he def­i­ni­tion of the word “se­nior” is the sub­ject of many dis­cus­sions nowa­days. While some peo­ple de­scribe any­one over the age of 50 as be­ing part of this pop­u­la­tion group, oth­ers sug­gest that the word “se­nior” should be ad­justed to re­flect mod­ern stan­dards of life ex­pectancy.

The ques­tion is: when do we be­come old? In 1920, the av­er­age life ex­pectancy was 60 years. To­day, many of us can hope to live un­til our eight­i­eth birthdays or even longer. What we used to re­fer to as “the golden years” of life ap­plies dif­fer­ently now; some peo­ple be­lieve that the term suits only those older than 65 or even 75.

Be­cause we are liv­ing longer, we must in­evitably work longer. “Free­dom 55” re­tire­ment plans now have to wait ten years, be­cause peo­ple need to ac­cu­mu­late enough in­come to last these ex­tra 20 years of life. Some folks are lucky; they have jobs that al­low them to stay in­tel­lec­tu­ally stim­u­lated, while oth­ers find it a bur­den to keep plug­ging away un­til age 65. For all, the big chal­lenge is to stay open to new ideas so as not to be sur­passed by the dy­namism of younger peo­ple.

Men­tal health plays as im­por­tant a role as phys­i­cal health in liv­ing to a ripe old age. Nev­er­the­less, med­i­ca­tions, the loss of a loved one, or a lack of in­tel­lec­tual stim­u­la­tion af­ter re­tire­ment can make it dif­fi­cult to feel young and vi­tal. That means it’s im­por­tant for ev­ery­one en­ter­ing late adult­hood to find stim­u­lat­ing in­tel­lec­tual and so­cial en­vi­ro­ments that will keep life in­ter­est­ing!

2011, the first of the Baby Boom gen­er­a­tion will turn 65. That means many more peo­ple will be fac­ing re­tire­ment age and mov­ing into their golden years.

It used to be that peo­ple aged 65 and older were au­to­mat­i­cally clas­si­fied as se­niors be­cause that was the age at which most peo­ple re­tired. To­day, with the ad­vances in med­i­cal care and the in­crease in life ex­pectancy, not all peo­ple over age 65 want to be called se­niors. They are ac­tive and can take care of them­selves; many con­tinue to work or be­gin a sec­ond ca­reer later in life.

Be­fore they reached re­tire­ment age, se­niors spent most of their time es­tab­lish­ing a house­hold, work­ing and car­ing for chil­dren. Once re­tire­ment ar­rives, many do not know what to do with their time. There are so many hob­bies and ac­tiv­i­ties that se­niors can get in­volved with if only a lit­tle re­search is done --and most don't cost much money. From sport­ing ac­tiv­i­ties to clubs to vol­un­teer work to per­sonal crafts, the list of op­tions is end­less, and it will likely take a life­time to get ev­ery­thing done. A quick search on the In­ter­net can yield a host of op­tions and give in­di­vid­u­als con­tact in­for­ma­tion for lo­cal groups and meet­ings that take place in the area. Check out a com­mu­nity col­lege for con­tin­u­ing ed­u­ca­tion classes and op­por­tu­ni­ties for dis­counted cour­ses.

Be­fore we feel old, it is im­por­tant to find phys­i­cal and so­cial ac­tiv­i­ties that in­ter­est us.

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