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When people think of retirement planning, most focus on the financial side. It’s critical. But retirement is not just about money. It’s also about time.
In my work, I see smart people who nail the financial side, yet put off the non-financial side.
They’re financially flying first-class in retirement – but they find themselves living in the equivalent of a middle seat in the last row of coach.
Because getting it right – on both sides – can appear deceptively simple, but it can be easily put off. Until, you find that you’ve drifted off into retirement. You have enough money, lots of time and, after awhile, more boredom than you expected.
There’s a cost of not planning for both sides of retirement. You could find yourself becoming a zombie.
Planning for both sides of the retirement equation takes different mindsets. On the financial side, you have to think conservatively and in a linear fashion. It’s a left-brain thing. Increasingly, many of the investment decisions for retirement tend toward the auto-pilot mode. While it is certainly complex, auto-pilot makes it sound so easy.
Automatic enrollment in retirement savings plans.
Target date funds.
Just “set it and forget it.”
The non-financial side is a different animal. It’s more of a right brain thing. You have to think expansively.
Creating a vision of your life after your primary career.
Rediscovering your purpose.
Adjusting to the loss of your career identity – and crafting a new one.
Replacing some of the non-financial benefits that came from work, such as social connectivity.
Discovering new and different ways to invest your time.
This work takes imagination and requires equal parts of vulnerability, experimentation and collaboration.
It can be easy to underestimate. After all, how hard can it be? “You mean, I’ll be freed from the daily grind? I’ve got this covered. Golf. Grilling. Netflix and chill. Rinse and repeat. Problem solved. Nirvana.”
Stuck in Vacation Prison
People feel that they deserve hard-earned time-off once they retire. There’s certainly nothing wrong with that. But problems can creep in when the vacation lasts so long that it perniciously becomes the new normal. A former colleague confided in me that time off was great at first, but then it actually became boring. He was surprised that he found himself feeling that way. After all, it was what it dreamed of for years – not working. But somehow he became “stuck in a vacation prison.” Something was missing. While he did not want to return to his corporate life, he didn’t want to feel like he retired from all of life either. After awhile, the vacation continued, but he was adrift. When every day is Saturday, you realize you’ve ruined Saturdays.
You see them at Starbucks. You see them at the movie theater. They all have that same look in their eyes. Retirement Zombies.
Step Out of Your Comfort Zone and Create Your New Life
There’s a better way that many baby boomers are pursuing, even though its been mocked by a New York times columnist, who advocates a traditional retirement life of moving to Florida and playing mah-jongg and golf.
Let me be clear. There’s certainly nothing wrong with any of those choices, except that they’re not for everyone. Some people want more out of the rest of their lives.
Is that all there is? Is this what I worked so hard all those years for?
In his excellent book, Falling Upward, Richard Rohr an outspoken, controversial Franciscan priest, characterizes the second-half of life as being about a spiritual transition of connecting to a deeper purpose and meaning in life. It’s more about others, and the contributions you make to the lives of others.
If that’s what you’re after, step of of your comfort zone and augment your financial planning, with a vision of your life in retirement. One that’s right for you, not the prescribed traditional one.
It involves taking stock of areas such as:
Life – What’s your true purpose in these next chapters of life? What contributions do you want to make to the lives of others?
Love – What are the things you really love to do? Who are the people you really want to spend more time with? (And not…).
Leisure – What are the things you really want to do for enjoyment?
Learning – This may be the secret weapon. What new things do you want to learn? What have you always wanted to take up, but never had the time?
If you’re satisfied with checking out to a life of golf, best wishes. In the spirit of full disclosure, I am an unapologetic, non-golfing “ambitious baby boomer”, exactly the type derided by the Times columnist. But I fervently believe there’s a higher level of active and meaningful, retired life that’s attainable with a bit of thoughtful planning.
Don’t be a zombie. Reach higher.
This post was originally published on Retirement Wisdom and was reprinted with permission.
Of course as much as people tune in to watch the game along with the half time show, the commercials are often some of the biggest points of discussion the next day.
There was one commercial in particular that really stood out – and not necessarily for the right reasons.
John Tarnoff, author of Boomer Reinvention, made the following comment as he shared the video for the e-trade commercial on LinkedIn this week;
“Catch this one on the Super Bowl? For those who have inadequate retirement savings, the irony is too real – and not funny. Isn’t it kinda ageist and patronizing to belittle the idea of older people working by putting them in wildly inappropriate jobs?”
And John’s right.
With one third of Americans not having saved for retirement and 23% having less then $10,000 saved, the sad reality is that many people will need to work in retirement.
Not because they want to –but because they have to.
So what I am sure was intended to be a light hearted poke at the need to save for retirement because “you wouldn’t want to end up like this”, turned out to be a very hard hit and ageist perspective of a situation that many people may in fact find themselves living.
And sadly, this no laughing matter.
Here’s the commercial – what do you think?
