“The real question is, what does it mean to live to full effect? How do you know if you are fulfilling your time, or wasting it?”
These days, all my sixtysomething friends seem to be taking care of aging parents. Too many — most of them male — are fighting serious health issues of their own. They are tough old boots, all of them.
With the help of our knowledge bank, you can choose for variations in your new neighborhood by:
But to zero in on the best place for you you’ll have to visit and schedule time to explore potential new homes in a region.
The final installment in a 9-part Life Stage series:
Part Two: Failing at Growing Up
Part Three: Love, Marriage, Baby Carriage, or …
Part Four: Crisis and Pivots for 28 -32 Year Olds
Part Five: Making It – Ages 30 – 38
Part Seven: Renewal or Resignation in Your Mid-40s
Part Eight: 55 Year Olds- Millennials and Empty Nests
So there’s this generation that used to be all that.
The one born between 1946, beginning nine months after World War II ended and 1964 more or less.
Look it up, but the number stuck in my brain is about 75 or 78 million.
They used to dominate all those demographic lifestyle segments advertising executives drooled over.
They were the Millennials of their time.
A time so long ago …
Chris Erskine. Meanwhile, many of my friends are turning 60, and though I have a long way to go till I reach that particular benchmark (six months), witnessing so many milestones at once can really take a toll on a fella.
“You’re turning 60?” I always tell my friends.
“That’s just so great!!!”
Integrity or Despair
Erik Erikson’s last and eighth developmental stage is called Maturity.
Approximate Age: Maturity ( 65 – death)
Significant Relationship: Mankind, my kind
Existential Question: Is it okay to have been me?
Examples: Reflection on life
Psychosocial Crisis: Integrity vs. Despair
A lot of stuff comes with approaching the traditional retirement age.
That age when Erskine’s generation viewed their parents living their second half of life – the Golden Years – with a pension, receiving monthly social security checks and picking up divots on a par five in Sarasota, Florida as boring.
But, now not so much.
And tomorrow, probably not at all.
Entering Act III with Doctors and Adult Kids
Turning sixty is a weird time, Erskine says, for him and his friends.
A time when they look back to times they spent when they were younger.
A time when their kids were younger.
“I sometimes wish our kids were all 10 again, how that period was a holiday season all its own; it was magical, finite and flew by too fast.”
A time when the kids needed coaching and rough housing.
A time when the parents had to remind them about chores and unfinished homework.
Now things are just different.
Erskine. “Truth is, I find this a weird time for me and my buddies.
Most of our children are now adults, working for tyrants, finding their way.
That’s just how the real world works.”
Erskine’s friend puts what’s different into perspective for him – like a three act screen play.
Act I ends with college graduation.
Act II ends with the empty nest.
“Act III,” my buddy Siskin calls it.
So now, most of us are entering Act III.
Ask any writer, Act II is the toughest.
The middle of any story meanders, drifts, struggles and is often the death of art itself.”
Wisdom and Life Acceptance
Erskine’s writes about what comes with the Act III territory.
Coming to grips with what it means when you’ve reached the last chapter of your life.
When retirement is approaching or has already taken place.
Stories about “Is it okay to have been me?”
And other reflections on life.
Examples of leaving the second half of adulthood and embarking on maturity.
Erikson (at least the Wikipedia version) describes what happens.
“Ego-integrity means the acceptance of life in its fullness: the victories and the defeats, what was accomplished and what was not accomplished.
Wisdom is the result of successfully accomplishing this final developmental task.
Wisdom is defined as “informed and detached concern for life itself in the face of death itself.””
Erskine reflects on a book review, a memoire written about turning 60.
Erskine. “Like a pro athlete just retired, he seems pretty convinced that most of life’s good times are behind him.
Likewise, there is very little chirpy, New Age navel-gazing to his writing.
His mind is keen and active, and his pages are full of fine references to poets and artists who he knows also dealt with the minefield of late middle age.”
