Musings

How to Take Command of 2023

Guest Post by Joe Hart

Screen Shot 2023-01-10 at 12.56.01 PMThere's always a better way to respond to your current challenges and circumstances. Of course, this often requires a change in approach. Here are key strategies that will help you “do the work” to find your inner strength, build enduring relationships, unlock your full potential and ultimately create the life you want.

#1 Find Your Inner Strength
One key to living a happy and successful life is finding your inner strength. This means understanding and managing your thoughts and emotions, and developing habits and practices that help you cultivate a strong, optimistic mindset. Here are a few ways to do this:
Pay Attention to Your Thoughts
How often do you think about what you think? Most of us go through our days reacting to things that happen to us, without taking the time to really consider our thoughts. But the thoughts we have can have a big impact on our emotions and actions. It's important to take a step back and ask yourself if you're really thinking about something the right way. Are you seeing things clearly? Challenge negative thoughts and try to see things in a more positive light.
Handle Stress
Stress is a normal part of life, but it's important to learn how to manage it. When we're stressed, it can be tempting to turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms like overeating, procrastinating, or relying on drugs or alcohol. But these behaviors can actually make things worse in the long run. Instead, try healthy stress management techniques like exercise, meditation, or talking to a trusted friend or family member.
Build Courage and Confidence
Another key to inner strength is courage and confidence. When we feel confident, we're more likely to take on new challenges and persevere when things get tough. But confidence doesn't always come naturally. It's something we need to work on and build over time. One way to do this is by setting small, achievable goals for ourselves and then celebrating our successes. As we accomplish more and more, our confidence will grow.
Deal with Change
Change is a fact of life, and it can be hard to deal with at times. But it's also an opportunity for growth and development. When faced with change, try to focus on the positives and see it as a chance to learn and adapt. Change can be scary, but it can also be exciting. Embrace it and see where it takes you.
Move Past Regret
It's natural to have regrets from time to time, but it's important not to let them hold us back. Instead of dwelling on the past, try to learn from your mistakes and move on. Don't let regret keep you from pursuing your goals and living the life you want.

#2 Building Enduring Relationships
Having strong connections with the people around us is an essential part of a fulfilling life. Whether you're an introvert or an extrovert, it's important to be able to connect with people authentically and respectfully. Here are a few ways to build great relationships:
Be Warm
Showing warmth is an important part of building relationships. Being open and friendly with body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice helps others feel emotionally safe and trustworthy. Research shows that 55% of communication is nonverbal, so the way you present yourself is almost more important than what you say.
Listen
Effective listening involves more than simply not talking while someone else speaks. It means opening your mind to truly hear what the other person is saying and asking follow-up questions to gain a deeper understanding. It also means being patient and showing that you're truly listening. Dale Carnegie wrote that "intent and focused listening is one of the highest compliments we can pay someone."
Find Common Ground and Show Genuine Interest
Connecting with others through common interests, hobbies, professions, and values can help build strong relationships. This is especially important in the early stages of getting to know someone, but it can also be used to reconnect with relationships that have faded or to strengthen relationships that are going through a rough patch.
Showing genuine interest in others helps build connections.

#3 Taking Command of Your Future
Set Clear Goals
Pursuing your purpose and creating a vision for your life are important steps in living an intentional life. This means knowing your "why": what drives you and what you want to accomplish. It's about taking control of your life and making conscious decisions about the kind of life you want to live and the contribution you want to make. To live an intentional life, it's important to step back and think about your values, goals, and priorities. In the end, living an intentional life is about making conscious choices that align with your values and goals. By taking control of your future and defining your purpose, you can create a life that is meaningful and fulfilling.
Seek Fellowship-Based Inspiration
Developing a vision for your life can be exhilarating, as it allows you to see the possibilities for your future. It can also be eye-opening, as it may reveal areas of your life that you're not fully satisfied with or that you're not giving the attention they deserve. For example, you may realize that you've been focusing too much on work and not enough on your relationships with friends and family. To create a vision for your life, it can be helpful to seek guidance from inspiring leaders who are pursuing their dreams and making a lasting difference. These individuals can provide valuable insight on how to pursue your own passions and make a positive impact on the world.

