Making Friends with Age, As We Age
“How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you was?”
~ Satchel Paige
Who retires at 65? Far fewer people than just a couple of decades ago. According to the World Economic Forum, in 1994 a forth of American men aged 65-69 participated in the labor force. That figure had risen to 36 percent by 2014 — and is forecast to reach 40 percent by 2024.
The trend is similar for even older men, with 17 percent of those aged 75-79 expected to still be working in a decade, up from just ten percent in 1994.
“Clearly, these older people did not get the message that they were supposed to become old-age dependents when they turned 65,” states the Forum.
I know two 70+ entrepreneurs (one of whom is 76-year-old prosperity coach Joan Sotkin, just to even the gender playing field a bit), who are thriving in their global businesses, with no plans to retire. Veteran broadcast journalist Morley Safer said goodbye to 60 Minutes last month — at 84. After 46 years, the celebrated correspondent observed, “It’s been a good run”. Safer then said goodbye to life a few weeks later. Perhaps, for those of us who truly love what they do, retirement is a final farewell. There’s Ron Lehker, becoming a Reddit guru at 90. Many reverse mortgage professionals reading this blog are also well beyond traditional retirement age.
On one hand, this means the economic and health care “burden” of today’s retirees may be less onerous than projected.
Make New Friends, But Keep the Old
On the other hand, living longer, healthier lives also means adapting to change — and finding new friends.
Last month we looked at the importance of accepting change as a key to later life happiness. Losing friends as we grow older is a fact of life: they (or we) relocate, become busy with family, or in some cases, become ill and leave the Earth plane (any of which, of course, can happen at any age).
Making new friends is not something to be left for a rainy day. Being open to and seeking out new friendships throughout the life spectrum is vital. One enterprising Wall Street Journal reporter refers to this quest as “friend dating,” and suggests five steps to starting a friendship:
- Mine existing friendships for “bridge” friends.
- Expand your horizons: don’t just pursue people like you.
- Release expectations; friendships develop over time.
- Share who you are, and welcome the other person’s sharing. It’s a mutual dance of discovery.
- Follow up! Just as with reverse mortgage prospects, the initial contact, or friend date, simply sets the stage. Keep connecting with people who seem like good potential new friends.
There was a point in my life where I counted among my friends at least one person in almost every decade of life: I had friends in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 70s, 80s and 90s. While this has shifted over time, I still love reaching out to those younger and older than I am, as well as to those nearer my own age. It’s refreshing to serve in a mentoring role, and to adopt elders as role models.
The Conscious Elders Network is one such organization of chronologically gifted adults who are joining hands, hearts and intention to help revitalize the planet. Working cross-generationally, the educational non-profit’s website states, “Our vision is to initiate a cultural shift wherein conscious elders reclaim our place in providing education, wisdom, and guidance within our communities. We have the benefits of time, talent, experience and know-how to guide making the needed transformations.” For anyone who’s interested, CEN is holding its annual conference in northern California in September.
It might be a wonderful opportunity to make new friends.
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