Remaking our Aging

On this day after the Inauguration of the presidency of Barack Obama, it’s a good time to consider his words of hope and his words challenging us to “dust ourselves off and begin again the work of remaking America.” With the growth of the aging population, it’s a good time to consider this within the context of aging. This is the time to take charge of our own aging.
The safety net is shrinking. It was already full of holes and now, even with all the bail-outs and stimulus, neither government nor corporate America can do much more for us as we age.
Last century we gave more and more government benefits to older persons. Now the Feds argue about how to best fix Social Security and Medicare, let alone the budget cuts needed in other programs. The states, under similar fiscal stress have backed off too. Local communities do what they can, but it’s coming back to us to take more responsibility for our own aging.
We Americans have always emphasized both mutual support and self-sufficiency. We often debate what the public should do and what the individual should do.
It’s an American dichotomy. We have the strongest non-profit sector in the world. We will always rely on family and friends and volunteers and non-profit agencies to care for older people without adding much government money. As in the African proverb, we know “It takes a village to raise a child.” But Americans have always stressed the responsibility of the individual.
Now, the pendulum is swinging back to an individual focused society.
What this means is that more and more… it’s down to you. No question about it. You will do much more for yourself in the coming years – you must build and manage your finances, your health, your livelihood, your life.
So how do you want your aging life to look? It’s the chance to design the second part of your life. Not just the chance anymore, but the responsibility. How will you pay for 30 years of retirement and leisure? How will you pay for your health care? Where will you live? What can you do to stay healthy and fit? What kind of 90 year old will you be? How will you stay in charge of any care you’ll need?
If you don’t know what kind of life you want as you age, it’s time to find out. Complete this sentence: “After retirement, I, accomplished …. List ten of your most outrageous dreams.
So think about how you will continue to make or to remake yourself as an older person and how we want to remake the society to ennoble aging. We have duties to ourselves and to our own future and our community’s future.
Here are some resources to get you started on your own quest to remake your aging in the new America:
Website Resources:
The International Coach Federation:
The American Association of Nurse Life Care Planners:
The 360-Degree Retirement
Print Resources: Finding Your Own North Star: How to Claim the Life You Were Meant to Live, by Martha Beck.