It's important to remember that each of us has inherent greatness within us, no matter one’s background or circumstances. By developing and leveraging this greatness, you have the potential to achieve anything for yourself and make a positive impact on the lives of others. The strategies outlined above require ongoing attention and proactive application in order to achieve success. By focusing on your thoughts, emotions, relationships and passions with regularity, you can better control your future and live life to its fullest.

Joe Hart is the President & Chief Executive Officer of Dale Carnegiea global training and development company with operations in over 75 countries an d a worldwide leader in professional development, performance improvement, leadership training and employee engagement. Participants can build skills through in-person, live online, and hybrid programs. Also author of the book, Take Command: Find Your Inner Strength, Build Enduring Relationships, and Live the Life You Want,” Joe has a unique understanding of how leaders can inspire trust, create an environment of psychological safety, drive employee engagement and instill a culture of creativity and resilience toward change.

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Out of Work... and Loving It

Pexels-thuongnguyen-14772095Here's a side effect of the COVID-19 pandemic unrelated to hospitalizations and deaths that is just as statistically significant: Baby Boomers have been leaving the job market with no plans to return.

Between the end of the 2008 recession and the start of the pandemic, the U.S. labor force increased by almost 10 million people, and workers 55 and older made up nearly 98 percent of that growth. Boomers were clearly bullish on the job market.

That was then and this is now. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, workers age 65 and older were 26 percent of the labor participation rate in February 2020, but that had dropped to 22.7 percent in July 2021. In November 2022, it was 23.5 percent.

A recent article in The New York Times suggests that of the 3.5 million currently missing from the labor force, "roughly two million, have simply retired." The article goes on to state:

"Among Americans ages 18 to 64, the labor force participation rate — the share of people working or actively looking for work — has largely rebounded to early 2020 levels. Among those 65 and up, on the other hand, participation lags well below its prepandemic level, the equivalent of a decline of about 900,000 people. That has helped to keep overall participation steadily lower than it was in 2020.

...the pandemic seems to have nudged people who might otherwise have labored through a few more years over the cusp and into retirement."

So what are all of these newly "retired" Boomers doing? Some are working part-time for employers. Some have started their own businesses. Others are volunteering. Others may be drawing on Social Security and retirement savings, kicking back and enjoying a work-free life. Or -- some combination thereof.

 It is likely COVID-19 played a role in changing the perspective of Boomers, some of whom may have seen the pandemic as a wakeup call that life is even more fleeting than they thought -- so why spend it working? It could also be that some Boomers were fed up with the relentless ageism they encountered in the workplace. Those Boomers who could afford not to work at full-time jobs apparently decided to leave the workforce.

Whatever their motivation, the mass exit of Boomers from the U.S. labor market is a dramatic reversal of a long-time trend -- and it's a reality that has not gone unnoticed.

Photo by Thuong.Nguyen.97, pexels.com 

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An Aging Brain is Not a Bad Thing

Pexels-ekaterina-bolovtsova-6193936One of the symbols of ageism is the unwelcome image of a doddering, feeble and discombobulated old-timer. Scientific research suggests this could not be further from the truth.

A fascinating article written by two doctors and published last July in Cerebrum, sponsored by the private philanthropic organization Dana Foundation, cites research that most adults age successfully, and their aging brains are a large part of the reason why. Drs. Tanya Nguyen and Dilip Jeste write:

"As we grow older, our physical functioning declines, but our mental and social functioning tends to improve. ...Physical capacity and mental speed begin to decline around age 30, and even more noticeably after age 50. But not all mental functions deteriorate. 'Crystallized' cognitive skills at age 75 are roughly equivalent to those at age 20. These are the intellectual abilities based on the accumulation of knowledge, facts, skills, and experiences throughout life, such as verbal skills and inductive reasoning."

