Many of you know that we provide coaching services to the aging industry, especially in the independent and assisted communities for executives and their staff. What you may not know is that we also provide coaching to anyone looking for later life fulfillment. We have coached former military veterans, retired college professors, police officers, and even physicians looking for something fulfilling after a career of saving lives in major hospitals. Aside from achieving a specific age, each of them told us they were ‘still young inside’ or ‘had a lot of life yet to live’. With our clients’ consent, we’ll tell you about two real life stories; and, how you might separate age from achievement.
After retiring from the police force Chris was still in good physical condition and restless for a similar level of physical and mental activity. Only now he wanted to be involved in larger effort of the community, perhaps even on a national level. With our sessions together, he planned his strategy to join SeaWorld on their waste-management stewardship program. Chris is able to travel nationally to help the parent company work with suppliers to identify new products that could meet the demanding needs of parks that attract millions of guests. The new products will replace 12.5 million pieces of dinnerware the parks have previously disposed of each year. The plates, forks, knives and spoons that are now used in the parks’ restaurants look and feel like plastic, but are actually made from renewable resources such as sugarcane and vegetable starch. According to Chris, “I’m 65 years young and still robust. Most people are surprised when they discover I’m still working instead of sitting at home in front of the TV. I don’t think I’m atypical. Many people my age are still working and loving it. The difference when you are older is having to take a moment to adapt. Older people are adaptable and still young at heart. Age is just a stage in life and doesn’t mean you have to stop. I can still provide this kind of work, golf; and, cook the best meatloaf in town.”
And then there’s Susan. Susan was a former English teacher for K-12 schools in the Los Angeles system. She also worked internationally in places such as, Pakistan and Central Asia. Now at 67, she felt bored, worthless and was becoming depressed. Susan told us, “I still had a sense of adventure. I felt I could still contribute to a community, and I wanted to be constructive again with kids.” After several sessions of exploration, Susan enlisted to help Global Teach Net, part of the National Peace Corp Association. NPCA is a premier professional development network for global educators. Their membership includes K-12 teachers, post-secondary educators, and non-governmental organization representatives. Here is what Susan will tell you now, “I feel more like I’m 25. I only understand my age when I look in the mirror, see a bit greyer hair and some more wrinkles. But image and appearance is irrelevant when you have something to offer.”
Isn’t it wonderful that we now have about four generations working together in the current national workforce? About 6.4% of Americans 75 or older, slightly more than 1 million were working last year, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Also, almost 3.4% of Americans 80 or older, are still in the workforce whether paid or on volunteer status. What keeps these folks working with the ‘young on the inside’ view point?
Our work with folks like this reveal:
• Getting past 75 took a considerable amount of stress management. When these folks found they were not coping well with life’s situations, they were proactive in seeking professional help.
• They have a sense of curiosity, about many things. They use libraries, available community services, national support units, volunteer organizations, and now, Internet groups to keep them informed of all technological and medical advancements.
• When illness occurs, they recruited competent help. They have demon stared that they will learn how to self administrator medications and injections so that they maintain their independence. Many had a true awareness of how to maintain their health and physical vigor.
• They maintain a social network that spans more than their birth generation; and outside of direct family members. This keeps them involved in current human issues, social needs, and what could be future requirements such as, global warming. Many have said they use strengths from the past to help solve neighborhood dilemmas, much less their own problems.
• Most importantly, they are not afraid of outside scrutiny. They are unafraid to take the lead on a public project just because they have some arthritis. The older worker may have a different style of working, but brings a wealth of experience and reasoning to any effort.