When my parents were 65, I considered them “old”. They were proud and happy to call themselves Senior Citizens. They believed that title carried a certain amount of “I’ve done my part, and it’s time for someone else to work.” They stopped working, and through physical and mental challenges became the average retiree that watched 49 hours of television a week. I asked myself, “Is this all there is?” Don’t misunderstand, I like television. Yes, I said it. With all its ridiculous programs and insane commercials, I still enjoy coming home from work, cooking dinner, cleaning up, and watching TV before bedtime. Don’t shoot me. Some of you do the exact same thing. But what can we do so that we are not “old” when we are 65 (or beyond)? I am talking about mentally and physically “old”.
In his book, Age Wave, author Ken Dychtwald questioned, “Why in the world we don’t start thinking about the whole life process when we’re younger, when there’s still so much time to shape a healthy, productive future. I was convinced that if during youth and middle age we could instill in our lives a sense of how to create a meaningful, rich, and active old age, we would have a higher likelihood of actually achieving it.”
What if I didn’t start in my youth? What if I am a 62 year old grandmother with a “desk job”, looking to improve myself mentally and physically to not only survive the potential decades ahead, but to thrive?
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of opportunities to become involved in your community, family, church, and social circle. It does, however, require one thing, BRAVERY. We must be willing to go into a new situation alone. We must be willing to ask for help and call a friend and ask them to go with us. We must be willing to step out of the comfort zone of our couch.
Consider joining a book club, Bible study, lecture at the library, class at IVTC, ISU, St. Mary of the Woods or Rose Hulman. Join a card club, dominos, or craft group. Volunteer at a local elementary, middle, or high school. Help at a nursing home or senior center. Spend time with friends and family. Don’t let too much time pass between kisses and hugs.
As a generation, baby boomers know that we have been blessed. Do we have the guts and wisdom to step up and set the proper course of corrections in motion? At this time of year, many of us are resetting our goals and aspirations, looking at New Year’s Resolutions, and taking stock of our lives. Maybe this is the year that we explode with new vigor and share a deeper commitment with those around us. If you are retired, about to retire, or just putting the baby to bed, you have this very moment to excel. Use it wisely.
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