In citing a study conducted at the UC San Diego Center for Healthy Aging, Nguyen and Jeste report:

"...mental well-being improved in an almost linear fashion from age 20 until the 90s. Young adults in their 20s and 30s suffered the most from depressive symptoms, anxiety, and stress. As the years progressed, most people felt they were aging successfully—a sense of well-being that includes attainment of goals, positive attitudes toward oneself and the future, social connectedness, and adaptation—despite worse physical functioning and social stresses. We saw this phenomenon not only in healthy older adults living in communities but also in those with and being treated for serious mental and medical illnesses, including schizophrenia, AIDS, and cancer."

Some of the most important brain research is in the area of neuroplasticity. According to Nguyen and Jeste:

"One of the most exciting developments in neuroscience during the past two decades is the discovery that our brain continues to evolve into old age through 'plasticity,' i.e., strengthening of existing synapses and formation of new ones, in the context of appropriate physical, cognitive, and psychosocial stimulation. ...People who stay active physically, cognitively, and socially tend to maintain their vocabulary, their ability to recognize events, objects, and people they’ve encountered before, and the motor skills learned during early childhood, such as swimming or bicycling. Their brains are likely to escape the atrophy that occurs in the brains of sedentary, lonely, inactive seniors."

Another intriguing aspect of the aging brain is in responding to emotions:

"This might explain the “positivity effect” of aging, a tendency to favor positive emotions and memories. Older people pay attention to and remember pleasurable and gratifying events better than sad, frightening, regrettable ones, whereas younger individuals retain positive and negative information equally well. It is as if young minds are like Velcro® for negative experiences, and older minds like Teflon®. Older adults more easily dispel feelings of disappointment, regret, and remorse, and worry less about events or issues they cannot change."

Perhaps this offers some reassurance that an aging brain is not a bad thing -- and aging isn't so bad either!

Photo by Ekaterina Bolovtsova, pexels.com 

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Back to Work for Boomers?

Pexels-ron-lach-8691840This report about a survey conducted a few months ago caught my eye and I thought it was worth sharing:

More than three in 10 U.S. retirees [31 percent] say they would be motivated to rejoin the workforce if inflation continued to eat into their savings, according to the latest American Staffing Association Workforce Monitor® online survey conducted by The Harris Poll.

In addition to inflation, the role of Social Security insurance was also top of mind for many retirees, with 25% saying they’d be motivated to rejoin the workforce if Social Security no longer covered their expenses. Thirty-nine percent of retirees cited Social Security as their main source of income, while 33% cited retirement plans such as 401(k) accounts and pensions.

Overall, 14% of current retirees stated they are open to or actively looking for work. However, the study found that 43% of retirees said their age could be a barrier to getting a new job. In addition, 41% of retirees would look for a job if they could have a flexible work schedule, and 35% would do so if they could work remote full-time.

“At a time when more retirees need additional income and employers need their expertise and experience, older workers continue to face hiring barriers,” said Richard Wahlquist, president and chief executive officer at the American Staffing Association. “Employers that take steps to embrace flexibility and diversity across their entire workforces will be more productive and have higher levels of employee engagement.”

The news comes at a time when there are nearly two job openings per unemployed person in the U.S., according to the latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

With financial markets currently unsettled, it is likely retirement savings accounts are being battered right now. On the other hand, the Social Security Administration indicated that monthly payments would increase around 8.7 percent -- sure to be appreciated by those Boomers drawing benefits.

Persistent inflation has changed the way some retirees are thinking about work. As the survey report indicates, almost one third of all retirees may well consider returning to the workforce, but almost half of them believe age is a barrier to getting a job. A flexible work schedule is especially attractive to retirees.

Wouldn't it be nice if the desires of older workers actually meshed with the needs of employers -- and if employers recognized the value of hiring older workers.

Photo by Ron Lach, pexels.com

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5 People Who Made A Difference After Age 50

History is packed with stories of individuals who made society a better place after they turned 50. Many of those individuals continue to strive to better their communities - and the world - each and every day.

