A woman turning 65 today is healthier, more physically active, better educated and more eager to keep learning than ever before. Today's 65-year-olds have a life expectancy of 20 more years. With all that time, it has many asking the question: how can I make the most of my life?
Retired professor and author Thelma Reese, 80, has a pretty good idea.
Life was so different for our mothers, grandmothers and aunts, and people, for the most part, didn't live as long. Now, there are so many more people living so much longer -- and healthier -- and what are they going to do with this time? Most people don't want to sit around and rock. When we say we rock, we're not talking about chairs.
Thelma started talking with women from all backgrounds, of all education levels and of all ethnicities across the country to see how they saw their futures. She gathered their stories in her book, "The New Senior Woman: Reinventing the Years Beyond Midlife.
She discovered that what women 65 and younger needed most was role models. What women 65 and younger are seeing today is that they have many more years to look forward to. They're looking at role models to see how to do it and to see how people who are living well are doing it in so many different ways.
Thelma also wants her book to dispel some of the common myths that still exist about aging. For starters, she's tired of hearing that older people aren't interested in using new technologies.
Today it's easier than ever to use technology, even if you don't want to use a computer. There are iPads and phones, and you can have all the advantages. You can still find all these wonderful blogs. You can interact with people of all ages. You can still feel that you're in on what's going on. The worst thing we've found about aging, for most people, is isolation. You've got to stay with it; with a community, with people of all ages and know what's happening.
She says she's also seen a dramatic shift in the way people view the future, particularly as they age.
I remember my mother was not as optimistic when she was in her 70's. By the time she hit 95, she really meant it when she said, This is right now and this is the time I have. She stopped looking forward so much and started enjoying the moment. You don't know what's going to happen. You can't know. The only time you can control a little bit is right now so make the most of it. So my advice? Don't wait to start enjoying the now.