A baby boomer’s guide


Dixie, Almost 73

In the words of Dr.Seuss, “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”

January 5, 2017, I’ll celebrate my 73rd birthday. I’ve always been very up front with my age and more than a little surprised about it myself. Frankly, I’m surrounded by men and women, in my “active adult community of 55+,” who are celebrating life, friends and activities with gusto. That’s why we live here. The “community aspect” keeps us validated and accountable.

Believe me, we all have out share of “bumps” in life; strokes, diseases, joint replacements, personal tragedies, heart issues, loss of loved ones but the prevailing theme is to live life to the fullest and to age positively.

Having said that, Pam, my best friend of 40+ years, and I are writing a guide for those who are retired, contemplating retirement or are semi-retired, “A Baby Boomer’s Non-Financial Guide to Retirement…50 Tips for Freedom.”

Additionally, we ramped up our learning curve and started a blog, richlyaged.com, to address some of the issues we’ve discovered that stand in the way of aging positively.

Books like your 70 Candles! and blogs like this one provide a valuable resource to the millions of retirees that will join us in the coming years. It’s been said that most people plan their two-week vacations better than they plan the non-financial part of retirement. Your book and your blog have served as a catalyst for our current endeavors. Keep up the great work!

Posted in 70candles, Goals ahead, Looking ahead, Our bodies, our health, Resilience, What do we do with our time?, Where to live, Work life and retirement | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Where shall we live next?

‘Where to live next’ is a concern we hear often in our 70Candles! Gatherings.  Here’s what we posted on Huff/Post50, addressing that important topic.

Sooner or later, the family house becomes too big, too expensive to maintain, and its stairs become a challenge. Women, especially if they are on their own, have to determine the right time to move and where to live next — whether to live alone, join a community of age-mates, or move in with children or other relatives or settle near them. There are considerations about old friends and familiar places that may be left behind. In our 70Candles conversation groups and at 70Candles, we’ve seen that the important question of living arrangements weighs on the minds of women as they get older.

Here are some of the many choices now available.


Studies suggest that as many as 90 percent of Americans 65 or older prefer to stay in their own homes indefinitely. They feel comfortable in familiar surroundings, they know their neighbors, they treasure friendships and neighborhood ties that have endured for decades.


Many retirees are drawn back to cities where public transportation, walkability, and abundant services are offered. In New York and Philadelphia, women in 70Candles conversation groups described selling the home where they raised their families, and moving back to “the city.” In response to the unprecedented increases in their aging populations, many American cities have started to make senior-friendly changes to their urban landscape.


Some families prepare well ahead for incorporating a grandma into their homes. Some build a “mother-in-law apartment” onto the house, retrofit a garage, or have a separate floor allocated for a grandparent’s residence. When this works well, grandparents can have the pleasures of being near grandchildren as they grow, the children can profit from knowing their grandparents more intimately, and their parents can be available if the elder needs assistance.


Women on their own are experimenting with home sharing in cities across the country. Several women purchase a large home together, work out legal, financial, and social sharing protocols to form a small community, while reducing their individual living expenses. There is even an on-line matching service for women — Roommates4Boomers — that analyzes participants’ questionnaires to suggest compatible living companions.

RETIREMENT COMMUNITIES — Various types exist around the country


Co-housing is a model for adults 50 or older, brought to the States from Denmark by architects McCamant and Durrett. It is a collaborative venture wherein the residents participate in designing and operating their own neighborhoods. The co-housing model harkens back to communes of the 60’s, with the focus on both individuality and interdependence.

Independent Living

Across the country, “independent living” or “senior living” facilities might appear as multi-story apartment buildings, as sprawling condominiums, or as homes on golf courses. Whether singular structures or entire villages, these planned communities offer an array of amenities, activities, and services for a newer, more energetic senior generation.

Other Independent living arrangements, where activities are not typically provided, are referred to as senior housing, senior homes, or senior apartments. In a wide range of settings from basic apartment houses to upscale resort-like accommodations, seniors can live as independently as possible, within a community of peers, knowing that if support services are not available, they can acquire them on their own, when and if they are needed.

Assisted Living

For those who need assistance with daily care, Assisted Living apartments and, more recently, small Assisted Living boarding homes may be the right fit. Here, nurse aids or technicians can offer help with activities of daily living, including meals, dressing, toileting, and medication. Transportation is available for group outings and recreational purposes. Many assisted living facilities are embedded in Continuing Care Communities where step-down or step-up possibilities exist as health conditions dictate.

Long-Term Care

Even the once-dreaded nursing home is undergoing evolutionary changes. The Eden Alternative, conceived of by geriatrician Dr. William Thomas to ward off the suffering he saw caused by loneliness, helplessness, and boredom, incorporates nature, animals, children, and increased human interactions, into the traditional nursing home setting.