Courtesy of MedicareInsurance.com,  here are five outstanding people who made a difference after age 50.

5. Jimmy Carter

JimmyCarterPortrait2President Jimmy Carter has spent the majority of his life working to make a difference in the world. However, he’s best known for his public service outside of office. Especially the work he’s done with Habitat for Humanity.

In 1986, at the age of 62, President Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, established the Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project. What started with President and Rosalynn Carter working with Habitat for Humanity volunteers to renovate a run-down apartment building has grown into an annual program that’s helped thousands of families in fourteen countries.

At age 98, President Carter still volunteers his time to the JRCWP to help Habitat volunteers build safe shelters for families in need.

4. Nelson Mandela

Nelson_Mandela-2008_(edit)_(cropped)Nelson Mandela spent the vast majority of his life working to end the vile apartheid movement in South Africa. It was as he entered his 70s that he would do his greatest work.

In 1991, Mandela became a key part of the Convention for a Democratic South America, helping broker the negotiations that would end the dark era of apartheid in South Africa. After being elected President in 1994, he ushered in a long-awaited reconciliation between the Black and white populations of South Africa.

Even after leaving office, President Mandela continued to champion for human rights around the world. Through his Nelson Mandela Foundation, he also continued to work to improve living conditions in his native South Africa.

3. Mel Brooks

MelBrooksApr10Mel Brooks is the comic genius behind such legendary films as Young Frankenstein, The Producers, and Blazing Saddles. What you may not know is that he has long championed the visions of younger artists as a producer. The kicker is that, ever the late bloomer, Brooks didn’t earn his reputation as a “producer on the cutting edge” until he was well in his 50s!

Brooks would start his "Brooksfilms" imprint in 1980 at the age of 56. This gave him a platform to bolster the works of auteurs whose art may have never been seen by a wider audience if not for him. In essence, Brooks showed audiences that “Old Hollywood” could still have their finger on the pulse of what was considered cutting edge.

2. Katherine Johnson

Katherine_Johnson_1983After the release of the hit film Hidden Figures, the work of NASA engineer Katherine Johnson reached a wider audience than ever. Even in the wake of the 2016 film, however, this groundbreaking scientist astill has yet to receive the recognition and accolades that she truly deserves.

Johnson’s success in her field showed women of color that their achievements had no ceiling. Her numerous achievements in her field have inspired young women everywhere to enter the once-considered “off limits” fields of science and technology.

1. Maya Angelou

Maya_Angelou_(47327455761)The late, great Maya Angelou overcame a tormented past to blaze trails for people of color in the fields of writing and art. Her poetry and prose, designed to help her confront the worst parts of her life, heavily influenced numerous hip-hop artists and writers of color.

Angelou’s work and never-ending advocacy for peace and healing made her an often-called-upon speaker to advocate for those who wished to further work in civil rights and reformations in the justice system. As a result, her words have played a huge role in the never-ending battle to reform human rights in the United States.

Hopefully, this goes to show you that you’re never too old to be the change you want to see in the world. That change starts with you.

This post was provided by MedicareInsurance.com. A quality Medicare plan can keep you healthy in mind and body, and MedicareInsurance.com can help you find one in your area. You can reach one of their licensed agents at (800) 950-0608 to discover your options.

Photo credits:
Jimmy Carter: DOD, Department of the Navy. Naval Photographic Center, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Nelson Mandela: Johannesburg, South Africa, 2008. CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Mel Brooks: Angela George, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Katherine Johnson: NASA, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Maya Angelou: John Mathew Smith & www.celebrity-photos.com from Laurel  Maryland, USA, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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Ageism and Ableism are a Toxic Duo

Ageism, or discrimination against older people, runs rampant throughout many of the world's nations. As I've written about previously, in the United States, ageism rears its ugly head in advertising, on the streets of our cities, and in the workplace. Another form of discrimination -- ableism, or discrimination against the disabled -- is also an  unfortunate societal ill. Put these two together and they become a toxic brew.

