Curious about what’s changed

Jane & Ellen,

I’m writing because I’m curious about what you think has changed in the almost 10 years since you turned 70. Even though there’s no fixed lines in the sand for some of these trends, it seems the 70Candles audience were among the first cohort of women who had worked and retired from a career or paid employment in a large number.

I’m turning 69 this week and as I approach the 70’s, the eighth decade, I’m wondering what might have changed, or what looking back from the eighties, women might have done differently. By my calculation, the first wave of Baby Boomer women reaching 70 started a couple of years ago.

I’m still working full-time and I enjoy my work. If I’m given the opportunity to keep working in my current position, I likely will. From what I’ve read of the 70Candles book, it seems a few of the women in your audience did retire and then went back to work, often by desire sometimes by necessity.

I’ve read ’70Candles’ and am curious about whether the situation or perspectives of women, including yourselves, have changed in the almost 10 years since you started the blog and research.

As you look back to the beginning of your 70’s are there opportunities or challenges you think might be different for me, women from the Baby Boomer generation retiring? I try to look back 10 years and it’s pretty hard to get a feel for what I think might be different about turning 60 today and then sort of extrapolate going forward into the next decade.

I suspect the number of women turning 60 while in the workforce is larger today than even 10 years ago. I’m also guessing the number of women who find themselves single in their sixties, either by choice or fate, is growing as a percentage of the overall total.

I’d appreciate any opinions you have to share regarding what to expect. I have an intention to live as ably and well as possible until I reach 100. There don’t seem to be many well-worn patterns to follow.


Ann Fox
Longevity Explorer & Guide
Aging is Living

A very interesting question from Ann Fox. Maybe we can all think about this and add our perspectives.
Jane and Ellen

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6 Responses to Curious about what’s changed

  1. Fran says:

    If you want to keep working and you can keep working, keep working. Retirement is highly overrated. 🙂 Working will help to keep you young. I was able to retire at 57 — WAY too young and way too soon. I loved my work and I loved my coworkers (most of us had worked together for almost 30 years), but I worked in a very demanding occupation, and I was just burnt out. If I had been able to continue to work PT, I would have; but PT work was not an option.

    At 60, I still felt young. At 70, I’m beginning to feel my age. 🙂

    My 60s were the very best decade of my life (which came as a big surprise). I came to know who I really am (always unfolding, of course), what is important and what is not important (to me), I greatly downsized and have no regrets.

    I believe that my 70s will be just as good as my 60s. I have no serous health problems. In fact, I take only high BP medication, and only a small amount of that. I know enough to be extremely grateful for my health.

    I’ve come to value solitude, which I never thought I would. Plus, I know the difference between solitude, loneliness and isolation, which the US and GB medias don’t seem to know the difference because they use loneliness and isolation interchangeable. While related, they are not the same thing. And while you will hear/read that loneliness and isolation will kill us — they won’t. It’s how we think and feel about loneliness and isolation that kill us.

    If you don’t have ‘your affairs in order’, get them in order over this coming year. The sooner you do it, the better. Your family will love you. 🙂 Make sure you have a will, a legal (for your state) document informing the medical profession of your end-of-life wishes, a medical power of attorney, and a financial power of attorney. Even if you don’t have any money or a house, your family will need these documents. A good book to help with all this is: “Who Take Care of Me When I’m Old” — you can get it used on Amazon.

    The only suggestion I am going to make is this: exercise for at least a half hour every single day (or at least 5-6 days week); and if you want to lose weight, make it an hour. I started exercising just a few months ago. I’ve never felt so good mentally and physically. My BP is down, and my sleep is so much better — I’ve always slept well but now it’s even better. (If you’ve not exercised before, hang in there, because it can take 4-8 weeks before you stop feeling sore. 🙂 And start out slowly. Start at whatever you can do comfortable, and then add 30 seconds every time you exercise.

    But no matter what we do, every year we lose a bit more strength and stamina. My ex-BF, who recently passed away at the age of 83, was a Super Ager. But, even then, by 80, he was starting to slow way down and taking daily naps. You sound like you might be a Super Ager, Even if you are, you will start slowing down in your 70s. Certainly by 80.

    Figure out what you will do/how you will life if you get sick or injured. The fact that we’re in good health at 70 doesn’t mean that we will be at 71. At our age, sickness and injuries are always a good possibility. 🙂 I never planed for this. So a few years ago, I broke my shoulder. It was just horrible. I had surgery, and I couldn’t get on and off even the ‘commode’ by myself. I couldn’t take a shower by myself. Of course, I couldn’t drive. I had a caregiver for 35 hours a week, for two full months, and I realized how important it is to plan for something like this. (And thank goodness, I had the money to pay for a caregiver.)