His newer model, The Green House Project, advances the comfort and humanizes the experience further. It proposes “small intentional communities for groups of elders and staff, to focus on living full and vibrant lives.” There are no standard schedules to follow, and no more than 12 “elders” live in each home. Each has a private room with bath near a commons area that includes a kitchen, living room, and large communal dining table.

These choices depend on the health, financial means, and lifestyle choices of both the aging person and her or his family.

Where do you picture yourself living as you age?
Do any of these choices see appealing?
Do you have another vision?
We’d love to hear your views.

Excerpted from the book 70Candles! Women Thriving in Their 8th Decade by Jane Giddan and Ellen Cole. Taosinstitute.net/70Candles


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Old Myths: Confronting Aging and Ageism at the Brooklyn Historical Society

The Brooklyn Historical Society hosted a panel discussion on November 29, 2016 on Aging and Ageism, bringing together a distinguished panel that included Ashton Applewhite, author of the book, This Chair Rocks, John Leland of the New York Times, Dr. Veronica LoFaso, Director of Geriatric Medical Education at New York – Presbyterian Hospital/Weil Cornell Medical Center, and our own Dr. Ellen Cole, co-creator of 70Candles! Paula Span of the New York Times was the moderator.
Although it was a very rainy New York evening, the enthusiastic cross-generational audience filled the auditorium. At question time, many hands were raised. There was an excitement in the air—perhaps signifying the realization that by 2020, 35 percent of the population will be age 50 or older. Or that the first of the baby boomers turn 70 this year, and they are a force to be reckoned with.
Ellen, the oldest panel member at age 75, shared several of her personal experiences with ageism. In a recent medical visit for strep throat, for example, the intake nurse assumed she was retired. “Absolutely not,” she replied, for she continues to work full-time as a psychology professor, feels at the top of her game, and, at least right now, hasn’t the slightest interest in cutting back. And the fact is that nearly 20 percent of Americans 65 and older are now working, according to the latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. For 75-year-olds, labor-force participation has risen from 9% in 2000 to 14% today. Part of this increase is likely due to financial concerns, but certainly part to what has been called “the increased propensity to work.”
Other examples were given, in particular, of microaggressions of ageism—things people say and do, often with no intent to be disrespectful, that imply a bias against older people and can cause distress and hurt. Panelists agreed, for example, that “adorable,” “cute,” and “sweetheart,” are not terms of respect and may be condescending and infantilizing when used to describe older adults. A prime time for unwitting insults, they agreed, is at birthdays. It is not a compliment to describe an older person as “80 years young,” or to say, often enthusiastically, “Wow, you don’t look that old,” or “Did you just turn 39 (wink, wink)?” Ellen recalled, for example, hearing on the radio that Florence Henderson, the “upbeat Mom of ‘The Brady Bunch,’ died on Nov. 25, 2016 dies at 82 years young.”
One panel member opposed the idea of publications, for example newspaper stories, mentioning the age of authors. Ellen and others felt otherwise. They believe there is no reason not to be proud of being whatever age you are. What better way to dispel myths surrounding old than to be open rather than secretive or coy about the number of years one has lived. An audience member said she did not want prospective employers to know her age, fearing she wouldn’t be hired (in spite of anti-discrimination law). The panel agreed this is a reality, but until old people speak up about their age, this prejudice is unlikely to change. Ellen advised, “Old people, come out of the closet.”
There was a lively conversation about current trends for later-age living arrangements, including aging-in-place, a variety of innovative multigenerational living situations (e.g., college students being offered free room and board in an assisted living community), and so on. One panelist made the compelling point that it is often younger people devising what they think would be best for the elders. To him that seemed backwards. First ask the elders what they want! The panel agreed there is no cookie-cutter answer to what works best for everyone.
Other discussion topics included end-of-life issues including the current national debate about medical aid in dying, caregiving, and elder abuse. The conversation ended after an hour and a half, as advertised, but all agreed there was much, much more to say. Ellen’s take-home message from this panel was this: “The Brooklyn Historical Society organized an exceptionally important and successful event. Let’s not stop here.”

70Candles! Women Thriving in Their 8th Decade by Jane Giddan and Ellen Cole is available from Taos Institute Publications, taosinstitue.net/70Candles.
70Candles! Gatherings-A Leader’s Guide by Jane Giddan and Ellen Cole is at Amazon.com.


Posted in 70candles, Ageism anecdotes, Read Stories | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

News flash!

Ellen Cole of 70Candles! will be speaking at the Brooklyn Historical Society’s distinguished panel on aging.

If you’re in the area, come on over!

