The 1920 American Census reported the average life expectancy was 54 years old. Today, in 2004, the picture has changed completely as the "Age Wave" of baby boomers born between 1946 and l964 make up almost 80 million of us. Experts predict that in six years (2010), there will be 90 million people 50-plus.
Experts predict that we all have the potential to live a healthy and active life to 100 and beyond if we avoid rather than survive disease. The 2000 Census reported over 72,000 centenarians. Some of the statistics the Society of Certified Senior Advisors mentions to enhance your opportunity to live to a ripe old age are:
*Be a natural stress shedder whenever possible.
*Maintain the same weight during your adult years.
*Enjoy a full day of activities and hobbies each day.
*Maintain a strong social life rather than being a loner.
*Laugh often and find humor in your life.
*Smoke and drink alcohol minimally.
Recently, I attended a conference about "Different Approaches and Aspects of Successful Aging." The audience was packed with social workers, nurses, health care workers and students studying gerontology---all looking to help their older clients enjoy life, live longer, age better and be physically and mentally fit. This is just one of hundreds of local and national conferences now educating professionals on the many different and challenging issues of aging.
Once upon a time, the media ignored the 50-plus population. Today, as baby boomers become the majority, there are several hundred thousand websites devoted to boomers through seniors. Over 25 million fifty-plus internet users are currently avid and active web surfers. They e-mail, research information and purchase everything from gifts for their children and grandchildren to printing new business cards for their second or third careers.
Newspaper advertisements and news stories now target us more than ever---even though the majority emphasize health issues, illness, medicines, cosmetic surgery and retiring with enough money to live out our days. And maybe some day, more movies will feature more mature themes and actors. It's difficult enough understanding the lingo and activities of the 20-something generation!
Most of us think of ourselves at least 15 years younger than our chronological years. We want to be as independent as we are able. We want to concentrate on the positive, not the negative. We want to find things to laugh about rather than to be depressed or sad. We want to find new hobbies, travel, learn more about everything from history to stock market investing, maintain close and meaningful relationships with family and friends, be active mentally and physically, and enjoy the rest of our lives.
That is what I call "Successful Aging."
Sharon Sultan Cutler is a Certified Senior Advisor as well as creator of www.MatureResource.org. This site features both resources and information for baby boomers through seniors, including information on long distance caregiving, financial and legal planning,retirement and relocation, travel, books, self-help, 50-plus dating as well as constantly updated news stories.