    Another book that you might get is ” Learning to Grow Old” by Paul Tournier. It is THE BEST book on retirement and old age that I have ever read — and I’ve read a lot. Tournier was a committed Christian (and I’m an agnostic) and a medical doctor, and it is still the best book on retirement and old age. It is an old book, so it’s not cheap. But it’s worth every penny you pay for it.

    And I wish you the very best. If you are in even fairly good health and have more than enough money (only you can define what that is), then old age is a great adventure. 🙂

  2. Suzanne Gross says:

    Well, turning 60 went by in the blink of an eye. Between 60-65 I went from being totally healthy to barely surviving to reach 65. I went from working full time to bed-ridden, in what seemed like overnight, yet…..forever. That too passed. I clawed my way back, got a new full time job at 67 and continued.

    Turning 70 though, now that was a big deal. Having survived near death once, i have examined and thought about it a lot. My experience was scary, no golden light at the end of the tunnel, just something waiting. So, now the next 10 years of hopefully I pray, good health seem very important. I don’t want to waste an opportunity or a moment.

    I have to work, but it’s not my first choice now. I want to travel, play with my dogs, see my kids, enjoy my friends and walk, even run while I’m able. Health is a gift, walking is a gift, family, close friends are all gifts. I’m trying to thank God for every day, for sunshine, health, love, and movement without pain. This is what I care about now in the years between 70 and 80. After that, I how could I know?

  3. Diana says:

    I have the impression that previous generations approached aging more passively – I am old, therefore, I hurt. I am old, therefore, I will stay home and rely on what I already know.

    I’d like to think that that attitude has changed. I am old and I sometimes hurt; therefore, I’d better get to the gym. I am old, therefore I have the time to learn new things.

    We’re demonstrating to younger generations that one need not go gentle into that good night.

    • gail says:

      I love your outlook, Diana!
      Can’t say enough about physical exercise. It is probably the only non-controversial holistic health aide I’ve come across in life, increasingly proven to be of benefit for physical, mental and emotional health.
      If there’s a magic bullet or pill, exercise is it!!
      Your last thought is very uplifting to me…..our generation could be thato be that beacon of light to those born after.

  4. mary hirsch says:

    Hi Ann,
    I’m Mary, 73, living in Boston for the last 10 years (formerly Santa Monica/Pacific Palisades, CA) and haven’t written in for a while. The holidays and pending New Year have always have a way of “inspiring” me to evaluate. So here’s my 2 peanuts after reading your intelligent note to Candleland….

    You don’t say much about yourself: married, kids, gay/straight, religion, whatever.. so I’m just going to take a general assessment and say what I’ve already said: you sound very bright and are planning ahead: A VERY good thing.

    A former PR/advertising/media relations specialist (and all that stuff) with my own T.V. show in Santa Monica until I retired 12 years ago, I am a retired 73-year-old who, without being a “WEIRDO,” works out every day, reads, studies, meditates and basically leads a comfortable, happy, solitary life as much as possible because I have found that HAPPINESS IS ALL WITHIN OURSELVES.

    My unsolicited advice is to get a LIFE COACH to set your course. If you have HEAD issue, seek counseling: find yourself. The rest is frosting.

    Just TRY to remember: Happiness lies within YOURSELF. Not your spouse, kids, dog, cat or anyone else – except God, if you happen to believe, as I do. Put in the work: exercise; stay healthy and positive!

    Good luck!

  5. Ellen says:

    I’m coming to this conversation several months after the initial post, but the question of what’s changed throughout my 70’s is a great one. I will turn 78 in less than two months, and Jane has me beat (as always!), having turned 78 herself in July. I find myself thinking about 8o these days, and am beginning to identify more with being in my 80’s than my 70’s. I continue to work full-time as a professor of psychology, but I have for the past few years thought more and more about retirement. I have no idea how I will spend my time once I stop working. I used to worry a lot about my “identity,” but that feels less important now. I definitely have a core identity, not necessarily tied to my work. A bigger issue is what I will do with my brain and my time. I want to visit national parks and see polar bears in the wild, but there has to be more. I am mostly comfortable and even excited trusting the process and seeing what comes along…I think. So that’s been the biggest change for me in this 8th decade–seriously considering no longer working. The other big change is that my husband, also 78, retired last June. He had a high-profile job with lots of fun social events that included me, so my life has changed in that regard. He is now not working and happy as a lark. It suits him. I was worried that his being at home would incur obligations for me as a companion, etc., but my worries haven’t panned out. I am fortunate to be healthy, but there are now more aches and pains, nothing serious, but still noticeable. I guess all this is to say that the 70’s have been quite exciting and satisfying for me, but I worry about failing health and living arrangements in my 80’s. And then I remember when I was 19 I dreaded turning 20, and when I was 29 I was terrified about being an incontrovertible adult at 30. So…we shall see.

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