What's Next

Do you know that every day from now until 2020, 10,000 individuals will turn 65 years old? That’s more than a groundswell, that’s a tsunami of elder Americans. Are you a Boomer heading to or into retirement? Have you asked yourself ‘What’s next?’

Some of the top 10 reasons to find alternatives to retirement include the need for mental stimulation, the desire to do something meaningful and significant, the want to do activities that have been postponed, the need to stay connected and the desire to remain physically and mentally healthy and productive. You still need a reason to get up in the morning!

Now that you are retired from your first job or career, you are still a vitally alive and capable human being. You wake up in the morning and you are inspired to do, to be, to live a life of purpose and meaning. Not that your life hasn’t had purpose and meaning to date, but if you are still here, you are not done yet!

We are a generation of individuals who broke down the walls, barriers and glass ceilings for ourselves and those to follow. We changed the face of the nation as we marched for Civil Rights, Stopped the Draft, and demanded Equal Rights and Equal Pay for all. Are you ready to continue to overcome the obstacles that still exist?

How do we impact a society coming to grips with the irony of a generation of Baby Boomers who are extending the life expectancy, yet fraught with the stereotypical depiction of battered, broken down and decrepit in old age? Because this is the first time that this number of individuals who are living longer, who are better educated and who have more free time than any previous generation is poised to make a difference. What does that mean for you and me?

Our first obligation will be to change the way society to sees us. We are not throwaways. We do not retire and go ‘quietly into that good night.’ We have the capability and responsibility to make a difference. Let’s start with how we can break down superficial barriers like ageism, race, religion and gender. We are ALL going to age, like death, it is inevitable.

In 1970, Maggie Kuhn decided that Elder Americans could have a significant impact if we could join together and establish a group whose purpose is to inspire, educate and motivate individuals as a call to action regardless of their advanced age, and to join with other Elders to make a difference in the lives of themselves and others.

“We are the risk-takers; we are the innovators; we are the developers of new models. We are trying the future on for size. That is our role.” -Maggie Kuhn, Founder

I quoted her to say that this movement is not new. This is not the first time individuals could see the writing of the wall of a graying nation. This was not the first time it has been talked about, written about or debated in Congress.  And here we come again!

Let’s continue the legacy we created when our younger selves refused to be silenced on the major issues. It is time to come together and dialogue about how, at this stage of our lives, we can be self-supporting and how we can still serve the generations that follow.

M Samela Dingus