Guest blog by Phyllis Strupp, President of Brain Wealth
In 2019, some 30 million baby boomers will be 65 and over. They are not going to go quietly into the “golden years” and “retirement communities” like the generations ahead of them. The word is out: retirement is a bad idea, in the true meaning of the word.
Retirement is defined as withdrawal from one’s active working life to a place of seclusion or privacy. As a result, a person’s identity is defined relative to the workplace. People who keep working are the in group. Retirees are the out group. Decades ago, most people didn’t live much past the age of 70, so this withdrawal from employment was a short blessing after many years of hard work.
Today, many people are living into their 80s and beyond. The old-fashioned approach to retirement is an invitation to loneliness, stagnation, inflammation, and cognitive decline.
There is a better way: “rewirement.” Begin a new adventure to explore life beyond the workplace. Keep the brain—and your life story—getting better with age.
Evidence increasingly suggests that Alzheimer’s risk can be reduced through lifestyle choices. In a recent interview, when asked about the prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease, Linda P. Fried, dean of Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and an internationally recognized gerontologist, shared some good news about brain health:
“The “Health and Retirement Study,” a longitudinal survey funded by the National Institute on Aging, has recently shown that among Americans with high levels of education, rates of Alzheimer’s disease have actually plummeted since 2000. Now, the fact that the decline is occurring only among better-educated people is problematic, obviously, but it should motivate us to figure out exactly what resources, activities, and environments protect against dementia. In the meantime, I think we ought to be investing more money in public-health programs that encourage participation in the simple things that we already know are beneficial for long-term cognitive health: reading, learning new tasks, exercising, eating healthfully, and leading an active life.”
In 2019, some 30 million baby boomers will be between the ages of 65-73. They have more education than the generations ahead of them. These potential residents of the senior living industry are saying “no thank you” to an obsolete lifestyle. They are looking for rewirement, not retirement. Prettier buildings will not be enough to entice them, and neither will dog parks and vegan menus.
Because American society is so work-focused, baby boomers are going to need a little help in forging their path into a meaningful third act. They will need new tools, tips, techniques, and teachers to learn how to transform aging into the adventure of a lifetime. They want to use it rather than lose it, so they will need some help with brain training, too.
The future belongs to “rewirement” communities with a culture than enables the win-win of personal growth and contribution to society beyond the workplace. Retirement is out. Rewirement is in.
About the author
Phyllis T. Strupp, MBA, is an award-winning author and brain training expert who teaches how to improve the performance of bran assets. She has taught programs in senior living communities for 11 years. Her 2016 book Better with Age: The Ultimate Guide to Brain Training introduces a pioneering approach to “use it or lose it” based on successful outcomes from her experiences in brain training teaching and consulting. Her background includes a “Brain Research in Education” certificate from the University of Washington in Seattle, an MBA in finance from Columbia University in 1982, and a 30-year career in finance. For more info: www.brainwealth.info.
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