Friday, May 06, 2011

Alive Again After 60

A blogger friend recently wrote on 'Life Begins at 60'. Reading his long but interesting and colorful post I think his life is one that perhaps less than 5% of us can claim to be in the same league. Maybe I can even say that 99% of us lead mundane lives and I belong to that category. I choose to title this post differently because while we reckon retirement as a cut-off point there is still this 'other side of retirement' we cannot ignore. A productive albeit totally different type of life awaits those after 60. I've been following the obituary columns and noted people are dying in their 80s and 90s so there is some 20-30 years left before we queue up to kick the buckets.

How do we spend those remaining 1/3 of our earthly lives? Unfortunately some of us spend those time fussing over little things and making life difficult for others, especially our families and neighbors. Others chose freedom to do what they like. Some decided in discharging their personal social responsibility to help look after grandchildren and perform community service. These are self sacrifices requiring discipline and commitment.

Declining health is a common problem as well as excuse in justifying a laid back life. Another reason is that it is our just reward for all the hard work to raise up our families and provide for their future. But a new trend is evolving for seniors not to waste their lives but give back through social work. In the west it has happened. Retired professionals contribute their knowledge and skills in exchange for free flights, accommodation and meals to participating corporations. While at these assignments they get to take local holidays. Retired professionals can also guide the youths and share their experience on problem solving. It is a matter of discovering where their services can fit in.

There is a category of seniors who cannot retire for various reasons. Financial insecurity is one, marrying late and continuing to support their families is another. Yet a third category is business people who are needed to lead their organizations. Last are people who just cannot see themselves stop working. They will work to their dying days without regrets or remorse. To them life is all about working and providing for the welfare of future generations. Such traditional thinking is fast disappearing as today's seniors seek to balance what they owe to family and society as well as to themselves. Pleasure seeking has become an industry worth billions of dollars.

As much as we pay great attention to growing children, we are now paying attention to how older people live. It is little wonder why great publicity is given to cultivating healthy living habits for mid age adults in order that they can enjoy a healthier old age rather than becoming a burden to their families and themselves. When the time is due almost all seniors wish to go with no debilitating diseases or incapacity of body, spirit and mind. Not thinking about going Home is unreal. As we near that moment the inevitable question will pop up with greater urgency. That is when our faith becomes relevant and peace giving.

Older people are unique. Love us, hate us, we are who you who are younger will become one day. It is blessed to be old. Families with 3 or even 4 generations living under one roof or in close proximity are indeed rare and deserving to be admired in these days when the family unit is breaking up.

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