Sixty years of age is a key milestone for the baby boomer generation. Some say sixty is the new forty with all the advancements in medicine and health consciousness. The fact is, people today are living longer and enjoying a higher standard of living and better health than did their parents and grandparents. According to the 2010 statistics published in The State of Aging and Health in America by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the average life expectancy for American citizens has increased to 78.5 years old.
Since people are living longer, the years from age 60-80 have become a very important period in the lives of senior citizens. These are the retirement years. This demographic has fewer career and family responsibilities than other age groups, plus more money and powerful spending potential from investments, and large equities in their homes. They know what activities are fulfilling and have the spare time to learn and do new things. Rather than stay home and watch soap operas, many seniors are now starting new financial enterprises and activities such as stock trading, golf, travel, running a new home based business, volunteering, working in their church, participating in community groups and committees, sports, or joining new social circles such as dance groups, card clubs, fraternal organizations, and country clubs. For those who want to reinvent their life, all of these activities and interests are proving that this period of life can be very fruitful, productive, and fulfilling.
Retirement is different for every individual according to their personal situation and when they plan to retire. For many, a lot depends on their social security income and when they elect to receive benefits. The monthly benefit amount varies according to when a person retires. For seniors born during 1943 – 1954, the full retirement age is 66. Some will choose to retire as early as age 62, providing they meet the 40 minimum earned credit requirement, and their benefit amount will be reduced depending on how many months they receive benefits before they reach full retirement age.
Conversely, there are those who plan to delay retirement and work up to age 70, or longer, in order to draw an increased monthly benefit. Those working past age 66 and born during 1941 – 1942, will receive a 7.5% increase, while those born in 1943, or later, will receive an 8% increase up to age 70.
For many seniors, plans for an early retirement went down the drain along with the equities in their homes when the economy slipped into recession and many people lost their retirement nest eggs. Those not forced to extend their career will no doubt retire, however, those who must work until age 70, or longer, will be forced to reinvent themselves, like it or not. Here are some basic guidelines to help those who will have to experience the ordeal of change during their peak retirement years.
Before you can reinvent yourself, however, you need to take an inventory to see where you are now and determine where you want or need to be. This self-evaluation should include as many aspects of your body, mind, and spirit as you can identify. You need to examine your present belief system and determine your values, your ethics, your morals, and your attitude. One of the primary things you need to evaluate is your ability to change and how you handle stress and new circumstances. You will find that there are some things you can change while there are others that you cannot. It is not true that an old dog cannot be taught new tricks. Just because you are sixty or older doesn’t mean you are set in your ways and cannot adapt.
Remember, nothing changes if you change nothing, or cannot change, so for those who are motivated to alter their present lifestyle and situation; here are some suggestions to help you plan your own metamorphosis and get the ball rolling. Change begins with taking the first step and with baby steps thereafter. Change need not be so dramatic and stressful, or traumatic, but rather it can be a very pleasant experience composed of curiosity, discovery, experimentation, and acceptance; resulting in increased self-esteem, pride, and a new feeling of self-worth and renewal.
Reinvent Yourself Socially –
- Get involved with others. Meet new friends. Join clubs, committees, and online dating services to maintain communication and interaction with people with common interests.
- Do more things together with your spouse… take dance lessons, attend a pottery class, play bridge, go swimming, join a health club or country club, golf, browse thrift shops and book stores, watch videos, etc.
- Do more things with your children or grandchildren… attend their functions, help with homework, teach them a craft, go to the zoo or a ball game, bake cookies, tell stories, or go shopping together.
- Volunteer at your church or fraternal organization. Organizations always need organizers and workers and directors. Attend regular city council or town hall meetings and get involved in your community. You can also become a companion to shut-in seniors in nursing homes or visit patients in the hospital. Local government always needs volunteers for voter registration, jury duty, planning committees, advisory boards, and similar positions.
- Get a cell phone. It doesn’t have to cost much. You can use a pre-paid minute phone and learn to text message on it. Texting will keep your fingers nimble and your mind sharp. Just don’t text message while you drive.
- Get a laptop computer and get on the Internet. Join one, or several, social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, or any forum that interests you. Surfing the web is a great way to improve your social skills and to stay informed and connected with current events.
- Host more dinner parties, barbeques, or get-togethers with friends, neighbors, family, suppliers, customers, and coworkers.
- Join a network marketing business and attend meetings and recruit new members.
Reinvent Yourself Mentally –
- Take personality tests in books and online to find your personality type, temperament and preferences
- Join luminosity.com and participate in their program daily.
