Pressing the reset button: The gap years / Part 1 - Skip to content

Pressing the reset button: The gap years / Part 1



Reimagine Retirement For Mature Adults

Encore, Encore! Welcome to the Third Age

In an era when Hallmark sells 85,000 “Happy 100th Birthday!” cards in a year, we need to reimagine retirement. The proverbial “three score and ten” is woefully out of date. Today, the years from about 55 to 75 or 80 do not evoke the front porch scenarios of yesteryear. Instead of simply adulthood and old age, we now have a Third Age: the expansive, experienced demographic of mature adults who can transform the landscape of their lives — and our world — with their enthusiasm and generativity.

Mature Adults To Consider:

  • American endurance swimmer Diana Nyad has twice attempted to cross the Florida straits without a shark cage at age 61, following her aborted attempt at 28;
  • 61-year-old Vietnam vet Alan Moore played college football last fall, restarting the sports career that was cut short 43 years ago by the war — the oldest player ever to take the field for a four-year university;
  • Iconic actress Meryl Streep, who graces the cover of Vogue magazine this month, remains a leading lady at 62;
  • The AARP recently published a profile of centenarian Ruth Kobin, who lives independently and credits her good health and flexibility to Pilates and weight training;
  • A couple I know decided, after raising three sons and enjoying several serial careers apiece, to launch an organic farm, even doing the plowing and planting themselves. David was 76 and Val 71 when their dream took root. The farm is now certified organic, providing produce throughout the state where they live.

Reimagine Retirement For Mature Adults

Clearly, our concept of “old” has become old-fashioned. Cathi Watson, a septuagenarian who calls herself a “passionate warrior” on a mission to change the world’s perception of aging, says, “Aging has been theorized, intellectualized, and spiritualized, but never glamorized!” Watson invites us to re-vision the decades as:Sixties: Sexy and Sizzling (fitness and health maven Suzanne Somers, 65, is the poster girl for being “the bomb” as a sexagenarian!)

  • Seventies: Simply Sensational
  • Eighties: Enduring and Enchanting

Watson’s list doesn’t extend to nonagenarians and beyond, so I’ll add:

  • Nineties: Noble and Numinous
  • Hundred and up: Humdinger!

In his breakthrough book, The Big Shift: Navigating the New Stage Beyond Midlife, social entrepreneur Marc Freedman says, “The reality is that the end of middle age is no longer, for most people, attached to the beginning of either retirement or old age. We’re in the early stages of a great migration…across time and the life course, as tens of millions (8,000 Baby Boomers turn 60 every day) reach the spot where middle age used to end and old age once began.”

Opportunity For Reverse Mortgage Professionals

What this means for reverse mortgage professionals is a huge opportunity, as we construct a new life map for the largest aging cohort in history. Freedman writes, “The new stage could well become a destination, even the new crown of life, and the individuals flooding into it the human-capital solution to much that ails us in this society. We are in the position to make a monument from what used to be the leftover years…”

As we embark on 2012, a year that cultures around the world have prophesied as heralding a major shift for humanity, it’s an opportune moment, as a reverse mortgage professional, to broaden your business horizons. Begin to consider what this new demographic might mean in terms of how people will perceive their lives, their homes, and their resources — and how a reverse mortgage could serve them as they move into the Third Age.

In Part 2, we’ll explore new ways to connect with the Third Age population.


Editor in Chief:
As a prominent commentator and Editor in Chief at, Shannon Hicks has played a pivotal role in reshaping the conversation around reverse mortgages. His unique perspectives and deep understanding of the industry have not only educated countless readers but has also contributed to introducing practical strategies utilizing housing wealth with a reverse mortgage.
Shannon’s journey into the world of reverse mortgages began in 2002 as an originator and his prior work in the financial services industry. Shannon has been covering reverse mortgage news stories since 2008 when he launched the podcast HECMWorld Weekly. Later, in 2010 he began producing the weekly video series The Industry Leader Update and Friday’s Food for Thought.
Readers wishing to submit stories or interview requests can reach our team at:

Leave a Comment


  1. We cannot ignore facts or trends. Yet we cannot live by them either.

    For years we have heard how the maturing Boomers would bring “unlimited” originations to our industry. As endorsements continue their tailspin, it is clear that without home appreciation, a population boom will do little for us.

    There is nothing we can do about home values but there are things we can do to connect to seniors to understand their needs and goals. All things indicate real estate values will eventually turn in the right direction but will we be ready for that turn? We can do a lot to grease the skids but are we?

    The article provides insight into working with seniors and understanding them. This type of demographic information can help develop the origination sources from which we will see our industry and our production grow in better times.

  2. Thanks, The Cynic!

    I think we need to re-imagine language along with aging in general; Third Agers don’t feel or behave the way most of us envision “seniors”. What shall we call this new demographic?

    Stay tuned for Part 2 next week!

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