Making Decisions: What to Do As One Ages

As I grow older and begin to think a bit about my retirement years, I sometimes ask myself whether I might do something — or stop doing it — once I retire. Usually this inner dialog focuses on the amount of money I am paying, leading me on to wonder whether I will even have the money for the activity once I retire.

At Virginia Mennonite Retirement, where my parents live, a wellness center offers exercise opportunities to residents and invites people from outside the VMRC community to join.

At Virginia Mennonite Retirement (VMRC), where my parents live, a wellness center/health club offers wide-ranging exercise opportunities to residents and also invites people of all ages  from outside the VMRC community to join.

A place that I visit regularly, sometimes as often as five or six times a week, is my health club, and this inner conversation occurs almost every time I sign in to exercise. Right now my employer shares the monthly cost of my time at the gym, and after more than twelve years I continue to take advantage of this benefit, exercising regularly.

When I do retire, I wonder, if I will be able to make up my employer’s contribution and continue working out at this club? Lately I’ve looked around the gym and noticed just how few older individuals are exercising — my club is a huge and well run metropolitan chain with many locations in my area. Now that I’ve read State of the Art Fitness: For Whom? — a recent post over at the Changing Aging blog — I am ruminating on the topic more and more.

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Some Retirees Are Starting Businesses

Those of us edging closer to retirement may be in for some surprises. We may discover that  some of our friends and colleagues are thinking less about taking it easy in their later years and more about  using the time to start a business.

starting businessesA Bloomberg Personal Finance article, Older Americans Shun Retirement at 65 for Risky Startups, by Steve Matthews, describes how many boomers are opting to become entrepreneurs, turning their ideas into companies, and working hard to make their business grow. Quoting from a report by the Kauffman Foundation Matthews notes that, “People from 55 to 64 started 23.4 percent of the [new] companies in 2012.” The Kauffman Foundation offers support and information to people who are seeking become more independent by educational achievement and entrepreneurial activities. (Kauffman mission).

Most Interesting Information from the Article            Continue reading

Nelson Mandela: Courage and Leadership in His Elder Years

Photo Credit: p_c_w via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: p_c_w via Compfight cc

I’ve been thinking quite a bit about Nelson Mandela over the past several days. Since he died last Friday (December 6, 2013), I’ve considered especially the moral courage he demonstrated during his 95 years as well as his ability to work with and lead others even as he aged into his elder (and elder, elder) years — times when most people think about quitting work.

Two interesting quotes from Bill Keller’s extensive New York Times Nelson Mandela obituary remind me that just like any other elder, he took steps to ensure his stamina and condition, attending to physical challenges of aging — while at the exact time he assumed extraordinary leadership responsibilities.                               Continue reading

A Better Old Age: U Mich Public Health Magazine Theme

findings home

Check out this magazine issue.

The other day when I picked up a copy of Findings, the alumni magazine of the University of Michigan School of Public Health, I discovered that the entire fall 2013  issue focuses on how to age well and improve old age. My husband is a Michigan alumnus, but the magazine is freely available as an easily downloadable and easy-to-read PDF file. The magazine is filled with information about retirement, aging, changes to expect, and ideas to make retirement fulfilling — useful for adult children and their aging parents.

This issue’s theme, A Better Old Age, addresses a range of topics including 15 Ideas for a Better Old Age, an article that examines future changes in the world of aging, and a special Guide to Thriving filled with interesting tips. In another article author Nicholas Delbanco shares thoughts on Lastingness: The Art of Old Age —  his 2011 book that examines artists who live long and productive lives into advanced elderhood. And 95-year-old retired but still active Michigan professor Robert Kahn discusses his principles of aging well, taken from his 1998 book Successful Aging. In another feature, To Retire or Not, Michigan School of Public Health professors who have retired share some of their thoughts about their new lives.            Continue reading

When to Start Social Security?

When we offer any kind of support to aging parents, we learn quite a bit about Social Security along the way. One thing we discover is information about the various retirement ages that qualify for benefit payments. If other adult children are anything like me, they begin to think about their retirement years ahead and just how Social Security fits into the picture.

social security payments

Visit the Social Security website to learn more about benefits.

The New York Times Your Money column published an article that addresses just these issues. In The Payoff in Waiting to Collect Social Security, columnist Tara Siegel Bernard explains how Social Security payments work and how they increase from year to year if a person is able to put off collecting retirement benefits from the program for even a few years. The November 15, 2013, column describes a typical couple considering when to apply for Social Security benefits and how they might benefit from delaying payments if they can afford to do so, quoting experts from the Boston College (BC) Center for Retirement Research, which happens also to publish The Social Security Claiming Guide, a booklet that walks readers detail-by-detail through the steps that retirees need to consider when the start thinking about when to apply for payments.

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Aging Boomers May be a Great Market

Check out Aging Boomers Seen as More of a Market than Burden, a January 1, 2013 article appearing in the Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel.

I've been thinking about starting a small business, and apparently I'm not alone!

I’ve been thinking about starting a small business, and apparently I’m not alone!

The article, by reporters Franco Ordonez and Casey Conley of McClatchy Newspapers, points out that, “… the 78 million boomers – born from 1946 to 1964 – have always broken the mold in terms of setting trends, and some investors and business and community leaders see their retirement as no different.”

While plenty of leaders and policy makers are moaning and groaning about the potential strain on the economy as boomers begin to use government benefits, few or these leaders seem to take into consideration the fact that boomers are working longer and in general reinventing themselves as well as the important parts of their lives — while the generation moves along. The article also points out that many venture capitalists are now asking new start-ups if they have developed an “over-fifty” plan for their businesses. Many seniors, as they retire, are even developing small businesses.

Best Quote

“It’s only in Washington that 100 million people are viewed as an unaffordable cost and financial burden,” said Jody Holtzman, a senior vice president at AARP. “In the private sector, 100 million people are called a market and an opportunity.”

  1. Check out the AARP Self Employment Page.
  2. Check out AARP 50+ entrepreneurs opportunities and resources article.