When we speak of Longevity, are we not generally directing our message to the mature adult, the older demographic? In present times we often refer to them as baby boomers; I’ve begun referring to this demographic as the AARP generation. For the most part, at this stage of life we’ve raised our families, are situated in our work life and begin to look towards the horizon for our remaining years.
Many of us become more conscious of our wellbeing at this point in life and adopt lifestyle changes that we are told will have a positive effect on our overall health and wellbeing. Those changes are most notably in the foods we eat, our weight, and exercise regime, so we can continue aging as healthy as possible. We may also take extra measures to engage in activities that will ensure our brain health. However, it is critically important that greater emphasis be placed on adopting a wellness lifestyle from our early years continuing across our life span.
At this stage we may also be looking towards our retirement.
The definition of retirement as it applies to the work force simply means the “act or fact of leaving one’s job and ceasing to work.” However, definitions from other contexts use the word withdrawal or seclusion. (“the withdrawal of a jury from the courtroom to decide their verdict”; “a secluded or private place.” A Forbes 2017 article though a more appropriate word would be “retirements” which it described as a “functional shift that replaces everything” one implying transition. It seems that any word incorporating “retire” as the root should be avoided. Exiting, transitioning, embarking, graduating, all convey movement to another stage, level, or act of life. That is because the notion of retirement in and of itself becomes a kind of life’s destination point. But the truth is according to the Kauffman Index report for Startup Activity the highest rate of entrepreneurial activity in the U.S. is among those 55 to 64 years,” That’s been the case for the past 15 years, and there have been studies that tell us that people who did not like retirement were three times more likely to be entrepreneurs and small business builders than young people. Therefore, because in using the word retire, we would then be implying retiring from life. This could not be further from the truth as we should refrain from using that word whenever possible. It seems that any word incorporating “retire” as the root should be avoided in favor of exiting, transitioning, embarking, graduating, all convey movement to another stage, level, or act of life. (i.e., as in the third act)
Essentially, the present societal view is that people are valued wherever they are along the age spectrum until they hit the benchmark of retirement age. It’s at that juncture their value changes along with their dignity, respect, rights, and all things they are entitled to up to that point.
I along with others embraced the concept that older adults are our future selves. However, more recently I concluded that that notion is too far in the distance, a future we cannot and often don’t want to imagine.
I ask you to play along with me here. Take a moment and close your eyes. Imagine where you might be in five, ten or fifteen years from now. Do you imagine the place, the surroundings, the people you’d like to be living amongst? Do you see yourself as an older version of yourself in that picture? I know I don’t. This is something we most likely want to avoid at all costs, especially as it may reflect on our declining physical ability, independence, cognitive ability or medical condition.
Society plays a tremendous role in our view of ourselves. Despite depicting older adults in various activities and venues both in print advertising and on-air commercials, somehow there is still the notion that cosmetic fillers and injections are the panacea solution for wrinkles and hair dyes that remedy to camouflage gray hair both of which are to be avoided. In continuing to emphasize the desire to look and feel young, it reinforces the idolatry of looking and feeling younger and of youth in general.
What if we can empower young people to embrace longevity? It may seem a counterintuitive thought since youth’s main priority is youth. But if we ask a younger adult if they prefer to think about their mortality or an early demise as opposed to a longer life, my hunch is the response would be long life.
Therefore, what’s involved in inspiring younger adults to view older adults in a different way and embrace the longevity that goes along with reaching the milestone of an advanced age?
What would that look like and how could we inspire them to embrace longevity?
I along with others embraced the concept that older adults are our future selves. However, more recently I concluded that that notion is too far in the distance, a future we cannot and often don’t want to imagine, especially as it may reflect on our declining physical ability and independence, cognitive ability and medical condition. We may imagine our future, but do not picture ourselves as an older person in it. We would like to avoid it at all costs, and despite depicting older adults in various activities and venues in print advertising and on-air commercials, somehow there is still the notion that cosmetic fillers and injections are the panacea solution for wrinkles and gray hair which is to be avoided at all costs.