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How golden will your golden years be? | Healthy Living
As they enter retirement age, baby boomers are once again at the center of the attention of marketers and industry. Aging has never been so much fun and so full of promise, it seems.
Take, for example, the movie “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,” which turned out to be one of the longest-running box office hits this year. In it, a group of retirees from England goes off to India to start a new life that appears to be easier and more enjoyable than what they’ve left behind. There is affordable healthcare, cheap housing, and even job opportunities.
Unlike for its forbearers, retirement for this generation — so we are told — is a new beginning rather than a move closer to the end. Instead of fading away, this is the time to finally come into one’s own.
“Due to longer life spans, economic uncertainty, and the mass rejection of yesterday’s model of old age, yesterday’s model of retirement is being transformed,” wrote the two lifestyle gurus and authors of “Power Years,” Ken Dychtwald and Daniel J. Kadlec. “Instead of viewing the years ahead as a time of decline, retreat, and withdrawal, we are coming to see this as a terrific new opportunity to reevaluate our lives, consider new options, and chart new courses.”
Americans are especially receptive for messages like these. The idea that our best days are always ahead of us is an important part of our fabric, both individually and as a nation. But is all this actually achievable or just wishful thinking?
A much different, one might say, pessimistic, take on aging comes from Susan Jacoby, author of “Never Say Die – The Myth and Marketing of the New Old Age.” Jacoby agrees that baby boomers have many advantages that were unheard of in the past.
“Many old people today — if they are in sound financial shape, if they are in reasonably good health, and if they possess functioning brains — can explore an array of possibilities that did not exist even a generation ago.” However, she continues, “at some point, nearly every baby boomer will have to cope with the shattering of vanity and self-delusion about the capacity to remain, as the song goes, “forever young.”
To be sure, there is nothing wrong with trying one’s utmost to stay physically fit, mentally sharp, socially engaged and curious about the world. But we must also remain realistic about our natural limitations. It is undoubtedly true that taking care of our well-being is equally important at every stage in life. So, let’s not wait until it’s almost too late, let’s make life as good as it can be right now.
Timi Gustafson R.D. is a clinical dietitian and author. For more visit timigustafson.com