New Old Age So you do not want to grow old as your grandparents did. You may not even want to follow the footsteps of your parents. That's OK.
How we age, how we live as we move into our 60's, 70's, 89s and 90s is pretty much up to us. The years after child raising and full time work can be among our BEST. True we need to pay attention to our health and have enough income so we are not worried about money all the time is important. (There are pages on this web site that address both these issues - just look for them in the yellow navigation bar.)
But what is this thing called the NEW OLD AGE?
In the industrialized world there was this myth that life after full time work had little purpose, that it was a time of physical and mental decline and that the old were rather useless people, consuming resources...waiting for death. Now this 'myth about aging' ever fit reality. Most of us knew at least one special old person while we were growing up. And today with better health care and electronic advances the years after age 55 can be as full and vibrant as we wish to make them. That is what the New Old Age is all about - creating and living in ways we find meaningful.
Today adults in much of the developed world can look forward to at least 20-40 active years after they turn 50. The number of centenarians is increasing. (Walter Bortz II, who is a leading expert in the field of Aging believes that 100 is becoming the new 'normal lifespan'.) And studies show that most centenarians live involved and fruitful lives.
Advances in health care and technology are making it easier to remain active and engaged. So the New Old Age is already 'out there'. The key for us is to develop a personal vision and put it into practice so we can live our own 'elder years' with zest and meaning.
Of course it helps if we have good health and enough money. But although these would be helpful, they are not necessary. Stephen Hawking, Fellow of The Royal Society and Member of the US National Academy of Sciences demonstrates that attitude of mind is far more important than the condition of our body. And attitude of mind is what made it possible for some people to weather even the Great Depression or the scarcities in Europe during and after WWII. Few of us will be reduced to the hardest of circumstances. But in any case, we are not there now.
So what do we need to be doing to live with zest and meaning into our elder years?
Travel, the arts, new hobbies are big items as is 'giving back' through volunteering. What you need to do is reach down inside yourself and ask what is your real desire? what has laid dormant or unfulfilled?
Then just do it Start. You will be amazed at how unexpected doors open, how you will find a path into your future.
If you read Dan Buettner's book The Blue Zones you know that Elderhood is central in all those cultures where people live the longest. Now lengthening lifespans in the developed world is bringing the concept of Elderhood to the fore. Few modern psychologists talk about Elderhood. (Although Erikson did. He offers some reflections about an 8th stage of human development.) But that is what we are about, living a new and vibrant way as we age.
There ARE role models for this new stage of life. Some societies have developed a third stage of human life: Elderhood. It is something that you will want to read about if you are interested in THE NEW OLD AGE. Click here to learn more about New Old Age and Elderhood: the 'Crown' of human development.
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