12 Apr 2018

The freedom years - longer healthier lives

Let’s replace the ‘R’ word (retirement) and the negative outmoded beliefs that go with it. A better way to describe this extended life stage is the ‘F’ word (freedom).

So here are five freedoms of ageing *.

Freedom to continue working - or not to work - or something in between. Transition pathways offer more options for the next life stage like flexible hours, phased retirement, part-time or freelance work. As demands for skilled workers keep growing this trend will continue. 

Freedom to keep learning - to stay mentally alert and keep up to date. Most of us have already become lifelong learners. Continuous learners stay vital and resilient for longer. This approach helps mature agers keep up with digital technology and intergenerational learning can strengthen work teams.  

Freedom to choose where and how we live. Innovative solutions are opening up catering for different life stage dynamics – living solo, empty nesters, and community shared facilities. From downsizing, to moving to a more rural (or more cosmopolitan) lifestyle, to staying close to social connections or selling up and going on the road in a campervan.

Freedom to stay healthy and active. There is more demand for products and services to keep us healthy - mentally, physically and socially. Joining a gym, yoga class, walking group, cooking class or taking health supplements. New technologies are creating more opportunities to retain independence as we age.

Freedom to pursue happiness and rediscover our true purpose – to become the person we’ve always wanted to be. Taking a gap year to decide on your next life stage, becoming a silver entrepreneur, travelling and exploring new places, spending more time with family and friends or volunteering and giving back to the community.

Our greatest freedom is rediscovering our true selves.

We no longer need to worry about what others think and fit into tightly defined roles. We can be courageous and try new things. No need to be the best at everything we do. Instead we can revel in exploring new places, new experiences and new friendships and strengthen the bonds with those we are closest to with the gift of extended lives.

These are indeed the freedom years ...

Adapted from 4 freedoms of aging in ‘Disrupt Aging’ by Jo Ann Jenkins


Mary Somervell

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