Whatever you choose to call today’s 65+-year-old population – boomers, seniors, elders – you can be certain that as a demographic, they are not content to rest on their laurels and await the inevitable. No, today’s mature adults are rapidly redefining the concept of aging and crushing the traditional view of retirement.
Consider the many conferences hosted by organizations such as the American Society on Aging and the International Council on Active Aging that are bringing multidisciplinary companies together to better understand and support this vast segment of the population.
The medical field is scrambling to provide enough physicians, specialists and facilities to accommodate the residual effects of extended longevity. And developers are even creating exclusive towns for the ever-growing, active and engaged senior population.
Two examples of such self-contained retirement towns are The Villages in Florida and St. James Plantation in North Carolina. In addition to a plethora of clubs and activities, these communities boast their own stores, restaurants, entertainment venues, post offices, emergency services and more.
They’re a far cry from the retirement home settings of twenty years ago and based on the numbers of boomers flocking to live there, they represent the thriving, peer-based lifestyle that growing numbers of seniors seek today.
What’s Important to Today’s Seniors
Although baby boomers share some of the same concerns as previous generations (such as wealth management and maintaining their health), they tend to enjoy longer life spans and a greater overall quality of life. This enables today’s seniors to remain productive and engaged members of society while also continuing to pursue their goals and dreams. As a result, they now more than ever tend to focus on travel, lifelong learning opportunities, social activities, encore careers and volunteer efforts.
In fact, a recent MarketWatch article shared that “[r]oughly a third of Americans 50 and older (31%) are actively engaged in purposeful activities that contribute to the greater good.” Of those not currently involved in purposeful activities, many responded, “If somebody would ask me to get involved, I would.”
As Helen Dennis, a retirement consultant, stated in the article, “[This] is great news. It speaks to the resilience of older age and blows myths we have of older adults and their inevitable decline right out the window.”
Seniors Who Aspire and Inspire
These active and engaged seniors—whom I refer to as the Silver Wave—fascinate and inspire me. I’m continually amazed at all they’ve overcome in life, how they’ve achieved success at both work and home, and how they continue to pursue their dreams. There’s so much to be learned from them and they have so much to offer, both personally and professionally.
It was for this reason that I created my business, Lasting Legacies. As a ghostwriter and commissioned biographer, I interview and then write the life stories of these individuals, as well as assist those who wish to write their stories themselves.
Each of my clients has broken the traditional stereotype of aging. Even those who have not been in good health have defied the notion of sitting back and letting life merely pass them by. Rather, they have taken advantage of the opportunities in front of them while also sharing their vast wealth of knowledge and experience, as well as their values and beliefs, with future generations.
Similarly, the Growing Bolder media outlet shares “stories of ordinary people living extraordinary lives.” Former news anchor Marc Middleton created the company when he became disenchanted with market research practices that disregarded the opinions of respondents over the age of 55, despite the fact that the average television viewer’s age is 57.
Since then, he and his team have grown Growing Bolder into an organization that offers a website, television program, radio show and traditional magazine in order to help people “stop growing older and start growing bolder.”
Like Mr. Middleton, I believe that we can best combat ageism (the negative stereotypes and limitations placed on boomers and beyond) by highlighting seniors’ wealth of wisdom and accomplishments, one story at a time. Everyone has a story worth sharing. What’s yours?
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