Old Myths: Confronting Aging and Ageism
Tue, Nov 29, 6:30 pm
$10/$5 for BHS and G-W Members

With Baby Boomers aging, a new generation is confronted with the misconceptions older people face. Join Ashton Applewhite of This Chair Rocks, Ellen Cole, co-creator of 70 Candles, John Leland of The New York Times, and Dr. Veronica LoFaso, Director of Geriatric Medical Education at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, for a discussion about positive aging. Paula Span, “New Old Age” columnist for The New York Times, moderates.







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Hip replacement for my 94-year-old dad

Regine,  Age 68

I posted some time ago about aging, and mentioned my blog serimuse.blogspot.ca. I’ve posted a recent experience there for November about going through my 94 year old father’s hip replacement surgery. I thought I’d share this because many of us still have aging parents living and even as we age and go through our personal difficulties, we also have parents to take care of. It can be very emotionally draining. And it’s important to find ways to share our experiences, and also to take care of ourselves. So now that my dad is back in long term care, I’m working on my book again, reading, going for walks,

Posted in 70candles, Caretaking, Family matters, Men aging, Our bodies, our health, Stories | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

sad 70

Anonymous,  Age 70

don’t. know why I’m. here
sad money depressed
not enough money to live on. nice looking for age so common.  I look damned good body and all. redhead and still hot.

Posted in 70candles, About turning 70, Our bodies, our health | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Post election blues

We’ve just endured a political season that stirred up anger and hatred in this nation that might not subside for quite some time.

As we try to recover our equilibrium, it helps to recognize what we gained…especially as women.

Although she didn’t make it to the presidency, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote and demonstrated to us and to our children and grandchildren that yes, a women might well lead this country one day. On the threshold of her 8th decade, Hillary Clinton had the will, the knowledge, and the talent, and felt ready to take on the enormous job of President of the United States of America.

Our daughters and granddaughters can know that anything is possible for women in the years ahead — gender and age no longer barriers to success.


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Our Leader’s Guide now available!

We’re happy to report that in answer to your requests, we have created a new booklet, 70Candles! Gatherings–A Leader’s Guide. It is now available in print at Amazon.com.

We designed it as an aid for those ready to start a 70Candles! discussion group in their geographic area. The Guide contains tips for organizing a gathering of women, and material for conducting an interesting, interactive, 1 1/2 hour group conversation about the joys and challenges of being this age, in this era of extended longevity.

We hope you’ll let us know what you think of it.

Jane and Ellen

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Moving to Venice

Gloria, Soon to be 74

Last year, at age 73, I moved alone to Venice, Florida. Due to an unexpected divorce and a previous down payment on a new home in Florida, I found myself in a new town with one friend, who is 83. I had wintered in Venice with my then husband for several years, and wanted to continue to spend part of the year

Now I am living in Venice full-time.
I left behind in Ohio my two daughters and two granddaughters, plus their husbands.

As I began to settle in, I joined a church and the church choir, I joined the local art center and began taking a water color class, I joined a water aerobics class and a book club. These were all activities I had enjoyed in Ohio. Of course, there I had long time friends with me. Here, I struggle to retain the names of my new friends.

Fortunately, my neighbors are also new to their homes as the area is just being built. I have found them very friendly, helpful when I need an extra hand and fun to be with. We are a multi age community, but my near neighbors are mainly late 50s and up. We have many social events and I join in fully, though most are couples.

The weather has been a boon to my arthritis, and I have no joint pain here. My new friendships, the weather, time to read and paint at my leisure are plusses. Face timing my granddaughters frequently, having calls and visits from friends and relatives has eased the loneliness. But I believe my own desire to be happy, to dwell on the sunshine and the beach, and to stay healthy have been my strongest support. I have two chronic diseases, but have found good physicians and my health has improved since moving.

Challenges exist, but my faith sustains me, and the fact that 2 active choir members are 91 encourages me.

Posted in 70candles, Family matters, Grandparenting, Networking, Resilience, What do we do with our time?, Where to live | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments


Esther, Age 69

I shall be 70 in a few months. I’ve read that i shall not be really old but instead “oldish!”

I am single, a retired high school teacher, have no immediate family but a fabulous group of close friends. My 70th birthday has been planned around these close friends. We shall be meeting at the Ritz Carlton in Sarasota, Florida where I have reserved marina view suites for us. We shall be spending an entire week in this gorgeous resort and beautiful city which offers us renowned beaches, culture and of course the circus. I have bought stunning outfits for this birthday. Am excited to be able to share this special birthday with close friends in this great style. I’ve been told that I am too young to be old!

Posted in 70 from other perspectives: looking forward and looking back, 70candles, About turning 70, Networking | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments