THE BLOG

Aging and (Dying): Dilemma or Possibility?

05/01/2015 06:29 pm ET | Updated May 01, 2016

Surprise, Boomers

You are in for the greatest years of your life.

Not hope, not hype, not pretense: fact.

For the first time in human history (at least our human history outside of tribes) our older/oldest people will have the most:

• Money.
• Influence.
• Networks.
• Education.
• Health and well-being.
• Accomplishments.
• Global Awareness.
• Supportive tools and technology (when used well).

Neilsen, "the media maven," reports that if The United States baby boomers (over 50) were a separate nation, it would constitute the third largest economy in the world (after The U.S. and China).

Dr. Christiane Northrup makes it clear how we view aging itself is also decisive. In her study (see her PBS special on aging) she references 80+ year olds who temporarily resided in Hollywood-like mock ups of '50s villages ( the '50s was when they were youngsters) with all the paraphernalia, equipment and icons of that age like black and white TV's; soda fountains; older cars; buildings, etc. After a few weeks, their cognitive and physical functions improved (muscle strength/muscle mass/fitness) substantially -- by "tricking" their body/minds into thinking they are young again.

Similarly, in a second study, when two groups were held constant for health risk factors such as obesity, cholesterol and sedentary lifestyle -- and the only differentiating factor was how they viewed the aging process itself, either positive or negatively -- the group that viewed aging positively as an opportunity, a possibility, even as an adventure, outlived the other group by 5+ years!

In a study in the Wall Street Journal (Our Amazingly Plastic Brains, 2/06/15), medical experts report that (only) 15 percent of us will have dementia, and of that group, there is a 60 percent reduction in dementia for people who follow simple routines, like running (exercise), eating live foods, I glass of wine a day, etc. Meaning: 90 percent of us can live without it! Having cognitive ability vs. disability thereby alters the later stages of aging.

Mark Freedman of Encore.org, awards The Purpose Prize of $100,000.00 each year to the person over 60 who makes a career shift that most makes a difference to the larger community -- in the world. Mike Bloomberg won it for shifting from media (private sector) to becoming Mayor (community-public sector). Mark Goldsmith, Executive Director of Getting Out, Staying Out won it for going from being a happy, white haired Jewish cosmetics executive to a passionate super-effective leader in the criminal justice system, specifically, re-entry. GOSO knocks the literal hide off the ball -- it reduces 3 year recidivism for 10-24 year old men at Rikers Island

Correctional facility in (N.Y.C.) from an average in that facility of up to 60 percent + to near 10 percent -- with 3,000 men over 10 years!

Realize: Our parents -- the greatest generation -- did in fact live much longer than prior generations. But they almost had to pinch themselves each day, surprised they could actually be -- in fact -- alive as long as they did. They were the first ones to live so long and yet, they didn't fully anticipate it/count on it in the way we do.

We Boomers, however, see it coming.

We know that age has, for most of us, a long runway.

We know it's coming.

If you make it to 65, in this era, in America, 85-90 is very likely.

If we honor that possibility of being engaged, adventurous, active, and managing our "piece" (our body) well -- we can learn, teach, mentor, start businesses, teach, play, work out, travel, have sex, eat, laugh, inspire, engage, write, build, lead, create, develop and contribute on a level that's never been done this widely before.

In other words, we Boomers, can truly lead our world. We are uniquely equipped to do so in the next 20-25 years.

Invitation: Get up to speed, Boomers. There's not much juice in merely retiring. That's an industrial era notion for people being compensated for not having had any real self-expression at work or knowledge of their own, their own "craft".....that's not us.

We are a new era.

No one has e-v-e-r had this widespread opportunity and for those of us that think we may not be able to leave the planet better than we found it (an open question)....what we can do is equip the next generation to be big enough, "bad" enough, courageous enough and equipped enough to deal with what they will be dealing with:

• Climate change/the natural world.
• The completion of and the dying of terror and conceivably, armed conflict.
• Effective and inspiring education, training and development.
• Spirituality, developed and fulfilled, including well beyond "organized", institutional religion.
• A world marked by a shared, common, felt sense regarding the enabling of all human beings to participate in designing and fulfilling their own lives, as their own self-expression and as their own contribution.

Each one of us.

Boomers: We have 20-30 years to generate this shift -- to leave the world ready, able and willing for whatever comes next....and to die having played our aces...to have contributed beyond anything of the prior eldest generations and to do so, uniquely, as our own self-expression.

Boomers: It is Time to Play ball!