- Play mentally challenging games such as chess, bridge, poker, Sudoku, Mahjong solitaire, and cross-word puzzles.
- Attend lectures and take personal development classes at a community college or monitor any classes on subjects you are interested in. For example, if you are an art lover, consider taking a primer on Art History. If you have artistic skills, consider taking a drawing or painting class. Learn a new language for an upcoming vacation trip, or just for the sake of challenging your ability to speak a new tongue. Many people devote much of their lives to raising children, building careers, or both, and never took the time to learn new things, so now is a good time to learn something new.
- Read more and watch less television. Write your autobiography or articles on various subjects that pique your interest. Learn to speed read. Try to read at least one book a week. If you don’t have the spare time, then subscribe to an audio book club and listen to at least four books per month to stay informed.
- Start a new hobby or expand an existing one. Collect rocks, stamps, coins, or go bird watching; whatever brings you joy and satisfaction. Make a little hobby area where you can make candles, do pottery, grow plants or bonsai trees. Learn to paint landscapes or portraits. Learn to knit or crochet or perhaps you want to finally restore that old car out in the garage.
Reinvent Yourself Physically –
- If you want to reinvent yourself quickly and effectively, stop smoking, stop drinking alcohol, eat less red meat, eat more vegetables, stop eating fast foods, take vitamins, and exercise more. It’s the same advice your doctor and mother probably gave you in high school and just think if you’d followed it back then, where would you be now? I know you didn’t want to hear this again, but it was true then and its true now.
- Join an athletic club if you’re looking for moderate activity with some social aspect, or join a walking group, or start one with your neighbors. Keeping fit and active is vital to make the most of the years after 60. Play tennis, racquet ball, or ping-pong with friends, or join a team sports league for bowling, volleyball, soft ball, or some similar sport designed for senior adults. The exercise will keep your energy up and the interaction with other participants will enhance your social life.
- If you are on a tight budget, get more aerobic exercise any way you can. Walk, swim, ride a bicycle, or climb a hill at least three to four times per week. Increase your heart rate up to training levels lasting for twenty minute durations. Do something to work up a sweat. If you are overweight, then try to exercise at least three times a week for a minimum of twenty minutes each time to increase your metabolism and burn more calories. Cardio exercise is recommended, but check with your doctor first. Compute your body mass index (BMI) and follow guidelines for your ideal height-weight ratio. If you cannot be active, then try yoga or tai chi or chi gong exercises which will strengthen and stretch your muscles, improve your breathing, balance, and coordination.
- Pay more attention to your diet and eat less. Stay within the recommended calories per day for your body and try to maintain your proper weight in proportion to your height. Your diet should contain fewer simple carbohydrates and more vegetables and fruits. Avoid fast food, sugar, salt, candy and try to eat more green salads. Try juicing and eating more dinners with less red meat. Fasting one day a week is also highly recommended.
- Take food supplements and vitamins. Visit your health food store and start reading more information about your health. You should take a multi-vitamin supplement daily at the very least, but you can also custom design whole cocktails of supplements to accentuate and support desired conditions and specific areas such as memory function, eye sight, digestion, diabetes, stress, sleep, heart, liver, and colon cleanse.
- Determine your body and blood type and follow the recommendations for your category. Check your blood pressure and pulse daily
- See a medical professional for exams; at least twice a year, and have a complete blood work performed at least once a year. A complete annual physical exam should include monitoring blood pressure, temperature, blood oxygen, peripheral circulation, weight, listening to your heart, examining your body for lumps, moles, lesions, abrasions, bruises, and examining your mouth, ears, nose, throat, feet, and genitalia. Women should receive a pap smear and men should have their prostate gland examined and a hernia exam.
- See your dentist at least twice a year, or if you have dentures, schedule an annual exam to ensure your dentures fit properly and your mouth is not changing which could result in discomfort or sores later on.
- Develop an active lifestyle… which may include boating, hunting, fishing, skiing, jogging, bicycling, and similar activities if you are able.
- Get adequate rest; at least seven hours of sleep is recommended with a twenty minute long nap after lunch. As people age, they tend to need less sleep, but don’t become a night owl and stay up late. If you snore, ask your doctor about the potential for sleep apnea and follow his advice. If you find yourself sleeping a lot, especially during the day, or experience fatigue with wide spread flu-like pain, then ask your doctor about anemia and fibromyalgia. Don’t sleep your life away.
Reinvent Yourself Spiritually –
- Attend your church, temple, or religious group regularly. Spiritual growth enriches life and gives hope and support for difficulties that arise as you age. You may wish to join yoga or a tai chi group in your community or attend Bible studies or even make a pilgrimage to some city or country that you have wanted to visit all your life.
