By MaryBeth Kane
The fact is we are living longer as a population globally. The question becomes, how do we age actively and healthfully? There are many myths and stereotypes about human aging and what the experience will look like for those transitioning to the golden years, also called the “Third Age” of senior adulthood. Experts predict that baby boomers will shatter the negative myths by disrupting the process of aging in some unexpected ways indicative of a bold new era for seniors.
The term “golden year” was first coined in the late 1950s in a large-scale retirement community advertisement. It was meant to dispel the myth that the years would only consist of loneliness and declining health. Today, a greater number of seniors are physically and mentally stronger, and more financially prepared, which allows them to live vibrant, engaged and active lives and enjoy their newfound freedom. This disruption means there is no set pattern, sequence of events, or progression of steps for navigating what contemporary retirement looks like.
AARP CEO and author of “Disrupt Aging,” Jo Ann Jenkins says, “Fifty is the new 50! It’s not about aging or adding years to the end of our lives – it’s about living. And creating a bold new path to living your best life.”
Because many chronic health issues faced during this life phase are linked to lifestyle choices, boomers are often taking control and managing these choices with wisdom and with healthy longevity in mind. When we think about the positive aspects of entering this phase of life, there are many.
- Purpose-centered Living: On average, older adults are more satisfied with their lives than either middle or young adults. They are more intentional about choices that bring fulfillment and purpose.
- Emotional Health: Older adults self-report the same levels of emotional intensity as younger adults but with more complexity and poignancy. They are more introspective and have the time and wisdom to care for their own emotional well-being.
- Defined Identity: Although highly personalized and subject to cultural influences, personal identity generally becomes more favorable across one’s lifespan. Seniors have the unique vantage point of being able to identify who they have become over decades and many life circumstances and are generally pleased.
The “Wall Street Journal” named Dr. Bill Thomas, geriatrics physician, professor, and entrepreneur, one of the nation’s “top 10 innovators.” Dr. Thomas, who is working to change the future of retirement in America, says: “What we need is a radical reinterpretation of longevity that makes elders (and their needs) central to our collective pursuit of happiness and well-being.”
Overall, boomers are living a more connected life than past generations. They are thriving and disrupting conventional views of aging and old myths of pending gloom and doom by being more conscious of their health. They are taking control of the aspects of aging within their power to manage, having a more positive outlook on the years to come, and better preparing themselves mentally, physically and financially. More importantly, they are choosing their own path to senior living and disrupting perceived narratives about aging along the way.
Mary Beth is a Senior Care Counselor for the Arbor Company and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org