As people grow older, it is a fair assumption that a good number of them will eventually have a disability of some kind. For some, it could be a physical disability that requires a walker or wheelchair. For others, it could be a mental disability that affects speech, hearing or mental acuity.

Terry Fulmer and Grace Morton address this issue in an insightful article on Next Avenue. They write:

"Individuals with visible disabilities, or those we can see, are more likely to experience ableism of all forms including systemic ableism, or discrimination from society in places like schools or on public transportation. However, those with invisible disabilities — such as autism and chronic pain — are more likely to have their concerns minimized by family and health professionals and may need to fight harder to have their unique needs met. In some cases, people may even doubt that a person with an invisible disability is disabled at all. Either way, aging with disabilities is challenging, given that our society is not designed for either older or disabled people."

I call your attention to part of the last line: "...given that our society is not designed for either older or disabled  people." It's a sad reality when we as a society do not respect others who are older or disabled or both, or when one individual looks at another as inferior because of age or disability or both. We have to ask ourselves what that says about our society's values and even about the common decency of individuals in our society.

It's inevitable that people grow older. It's likely that some of them will become disabled as they age. According to Fulmer and Morton, "we know that the combination of ableism and ageism can have serious effects on the livelihood and health of older adults with disabilities, including being at a higher risk for depression, obesity, smoking, heart disease and more."

We can all be anti-discrimination advocates by being sensitive to the toxic duo of ageism and ableism and making others aware of it as well. 

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Cogeneration is a Promise for the Future

Screen Shot 2022-10-14 at 2.20.22 PMThe well-respected Encore.org just announced it is changing its name to "CoGenerate." Some name changes can be viewed as simply refreshing a brand, but this particular one seems more substantive.

In an email to supporters, the organization explained the name change this way:

"As Encore, we helped change cultural expectations for the years beyond 50 and expand the contributions of older people. As CoGenerate, we’re focusing on what the vast and growing older population can do in collaboration with younger generations to solve society’s most pressing problems.

We call that intergenerational collaboration 'cogeneration,' and we believe it’s an essential and effective strategy to create connection across differences, combat polarization and ageism, and build an equitable, healthy, inclusive, productive, safe, and joyful world together."

Not surprisingly, the email was signed by Co-CEOs Marc Freedman and Eunice Lin Nichols. One look at their photos and it is obvious that the organization practices what it preaches: the two leaders are clearly from different generations.

A national opinion survey conducted by Encore.org with NORC at the University of Chicago's AmeriSpeak Panel validates not just the name change but the concept of "cogeneration." The survey reached 1,549 respondents, age 18 to 94 in U.S. households in March 2022. Here are some of the key findings:

  • 60 percent of respondents strongly agree "Working across generations can help America better solve its problems."
  • 52.4 percent strongly agree "Working across generations can reduce divisions in our society."
  • Despite strong interest in working across generations, fully half of respondents cited a range of obstacles preventing them from acting on it. These included difficulty communicating with members of other generations and lack of opportunities to work with people of other generations. Almost three-quarters (72 percent) said they wish they had more opportunities to work across generations for change.
  • Of those who have worked across generations for social change, learning, sharing knowledge and increasing appreciation for other generations are by far the most frequently cited answers. Moreover, the learning and sharing knowledge dynamics are notably two-way.
  • While younger and older generations want to work together on some of the same issues, the interest varies widely by age and race. For example, mental health topped the list for younger generations, while the environment came first among older ones.
The survey demonstrates a strongly positive desire for generations to know each other better and work together. It represents promise for the future of America -- if generations can find meaningful opportunities to collaborate and cooperate. That is the noble purpose of CoGenerate.

Read more about the survey here: https://cogenerate.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/Encore-Cogneration-Report-1.pdf

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Communities Serving Seniors

Pexels-marcus-aurelius-6787539People are living longer and "aging in place" is an increasingly popular strategy adopted by seniors. The inevitability of an aging population in the United States presents all sorts of challenges for the communities in which they live. Communities must find ways to respond to the needs of seniors or they could face a serious social crisis.

