One Day Your Youth Will Fade, Be Happy About It.
It’s bound to be a wakeup call when you hear it for the first time: “Do you get the senior discount?”
Life is full of “ah ha” moments, some good, some not so good. One of the hardest occurs when you suddenly realize people perceive you as old, even if you feel 30 inside. Store clerks start calling you “sweetie,” or ask how you like retirement.
Ok, so you’re over 55. Big deal. Oprah’s in her 60s and dogged by would-be presidential narratives. You’re never too old to thrive, so let’s delete the pity party to the outbox where it belongs. The transition to older age celebrates the next phase of life, and it’s a beautiful thing. No one says you have to write five volumes on the meaning of love to be valued.
As we round the corner of our time here on earth, a more mature perspective arises: Letting go and doing your own thing is enough.
“I am greatly looking forward to the next phase in my life – retirement,” says Sandy Busch, a Pittsburgh-based graphic designer, and sexagenarian. “I want to do all the things I can’t find time for while working full time. And, for me, it’s taking classes and exploring my artsy side again that I’ve lost touch of.”
No more brow wringing
Busch, a mother of two grown sons, expects to retire in two to four years. While she enjoyed raising her boys, Busch says she’s happy those brow-wringing days ended. She can’t wait to enjoy “my life” again.
“I want to paint and quilt and take classes in jewelry making, pottery, watercolors and on and on,” Busch says. “And, I’m looking forward to traveling and seeing and experiencing more of the world. And, I’m looking forward to grandchildren someday.”
No one else’s meeting maker
The next phase, Busch says, will be about doing what she wants to do, when she wants to, and not having to rush because she needs to get to work. People talk about winning the rat race, sometimes forgetting that even if you place, you’re still a rat.
“Transitioning for me is planning for this new phase – getting the finances in order, talking to a professional retirement planner about whether or not I can afford to retire and when would be the best time,” Busch says. Other issues include researching where she would like to live and how much of a profit she could make on her current home.
“I’m a planner, always have been,” Busch says. “I don’t like surprises. So planning for the future is how I see these transition years going.”
What is “old?”
You hear people say, “60 is the new 40,” “70 is the new 50.” If there really is a new longevity index, it begs the question, what is “old” nowadays?
Research suggests the threshold for advancing beyond middle age has increased from 44 in the 1920s to 60 today, according to Stanford economics professor John Shoven as cited in Money Watch online (June 29, 2017) By this new standard, “very old” is 80, not 67.
Oddly, Money Watch says t
oo many people bog down with concerns and says folks should resist shooting problems to the moon. “While we should be dancing in celebration of our longer and healthier lives, instead we’re wringing our hands over challenges.” (Money Watch).
Easing the transition
The final quarter of life should be enjoyed, not plagued with worry. To help folks transition, Healthable blog writer Karleia Steiner assembled five key ways to ease the process.
Ramp up your health care
Moving past 55 or 60 means you should focus on preventive medicine by scheduling at least two checkups a year and not skipping dentist and vision appointments. Catching medical issues early prevents major problems later. It doesn’t mean you have to google “three signs of a fatty liver” or “carbs that cause weight gain” every other day. It’s about sensibility.
Find two hobbies
The first hobby should stimulate the mind, such as learning to play an instrument or mastering a new skill such as model making. Healthable argues for a fitness-based second hobby such as hiking for three hours a week.
Consider new living options earlier rather than later
Finding the right retirement living arrangement while you’re still fit minimizes problems as you become infirm.
Settle legal matters
No one wants to leave their heirs scrambling or embroiled in an estate dispute. Update your will and hire a financial adviser.
Ask for help
After years of self-reliance, many people become prideful and don’t want to reach out. Struggling with medical or financial issues makes the transition more difficult.
Accepting Physical Decline
Overcoming or learning to accept a physical decline is one of the hardest aspects of aging. Fatigue and difficulty with once-routine tasks such as yard work can affect self-esteem. Other people feel like they’re becoming forgetful and fear the onset of dementia.
The best way to fight the aging process is to keep the body and mind as active as possible, according to Talking About Men’s Health.
Maintaining a high level of physical activity improves heart health, muscle mass, and flexibility. “All of these factors can contribute to a healthy body – one that may be able to prevent the physical side of aging from taking root too quickly,” Talking About Men’s Health reports.
Likewise, “individuals can keep their minds sharp by engaging in critical thinking and memory-building activities. Word games, Sudoku, and other puzzles allow the mind to focus and exercise its metaphorical muscles, thereby keeping mental faculties as strong as possible,” Men’s Health says.
If you plot busyness across the life cycle, the fourth quarter typically affords the most free time. Maintaining friendships and developing new ones helps people achieve happiness, according to The Atlantic author Julie Beck. Her article “How Friendships Change in Adulthood” (Oct. 22, 2015) says spending time with close friends and family combats loneliness.
Social media offers seniors connection; they don’t feel alone. This is especially true for those who lost a spouse. And the positive thing about friendship is friends are friends because they want to be, not because they’re in the same family and have to get along.
“Survey upon survey upon survey shows how important people’s friends are to their happiness,” Beck says.
If you’re in the retirement zone, consider a job for its purpose. Many retirees, even college professors, accept positions in hardware stores, community libraries or at the church for the sake of experience or to enjoy other people. Some start a business.
“Many retirees work for personal fulfillment – to stay mentally and physically active, to enjoy the social benefits of working or to try their hand a something news,” says the website Retirement Jobs, which focuses on employment for people 50 and older.
The bottom line for those entering older age is the transition doesn’t have to be about the fear of mortality or be approached as “the beginning of the end.” By shedding past baggage and identify future goals, our older years can be a happy new beginning.
Upside of Downsizing exists to promote the positive aspects of aging and provide valuable resources and connections. Contact: https://upsideofdownsizing.com/