The New Senior Man: Exploring New Opportunities for Senior Men
The modern day has ushered in a new definition of retirement for senior men. Male baby boomers are facing an entirely different set of challenges in their retirement then their fathers and grandfathers faced before them. In the history of our nation, there are more people aged 65 years or older in the population today then ever before. However, the good news is that modern retirement means re-invention for senior men as they explore new opportunities and horizons. Authors and aging experts, Thelma Reese and Barbara Fleisher, provide inspiring stories of men from all walks of life as they retire in her book: The New Senior Man.
In 2017, retirement holds a whole new meaning for men. There are many reasons for this including longevity, improved health, and new cultural perspectives.
Above all, perhaps the biggest threat that retirement poses to modern men is a crisis of identity. To quote author Thelma Reese: “We found that for men more than women, identity is often tied so firmly to what one did, that who one is got lost. As these men’s lives will show, healthy, satisfying retirement can lead to finding answers to who and even why you are.”
Perhaps the biggest reason for this identity crisis is that men have been raised to be the masculine providers, leaders, and protectors. When faced with a challenge in their younger years they were told to “man up” and go forward. However, the familiar adage doesn’t apply to men in their retirement years so they are left feeling a little lost.
Max B. of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is a great example of the many men that share their stories in this book, and the common questions they all share for which this book has answers. He stated on page 82: “The fact that I’m not working is not a failure. For me, the biggest challenge is what I’m going to do for the next thirty years. For a third of your life you were building to become someone. The other third you did something, you worked, you built a family. Now my biggest problem is, what are my next goals? What am I going to do?”
The beauty of modern retirement is that men can find themselves and actually rediscover the very essence of who they are as they pull out of the rat race that characterized and fueled their younger years. Many men facing retirement ask how this can be accomplished. In their book, The New Senior Man, Thelma Reese and Barbara Fleisher masterfully answer this question utilizing her experience as an aging expert, author of The New Senior Woman: Reinventing the Years Beyond Mid-Life, and blogger at www.ElderChicks.com.
3 Groups of Men
In modern retirement, there are approximately 3 groups of men: the men who continue, expand, and further develop what they’ve always done, the men who discover new and absorbing fields of interests thus fulfilling many youthful dreams, and the men who find satisfaction and inspiration in the process of exploration as they volunteer, learn new skills, and try new activities. Men must identify their place in the retirement world in order to find satisfaction in rediscovering themselves as individuals.
Reinvention is the key to retirement. Alfred Stillman, one of many brave voices featured in The New Senior Man, advises on page 53: “My advice to anyone contemplating retirement? Don’t do it. If you don’t like what you do, reinvent yourself. It’s never too late.”
Yes, it is never too late. Hope is one of the major themes found in the many stories that comprise The New Senior Man. Plant the seed of hope in your retirement and start writing a new bucket list. What are some of the wishes and dreams that never came true because you were too busy? Now is the time to fulfill them! Perhaps the rat race of life has left you lost, and now is the time to remember and rediscover who you were in the beginning. Dust off some of those skills, interests, and passions of long ago. It is never too late to find yourself again by doing the things you love in life.
The Power of Positivity
Different men find different ways to play the game of life in retirement. Some men are meanderers. They continue with the familiar path, but they find different avenues to the same destination. The meanderers are too busy to be bored. Some men enjoy their relaxation and leisure while others abandon their old interests entirely in pursuit of new goals. There is no right or wrong way to play the game, but it is helpful to know where your boundaries are in retirement.
Oliver Franklin has some more great advice for retired men on page 102, and he is a tremendous example of a positive attitude in retirement. “If you’re contemplating retirement, think of it as turning the page over for a new chapter. And think of whatever your passion is. You cannot not be engaged. You stand a better chance of living longer and happier if you’re a social animal. Figure out what you can do to make a difference for the better.”
Ageism is an unfortunate phenomenon that both men and women must face at some point in their lifetime. For men, this may prove to be more difficult, but there is a healthy way to approach this transition. In order to age gracefully, men must acknowledge their age and refuse to be defined by their age at the same time. A positive attitude and approach will take you far.
The personal stories in Thelma Reese’s book, The New Senior Man, reveal that men are redefining retirement in a multitude of different ways. These men offer a powerful testimony to the fact that for Baby Boomers, retirement isn’t about exile. Instead for these men, retirement means freedom, self-reinvention, and a world of new experiences to discover. I speak for the younger generation when I say that we need to respect the retired men in our life and give them extra love and attention. As men they need our belief in them now more then ever.
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