Erskine says the book takes on topics like his love life, physical changes, marriage struggles with, family relations brother and more.
“He speaks of his existential crises:
“The real question is, what does it mean to live to full effect?
How do you know if you are fulfilling your time, or wasting it?”
Fulfillment or Despair, Depression and Hopelessness
As we grow older and become senior citizens, according to Erikson’s theory, we tend to slow down our productivity and explore life as a retired person.
It is during this time through retrospection that we look back to contemplate our accomplishments and are able to develop integrity if we see ourselves as leading a successful life.
If so we develop feelings of contentment and integrity if we believe we have led a happy, productive life.
But if we see our life as unproductive, or feel that we did not accomplish our life goals, we become dissatisfied with life and develop despair, often leading to depression and hopelessness.
Instead of contentment, we may instead develop a pervasive sense of despair when we recall a life of disappointments and unachieved goals.
This stage can occur out of the sequence when an individual feels they are near the end of their life (such as when receiving a terminal disease diagnosis).
Stage 4 Cancer
Erskine. “Well, the doctors had said “cancer, Stage 4,” so I suppose Posh was a little desperate.
I was there to help, and eager as a dumb puppy.
I didn’t feel responsible for her cancer, just every other challenge in her life: the plain little ranch house, the minivan with the “check-engine” light aglow, the dryer that kept scorching the shirts.
Most of all, a topsy-turvy marriage.”
Like taking on the day in and day out responsibilities of caring for an aging parent Erskine’s normal routine dramatically changed.
And he was the funny one.
Churning out humorous weekly syndicated essays about what it was like living in the Los Angeles suburbs with four children during his own middle age years.
“Bad as all that was, she had cancer, which is worse than about anything else that can ever happen.
How could I gripe about the missing tax records — or anything — when she was enduring injections, transfusions, lab tests, fatigue, nausea and hair loss?
A good day was one where they didn’t poke her with a 4-inch needle.”
Traditional retirement age used to be 65, but not so much any more.
So depending upon your situation, it may be easier to start the countdown process five years before you expect to retire.
Will it be 70 or 75 or 55?
These recommendations will still hold up.
You pick the time when you want retirement to start and work backwards to the time left.
Seriously, do this.
You know you put a lot of time and effort into planning your annual vacations.
So, put in the same time and energy into a project that protects your nest egg and well-being with piece of mind.
Erskine. “Meanwhile, my friends and I are at a more bittersweet stage, with five or so years left in our careers.
Every conversation has started to include talk of doctors.
Any car we buy might be our last.”
Time Left Before Retiring – Five Years
Take a stab at answering The Big Question: Will you have saved enough to retire in five years?
Erskine. “Which one of you handles the finances?” the advisor asked.
From Posh, a sideways glance.
“Money does,” Posh said.
“Who’s Money? the advisor asked.
“We call my husband ‘Money,'” Posh explained, “but he’s sooooo not.”
How you and your spouse wish to spend time in retirement.
Take an inventory of your past and current interests, hobbies and activities.
One of the mentors in our Executive MBA program told me he wrote a book and set up his consulting practice, because so much golf and so much traveling didn’t cut it any more.
Make sure you have a will, an appointed power-of-attorney, health-care directives and an estate plan.
Otherwise, someone else will be calling the shots and siphoning off your hard-earned savings.
Time Left Before Retiring – Four Years
Now, that wasn’t so hard, was it?
Start thinking about Social Security. Talk to your financial advisor. Check out all the tools and resources on the Social Security Administration’s website.
Start exploring your ideas.
Erskine. “Oh, I jest because after living here for nearly 30 years, I love L.A. and its open minds … its empty minds, and every now and then, its very brilliant minds.
In L.A., you’ll run across the smartest people you’ll ever meet, and they’ll probably be driving for Uber.
Still, it is a magnificent and inspiring place — America’s shining city on a hill.”
For active Millennials, Gen-Xers, Baby Boomers, and well everyone else living in California the high cost of living, taxes and congested living conditions in and around Los Angeles pushes “Golden Staters” like Erskine to actively consider moving.
