I am sitting here, listening to the fan whir. Ray is upstairs. Frankie is curled up in a chair nearby, asleep. Cordelia must be in the other room. It is quiet here save for the occasional car outside and the whir of that oscillating fan.
My rear-end is sore from sitting so much today. I have tackled lots of chores that I do not love. Doing my billing for my time with students, answering emails, sending out reminders for meetings. I have absolutely nothing worth writing about tonight. I am tired and want to get up and move rather than sit any longer in front of this computer screen. But I also want to honor my commitment to my 20 minutes a day of writing so here I sit.
I am helping one student with her Master’s thesis in Clinical Psychology. We are researching the topic of woman and aging. We met today for two hours to work on her proposal. I’m learning all sorts of interesting things in the process of the research. Did you know that in 1950, the average life span was 68-years-old? Now, it is 79 for men and women and by 2020, it will be around 83 for women and 79 for men. The age gap between men and women’s life expectancies is also narrowing. That is good for men and for women, too, since that means there will be more men around.
One of the most interesting parts of the research we’ve been doing is the idea of the Third Age, which is after the kids are gone and retirement is either coming or already happened. With greater life expectancy, this period of time can be as much as 20 to 30 years before the Fourth Age hits, which is decline. Researchers are saying that we must start thinking differently about aging since this Third Age can be a wonderfully fulfilling period. We have to work to shift our thinking from declining to thriving. Often once kids are grown and retirement is in place, life gets much simpler, leaving room for all those activities you’ve always wanted to do, but just didn’t have the time. This can mean living a whole extra life beginning in your mid-50s and going forward.
In my case, my mother finished her Ph.D. at 53 and went on to have a whole new career for the next 29 years. My father died and she had another partner for those 29 years as well. I watched her life blossom during her Third Age. I would like to hope I can have an equally exciting post-60 period. Of course, I’d prefer for Ray to stay very healthy so we can enjoy these upcoming years together.
Okay, on that note, I’ll close. Let me know how you’re envisioning your Third Age, if you’re in that age group. I’d love to hear.
I’ll be checking back in again tomorrow.