By Helen Hirsh Spence
Estimated read, 2:31 min.
I’ve heard the expression, the ‘messy middle’, to describe the stage of life that those born between 1945-1964, or earlier, are living through today. The last of the Boomer generation will turn 65 in 2030 which means a large majority are experiencing a period of transition that can be both frightening, and exciting.
This messy ‘in-between’ period is often characterized by changes that are made unintentionally, or fraught with stress, despite the reality that there are opportunities out there that can turn this awkward time into the best time of life.
Sadly, however, there is no ritual or ceremony to welcome individuals into their later stages of life. The word, ‘retirement’ has, by default, been used to indicate age 65 (along with a change in employment status, whether desired or not). Many statistics about older adults lump everyone over 65 into the same category, although there are more differences among them than differences between generations. Luckily, future generations over age 65 will have us as their role models to help navigate their longer lives.
There is, however, light at the end of the tunnel. There seem to be more and more articles that reference ageing in a positive light. Is the Zeitgeist of the day finally pivoting from a youth centric focus to an older one, or is it just wishful thinking? Is there a power shift?
The Screen Actors Guild awards heralded Meryl Streep, Helen Mirren, and a few other “over 50-year-olds” as being elegant, and progressive. Imagine! Meryl wore a sleeveless gown which didn’t hide her “sagging underarms”. I quote this deliberately. To think that this is worthy of mention infuriates me. The beer bellies and balding heads of seventy-two-year-old men are never mentioned. These older gentlemen are, instead, regarded as distinguished. Gendered ageism is alive and well, but I digress.
This weekend, I caught up on webinars that I missed during the week. One exceptional week-long session was about the need to reframe ageing. It was put on by Maria Shriver who had numerous experts talk to the audience about the current research on ageing well, and how to ensure a longer life-span is matched with an equally long health-span.
Not surprisingly references were made to some of the key factors that will guarantee a better, older life. Taking advantage of the ‘messy middle’ by finding purpose, engaging actively in community, learning new skills, exploring possibilities, staying active, and eating and sleeping well were among the most significant.
Meryl Streep has always challenged contemporary norms and she is doing so by dressing as she wishes. There’s nothing ‘age-appropriate’ about what Meryl Streep does or says. She has come into her own. And this is what I wish for everyone as they age.
How are you enjoying this new stage of life? Connection, learning, engagement, curiosity, playfulness, creativity, and activity are some of the basic ingredients of all Top Sixty’s courses. Make your messy middle the best time of your life by exploring your path within a trusted community. Fast Forward* but not yet to the end.
*Learn about Top Sixty’s 5-part course, Fast Forward: Your Hundred Year Life HERE