Learn, Earn & Return: "Repowerment" in the Third Age - HECMWorld.com Skip to content

Learn, Earn & Return: “Repowerment” in the Third Age



Seniors volunteering with Habitat for Humanity.

As aging expert Ken Dychtwald moved closer to becoming an elder, Dychtwald, who coined the term “Age Wave” to describe this rising tide of Boomers, discovered something crucial about his own life: he had achieved significant success, but that didn’t equate to significance. He awakened to the truth that many older adults face as they move into the Third Age: how to move from creating success to contributing greater meaning later in life.

One shining example he recounts in With Purpose, his sixteenth book, is that of centenarian Kathryn Wasserman Davis, a world-class philanthropist and international dignitary who launched Projects for Peace as she approached her 100th birthday. Davis’ initiative provides grants to students who have an idea for peace, enabling them to see it to fruition.

Davis exemplifies “significance” in every area of her life. Defying chronology, she’s also an avid painter and athlete who swims with dolphins and rides as a passenger on a friend’s motorcycle. Describing her commitment to being as useful as possible while she’s here, Davis defines three basic life stages: “Learn, earn, return.” She’s done them all in spades — and hearts.

How can you encourage your reverse mortgage clients and prospects to live purpose-filled lives in their Third Age? Here are some suggestions:

  • Mentor. Dychtwald recounts how, in the early years of running his company, Age Wave, he was facing a number of internal challenges and considered walking away. A one-day consultation with a 70-something retired businessman altered his thinking completely. Had he not had that man’s mentoring at the right moment, who knows how his career trajectory might have played out? Ask your reverse mortgage clients about their work history, areas of expertise, and whether they’ve considered using this accumulated knowledge and wisdom to help younger people succeed.
  • Engage. Dychtwald shares the moving experience he and his wife had building a house with former president Jimmy Carter, his wife Rosalyn, and an entire Habitat for Humanity team. Over the course of four days, the sweat equity everyone poured into the house with their labors of love enriched those who gave as much, if not more, than those who received. Carter told the assembled team that giving is, indeed, its own reward: “Every time we (he and Rosalyn) thought we were making a sacrifice for others, it has turned out to be one of our greatest blessings.” In what areas might your reverse mortgage prospects possess a skill they can joyfully engage to serve those less fortunate?
  • Repurpose. While some seniors have more than sufficient savings for their later years, others find a reverse mortgage the saving grace they need to live later life without fear of penury. Yet regardless of where someone stands in financial terms, they can use their Third Age to make a difference with money, either by donating time and services to help others, by finding new purpose in old skills, or through reclaiming other interests and talents to meet fresh needs. One man who had spent his career as an orthodontist had a passion for travel and photography. Catalyzed by the events of 9/11, he recast his avocation into a cross-cultural program to help youth develop a greater understanding of other cultures, by developing a non-profit photo-swapping site (this obviously predated Facebook!)

By encouraging your reverse mortgage clients and prospects to pay it forward, they will be “repowering” their lives and leaving a legacy that could have ripple effects for generations to come.


Leave a Comment


  1. Ms. Rose,

    Great post!!

  2. Hello James,

    Thank you so much! And please feel free to address me by my first name ~ I’m not a formal person 🙂


Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Must Read:


Recent Stories