“You’d have to move to Monaco to find mountains this close to beaches, or wild animals this close to ingénues.
In the foothills, we keep black bears as pets.”
Potential outbound movers need to draw up a bucket list of best places that offsets living near the Pacific Ocean and local mountains.
Start with the no- or low-tax states and carefully weigh the tradeoffs.
Erskine’s advice for potential inbound vacationers-turned-residents?
“If you live right, most of the time you will have seawater in your hair.
Most of the year, your bare feet will have a leathery bottom, as if it is always summer.
All that “endless summer” stuff comes from the ’50s and ’60s.
The bohemian vibe from that time is slipping away, quashed by gentrification and surprisingly long work weeks.”
If you’re considering relocating, research the communities you’re interested in.
Time Left Before Retiring – Three Years
If you plan to relocate, start visiting communities on your short bucket list.
Don’t have a short list yet?
Take a look at these western towns with seven 65+ lifestyles that might just get your started:
California: Palm Desert, Eureka, Long Beach, Seal Beach
New Mexico: Taos
Seven Lifestyle Profiles: 65+
Singles and Couples: Wireless Resorters, High Country Eagles and Permanent Temporaries.
55M4T4, Golden Ponds – WRDE Distant Exurbans (Elgin, AZ)
High Country Eagles
60M4C3, Park Bench Seniors – HCESTB Small Town Borders (Palm Desert, CA)
57M4T4 Old Milltown – HCERE Rustic Eagles (Taos, NM)
58M4T4, Back Country Folks – HCERE Rustic Eagles (Whitefish, MT)
62M4C3, Hometown Retired – PTTC The Cutters (Eureka, CA)
59M4U3, Urban Elders – PTUT Urban Trapped (Long Beach, CA)
61M4U3, City Roots – PTUT Urban Trapped (Seal Beach, CA)
Request an estimate of any pension or retiree medical benefits you are eligible to receive from your employer.
Get educated about Medicare.
You won’t want to be penalized for signing up for basic coverage when you were supposed to, but didn’t.
Find out what’s covered and what isn’t.
Investigate all those supplemental plans you’ll need if you want vision or dental care.
Realize that you’ll have one plan while your spouse will have another.
Time Left Before Retiring – One Year
Wait, where did the time go, right?
If you plan to start a business, draw up a detailed business plan.
Check out the 10 step process at the Small Business Administration (SBA) to get you started.
Consider all your ‘Preneurial options weighing the risks and rewards and the pros and cons before you commit your hard-earned nest egg to the vagaries of being in business for yourself.
If you want to work, check the listings at websites including RetiredBrains.com, RetirementJobs.com and SeniorJobBank.org
Figure out how to convert your savings into a reliable stream of lifelong income.
Get a final estimate of benefits from your employer.
Don’t put it off too long or you might conveniently forget about it.
Forgetting Why You Entered the Room
Chris Erskine. “This week marks 60 laps around the sun for me.
Sixty is pretty sexy, of course.
Sixty is AARP discounts, cruise ships and cholesterol tests.
Sixty is forgetting why you entered the room, the number of that first baseman, the name of that girl you worshiped back in high school.
The whole thing started 15-plus years ago, after our sons and daughters aged out of youth sports.”
Aging Parents and Their Own Health Issues
Chris Erskine. “Eric dodged serious cancer and has rebounded well.
Paul had a relapse of his cancer and with gallows humor kids about a Viking funeral on a flaming raft in Jennifer Aniston’s pool.
Posh continues her fight, as does a family friend, LP, who used to coach with me long ago.
Not far from those thoughts are recollections of another great pal, Rhymer, who died five years ago.
At 51, he was just a baby.
“Focus on the good,” Rhymer always said, even in the times when we both had to squint to find the good.”
Maybe, just maybe, all you can really do is to find your own path.
Live. Love. Work. Play. Invest. Leave a Legacy.