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Who says life begins (or ends) at 40? Old age nowadays is a far cry from the old age of even three decades ago. No longer content to be partner-less or relegated to the old folks home by the age of 75, men and women are finding comfort in remarriage, moving to new homes or even to new countries. Suddenly the twilight of their lives is changing into new beginnings and sunset becomes sunrise, as long as they want it that way.
Spending the holidays with family sees us surrounded by many generations and for me, it’s fantastic to see the old people I know so full of life and energy. While some grandmothers and grandfathers still seem rather fragile (and many really are), so many more these days are working, are engrossed in volunteerism and/or are immersed in hobbies, groups and organizations. They have lives choc-a-bloc with things to do, ambitions to chase and people to talk with. As all of us get older, it’s good to see what the last half of our lives can bring and the exciting changes ahead.
The New Year brings changes (or at least the idea of them) to many of us. For the younger set, it’s engagements, new homes, new lifestyles or jobs. But for seniors, it’s often the same deal nowadays, as people live and work longer and are not content to sit back and watch the world go by. Retirees are getting jobs; some through necessity and others because they want to remain vital and needed in a fast world. Statistically, retirement has often meant death within several years. Somehow, for many of us, our need to contribute to the world is diminished (particularly in the case of men who were conditioned to believe that their work translated into their worth) and death often comes calling once the daily routine of hard work and play is over. There are also many more avenues for older people to explore – working or volunteering either physically or over the Internet. It seems everyone is needed these days, and putting older people out to pasture is not accepted – particularly by the older set themselves. And thank goodness for that. Older Americans are at the forefront of everything from tea party politics to organizing groups, societies, hobby groups and unions.