in front of the TV, eating potato chips. Or, we can join a gym, do gentle yoga, get out into nature and take our diets seriously.
Honestly, this is one area that I struggle with. But, then I remind myself that, if Willie Murphy can become a professional weightlifter at age 77, I can make sure that I get my 10,000 steps in every day.
The world has changed a lot in just one or two generations. It’s time to replace yesterday’s perception that “getting older sucks” with “getting older is a choice.” The truth is that, more than at any other time in history, life after 60 is a choice. It’s up to us to find the happiness, health and financial security that we deserve.
What do you think is the best thing about getting older? What is the worst thing? Do you agree or disagree that, more than any time in the past, life after 60 is now a series of choices? Why or why not? Please join the conversation.
Tags Getting Older