Thankfully, there are communities that today serve seniors in appropriate ways. The two examples I offer here are  smaller cities on opposite sides of the country. By so doing I intend to demonstrate that any community that cares about its senior population can take meaningful action.

Asheville, North Carolina

Nestled among the Blue Ridge Mountains and with a vibrant food, beer and arts scene, Asheville is a small city (population around 95,000) that deservedly gets high marks as a world-class tourist destination. To some observers, Asheville may appear to be a young, happening place, but the city is also home to a sizable senior population -- 28 percent of Buncombe County (which includes Asheville and a few other towns) is age 60 or older. Local government, nonprofit organizations and educational institutions are well aware of this, and they work to provide seniors with services that much larger cities would envy.

For example, on the campus of the University of North Carolina Asheville (UNCA) is OLLI Asheville -- one of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes found at college campuses around the country. OLLI Asheville has its own building on campus, which serves as a gathering place for the College for Seniors, retirement seminars, lectures, presentations, meetings and social events. The Fall semester's 90 courses, taught by retired professionals, blend on-campus only, hybrid and online only offerings. OLLI Asheville has over 1,000 members who take classes and volunteer for OLLI and in the community.

Recently, Buncombe County and UNCA announced that they plan to collaborate on a $26 million Active Aging Center to be built on the campus but on county land. Buncombe County would own and operate the Center with the full cooperation of UNCA. According to county information provided to the Asheville Citizen-Times, a local newspaper, “(The Active Aging Center) will provide an integrated service delivery model, incorporating healthcare, childcare, adult day, retail, technology, community resources and other services for Buncombe County. This approach encourages greater community collaboration, connectivity and congregation of people and places.” According to the county, the Acting Aging Center will offer:

  • Better navigation and access for aging adults and their caregivers that underpins community health initiatives.
  • Improved utilization of financial and funding resources across aging services providers with both the reduction of duplication of services and subsequent resources.
  • Creation of an innovative model that is ready for the future, that will be proactive, collaborative, and responsive to the needs of those that will be aging in our community.
  • Incorporate a collective impact model and strategies to accomplish common goals for our aging community members across providers.
  • Establishing a model of best practices in the delivery of aging services in Western North Carolina.

Berkeley, California

With about 123,000 residents, Berkeley, California isn't much bigger than Asheville, but it is near two large cities, Oakland and San Francisco. About 16 percent of the population is age 65 or older. Berkeley also boasts an active OLLI, located at the University of California Berkeley. OLLI at UC Berkeley is a learning community of 2,500 members who participate in on-campus and online courses, speaker events, intergenerational dialogues, research opportunities, Town Halls, meetups, and more.

The Berkeley community offers a range of services to seniors through two Senior Centers, one in North Berkeley and one in South Berkeley. Senior Services Assistants at each center help seniors gain access to needed services that include transportation, food, medical resources, health insurance and financial benefits advocacy resources, legal assistance resources, affordable housing listings, utilities and energy assistance resources, home care assistance referrals and more.

It is worth noting that California is one of just five states to have a "master plan for aging." The state projects that one-quarter of its population will be 60 or over by 2030. According to the state, "This is not a plan simply for today’s older adults. Instead, it is a blueprint for aging across the lifespan. The Master Plan for Aging calls on all California communities to build a California for All Ages & Abilities: for older Californians currently living through the many different stages of the second half of life; for younger generations who can expect to live longer lives than their elders; for communities of all ages – family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, and caregivers – surrounding older adults and people with disabilities."

Asheville and Berkeley are only two examples of communities that recognize the importance of serving their senior population. Wherever you live, as you age, be sure to seek out all of the local services available to seniors in your community provided by government, nonprofit organizations and educational institutions. There may be a lot of support available that you didn't know about.

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Photo by Marcus Aurelius, pexels.com

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Age, Voting and Politics

Pexels-sora-shimazaki-5935742Older Americans tend to know that voting is a precious right. In the 2020 presidential election, for example, 76 percent of Americans ages 65 to 74 voted -- the highest of any age group, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Age plays another role in our national political conversation. Joe Biden was the oldest man to take the oath of President at age 78. Twenty-five U.S. Senators are more than 70 years old, and seventy-six U.S. Representatives are at least 70 years old. Does that matter?

