Increased longevity is a global phenomenon. Virtually every country in the world is experiencing a growth in the size and proportion of people aged 65 and over and that includes New Zealand. With increased life expectancy and dramatic improvements in health care, by the time most of us access our superannuation savings we’ll have potentially only lived for two-thirds of our lives!
The world is changing and while we are all growing older, we are not ‘over the hill’, ‘worn out’, ‘un-productive’, ‘old’ or ‘elderly’ at any pre-determined age. These pernicious labels are archaic, often used disparagingly, and are unhelpful. Our mindset and the language we use really does matter – how we feel and speak about ageing impacts on how we age. Age is just a number – not an impediment. Internet entrepreneur Gina Pell advocates the ‘Perennial Mindset in the Era of the Ageless’ – a growth mindset. “Perennials are ever blooming, relevant people of all ages who know what’s happening in the world, stay current with technology and have friends of all ages”.
Increased longevity offers so many opportunities to be older and bolder. Compulsory retirement at a pre-determined age for most occupations, is a thing of the past in the developed world. We can remain in the workplace, change careers, and start new businesses in later life if we choose to – and many do! In reality, we can change direction and re-ignite our lives and lifestyles at any age – depending on our mindset. We can develop new routines, learn new skills, start new projects and hobbies, strengthen our relationships with family and friends, and extend ourselves.
Believing that a) life is full of possibilities, and b) that we learn from other people’s experiences, I began an incredible journey of my own. I randomly asked men and women living in New Zealand, over the age of 50, from all walks of life, to share their stories with me. During our conversations I captured the context of their earlier lives, their aspirations, plans and perspectives, their resilience in the face of adversity, and the choices they made that shaped their future. With their permission, a lifetime of wildly different experiences has been condensed into the short cameo stories that feature in Older and Bolder series of books (available from your favourite online bookstores).
The individuals you’ll meet in these books challenge the stereotype that advancing age narrows down the choices we make. Whatever their age or circumstances, the people I chatted with are expanding their horizons, moving out of their comfort zones, taking advantage of the opportunities around them, and creating their own reality. They show us that life is a continual adventure and we can change tempo and direction at any age if we choose to. Inspired by their example, so can we!
As new life stages emerge, they bring fresh opportunities, possibilities and exciting challenges for everyone. Accepting that we all age differently, the gift of healthier extended lifespans allows us to be older and bolder in later life. In fact, these decades can be the most creative, productive and enjoyable part of our lives – depending on our mindset!
What thought’s come to mind when you think ahead? What’s your mindset on ageing? Are you looking forward with excitement or apprehension?
Did you know?
It is predicted that one in six people will be aged 65 and over by 2050 World Population Ageing 2019: Highlights (un.org). In New Zealand it’s expected a fifth of the population will be aged 65 and over by 2034 Better Late Life – He Oranga Kaumtua 2019 to 2034 – Super Seniors (msd.govt.nz)