- Volunteer at public organizations, religious functions, food banks, free clinics, blood donation centers, parks and recreation departments, and local animal shelters so you can give back to your community by donating your time. Volunteer for an organization or cause that you truly care about. If you have loved animals all your life, then volunteer to walk dogs, socialize cats or organize fundraising events for your local shelter. If you have previously supported development projects in other parts of the world, contact the organization and ask if you are able to volunteer your time in your community as well. No matter what you do, reinventing your life after 60 should be about making your life the one you want to live. You only go around once, so make it count, and do it your way.
Reinvent Yourself Emotionally –
- Change your diet so that you consume less alcohol, less fat, and eat more foods that support serotonin and dopamine production in the brain.
- Fight bouts of depression and seasonal affective disorder (SAD) with SAMe and herbal supplements and exercise.
- Find someone or a pet to love. Love is the best medicine for almost any problem and you can never get or give too much of it.
- Laugh daily. Surround yourself with positive people who cause you to laugh and maintain a positive attitude despite difficult situations. Watch comedies more often and find funny and interesting videos on YouTube.com and similar web sites. Read funny stories, jokes, and watch uplifting and inspiring television programs.
- Don’t live alone. If you can’t live with family or friends, find a roommate so that you always have someone who can look in on you and keep you engaged. Loneliness breeds fear, solitude, depression, and withdrawal.
- Join a senior center for regular companionship and scheduled activities such as potluck dinners, bingo, card games, and music entertainment.
- Visit family members often and call them all on a regular basis just to stay in touch. Remember birthdays with a card or gift and try to attend all holiday dinners and traditional get-togethers.
- Nothing improves your self-esteem better than changing your wardrobe. If you have always wore blue jeans, then buy some nice slacks. If your old shoes have seen better days, then buy a nice new pair of shoes. Try wearing a suit around once a week; that will perk you up. When you look good, you feel good.
Reinvent Yourself Financially –
- These are hard times. If the economy has robbed you of your nest egg and forced you into austere circumstances, then you may have to swallow your pride and apply for public assistance. With high unemployment, you may have no choice. You have to eat. Contact your local food bank, Health and Welfare office, and any free medical clinics for assistance. Do what you have to do to get by until things improve. Make the smart move. Do the right thing. This is a temporary economic condition that will pass.
- Instead of retiring early, or at the regular age; work longer and your monthly social security benefit will increase when you do finally retire.
- If you lost your life savings when the “too large to fail” banks collapsed, then you may be reluctant to save or invest. However, making safe investments is still one of the best ways to increase your net worth. Consider safe growth stocks.
- Day trading and saving your money in a bank are not good ideas. Consider buying tax deed certificates (paper trading) from county governments which yield high interest rates.
- Finding employment that pays a realistic living wage is tough these days. You may have to return to school and retrain in a new occupation or field. For example, there are many loggers and construction workers who have switched to become insurance salesman, truck drivers, welders, CADD drafters, project managers, inspectors, and similar alternative occupations when their industries collapsed during the recession. Search online and find the best source for your training and secure a loan, or pay as you go, in order to acquire the knowledge necessary to change careers. It will be worth it.
- Consider moving to a new city if you can’t find work in your community. If you have always wanted to live in a different location, take the opportunity to do it after 60. If you want to test out living in a new town without committing long-term, sublet an apartment or room for a couple of months. Check with the Chamber of Commerce and Senior Centers for recommendations. If your children have already relocated to another city, try to visit them and check out the area before you commit to a permanent relocation. If you don’t want to change cities, but do want to see more of the U.S., consider using a recreational vehicle for part of the year. You can live in RV parks and stay in new locations in comfort, providing the weather and fuel prices cooperate.
- If you are inclined to gamble, then trading in binary options online promises higher gains in a short period of time with a potential of earning thousands of dollars monthly from the comfort of your home.
- Start an online affiliate business. Create a web site with affiliate links that point to major league suppliers like Amazon.com and ClickBank.com, and drive traffic to that site to earn sales commissions. There is a learning curve involved, but the dividends are well worth it.
- Turn your hobby into a small business operation. If you enjoy making things, you can sell your crafts on eBay, in local auctions, craft fairs, at garage sales, and at farmer’s markets. Make your venture low-risk and stay focused on something you like doing, regardless if sales are adequate or consistent. Reinvest some of your profits back into the business to grow and earn more income. Don’t forget to take all your tax deductions.
by Dave Salois