It shouldn't, according to Dr. Dilip Jeste, a University of California, San Diego psychiatry professor and past president of the American Psychiatric Association and the American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry. Quoted in a NextAvenue article, Dr. Jeste says, "The media have often used derogatory terms like 'silver tsunami' to describe the rising numbers of seniors. This has led to greater scrutiny of older leaders in politics and elsewhere. Just as people should not be stereotyped and stigmatized because of their sex or race/ethnicity, they should not be discriminated due to their chronological age."

Jeste further points out that "Youth bring energy, excitement, ambition, and innovation, while older adults bring empathy, emotional regulation, self-reflection, and openness to diverse perspectives, which all are components of wisdom. Needless to add that not all the youth and all the seniors exhibit these traits, but many do."

Unfortunately, ageism is as prevalent in politics as it is in the American workplace. Just recently, in an interview on Sixty Minutes, Scott Pelley questioned Joe Biden about his age. Pelley said, "Mr. President, you are the oldest president ever. ...You are more aware of this than anyone. Some people ask whether you are fit for the job. And when you hear that, I wonder what you think." Pelley followed that up with this question: "How would you say your mental focus is?" While these may be legitimate concerns, it is interesting to note the manner in which the questions were asked -- by 65-year old Scott Pelley.

Hopefully, a voter is considering more important factors than age; in particular, whether the politician represents the voter's views and seems to be the best candidate for the job. Making age a determining factor in deciding for whom to vote is just one more example of ageism.

Photo by Sora Simazaki at pixels.com

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How Serena Williams is Redefining "Retirement"

Pexels-cottonbro-5741051Watching Serena Williams play tennis in the first round of the U.S. Open on Monday night, August 29, was like watching an unstoppable force of nature. The 40-year-old Williams defeated a 27-year-old opponent, not easily but convincingly. Yet earlier in August, in Vogue magazine, Williams shocked the sports world by announcing her retirement from tennis.

Normally, when you hear the word "retirement," you think of the traditional meaning: older generations ending their work lives to move on to something else. But in the case of Serena Williams, she was making a different kind of life choice, announcing to the world that she wanted to grow her family rather than remain in the sport as arguably the best tennis player in the world. Here is the way she expressed it:

"I have never liked the word retirement. It doesn’t feel like a modern word to me. I’ve been thinking of this as a transition, but I want to be sensitive about how I use that word, which means something very specific and important to a community of people. Maybe the best word to describe what I’m up to is evolution. I’m here to tell you that I’m evolving away from tennis, toward other things that are important to me. A few years ago I quietly started Serena Ventures, a venture capital firm. Soon after that, I started a family. I want to grow that family."

I think her use of the word "evolution" as a label for what Williams is feeling is very appropriate. In fact, it strikes me that the concept of evolution just as easily applies to Boomers on the brink of "retirement." Like Williams, I have never liked the word "retirement." For several years, I have used the word "rewirement" to describe a new way of looking at retirement (after all, "rewired" is in the header of my blog).

I think the concept of rewiring is still relevant, but I also think evolving is an apt description for the collective advancement of Boomers into the next phase of our lives. The reality is that we go through phases that are not hard and fast with defined beginnings and ends; rather we evolve. Recognizing that evolutionary process may make it easier to understand and accept the phases of life that have passed and are still to come.

So thank you, Serena, for redefining retirement. You are showing the world that you can be the best you can be in your career and love what you do -- but still acknowledge that there are indeed other things in life that may be of greater importance. That's something Boomers would do well to acknowledge. Life's challenges and choices are not always easy, but we continue to evolve.

Whether or not she wins the U.S. Open, Serena Williams is teaching all of us a lesson about competing at the highest level -- in both sports and in life.

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Discover How World War II Helped Launch "Boomer Brands"