Commentary by Lorene Burkhart
As our population ages and the number of people reaching their 80th birthdays and beyond continues to climb, we find ourselves faced with new challenges and what to do with these old geezers.
I moved into my retirement community just before my 80th birthday, not because I considered myself to be old, but because I was ready for the exciting challenges yet to come. OK, so most of my fellow residents aren’t quite as gung ho as I am.
What I’m observing is a struggle for many who are in good health and have their mental faculties to find a purpose for their lives. All of their previous life responsibilities have been removed (cooking, cleaning, driving, planning their time) in their new “stress free” environment. It may sound good while you’re still living a stressful life, but living it is another thing.
Planning for your “last phase” of life is handled by lawyers, financial planners and physicians, but who is helping the “in betweens” (after retirement, but before age 80) plan for a purpose?
When I hear the not-yet-retired say they can’t wait until they can just enjoy life (golf, travel, etc.), I watch them tire of it quickly.
I admire people who begin their transition from work life to retirement when they are still working. Recently, I enjoyed a presentation by a photographer who is now in his early 70s. He began developing his interest in photography while he was still in his executive position at a large company. He and his wife now travel around the world while he photographs animals, birds and sports events. He glows while he shows and shares his wonderful pictures, telling his audience about the locale and why the picture is relevant. He has a purpose and he enjoys life.