ETRADE Super Bowl Commercial 2018 "This Is Getting Old" - YouTube
This picture is from my mother’s 93rd birthday which we celebrated recently at her nursing home. The cake was chocolate and bought from her favourite grocery store.
Birthdays always seem to evoke memories for me so I thought I would share my thoughts.
A Mother’s Love
I remember a few years back telling my mother that I needed to get over my fear of public speaking because one of my dreams was to one day travel around the country talking and educating people about Victory Lap Retirement.
She wanted to help, and came up with the idea that I should give weekly talks to a group of her friends at her retirement home. They were always looking for things to do and it would be a way to ease into public speaking in front of a friendly audience.
So each Wednesday I would visit her and after lunch we would wait for her friends to slowly make their way in their walkers and wheelchairs to the media room where I would talk for an hour about something of interest.
To be honest the first time I did it I was petrified – my fear of public speaking was that bad, but thanks to the support of my mum and her friends I was eventually able to get comfortable.
There were times when one or two of them would fall asleep as I was infringing on their after lunch nap time, and once someone actually started to snore. That thought still makes me smile.
I also remember talking to my mother after one presentation when I asked her about something that I had said. She started to turn red and told me that she couldn’t actually hear what I was talking about as she had a problem with her hearing. Mum had never mentioned her hearing problem to me before.
So there she would sit in front of me for all those presentations with a smile on her face not hearing a single word I was saying. I guess that is what mothers do.
I will never forget that.
The Great Circle Of Life
My mother’s recent journey from retirement home to the nursing home has been an eye opener and because of that I’m now a firm believer that happiness and fulfillment comes from within.
Looking back there was a progression, each move my mother made, from detached house, to retirement home, to nursing home resulted in a shrinking of her living space and a corresponding reduction in her possessions. Now she has only a few possessions some furniture, a wedding picture and family pictures adorn the walls, and her memories.
I realize that somewhere along the way many of us get caught up acquiring “stuff” that we don’t need. We were not put on this earth just to die with a big pile of junk.
When you boil life down to it’s essentials, it’s easy to separate what’s important from what’s not.
You realize that chasing after money is not the most important thing, and neither is the stuff you acquire throughout your life. What is really important, what really matters, are the memories you created with your friends and families, and the difference you make in the lives of the people you touch and help along the way. I sometimes wonder as she sits staring blankly at a wall what is she thinking about, what meaningful moment in her life is she focused on?
One day the majority of us will be in mum’s shoes, we will review the tapes in our minds, hopefully we made a difference in people’s lives, and hopefully we made great memories because that is all that we will have left.
I’ve made a promise to myself to invest the rest of my time on this planet chasing my dreams, helping people along the way, and making wonderful memories with the Contessa, my kids and hopefully one day, grandchildren.
A New Attitude
My mother suffers from Parkinson’s. As a result she can’t feed herself and the constant shaking is wearing her down. I am not quite sure how many pills she takes but it is a lot, she also has some problems with her heart and will require dialysis soon as her kidney function is quite low. They mix all these pills with apple sauce which she takes down grudgingly before dinner time and I try to have a coffee on hand to help her with the process. She like to have her coffee with one milk, quarter sugar with a straw.
I’ve been watching, listening and learning a lot from her every time I visit. I don’t particularly like going to the home, but it has given me a new perspective on life.
I am no longer focused on my own longevity, I’m more concerned about quality of life. I choose abundance of life over mere extension of time.
None of us is getting out of here alive, we are not going to live forever.
That is why I focus on pushing my “best before date” as far back as possible and filling those quality days with as much adventure, memories and joy as I can. To do that I need to get back to “healthy” and be able to sustain that health which is part of the reason I have decided to do Ironman when I turn sixty five in 2019.
I plan on celebrating my success every chance I get and that means enjoying some chicken wings and a few beers along the way. There is nothing better than a cold beer on a hot summer day after a long endurance workout, trust me on that. Enjoy life while you can.
I remember once visiting my mum and she told me who ever called it the “Golden Years” was full of it. My mum’s Irish can you tell?
Mike Drak is a thirty-eight year veteran of the financial services and lives with his wife Melina in Toronto, Canada. Along with being a best-selling author, award winning blogger and retirement coach Mike has also appeared on BNN, CBC Radio and iHeart radio. You can connect with Mike through his website Victory Lap Retirement and follow him on Twitter at @VictoryLapRetir.
You know things must be bad when they assign a government minister to tackle the problem.
And that’s exactly what they did in the UK recently. They appointed a Minster for Loneliness in their government.
The reason they did this is because a British commission found that nearly nine million people in the country either often, or always, feel loneliness.
Loneliness is a major health issue.
Loneliness has been linked to higher risks for heart disease, diabetes, cancer and other health issues. It has even been referred to as being the “new smoking” and could be as dangerous to your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Loneliness has even been cited as being a bigger risk to longevity than obesity is.
The following video from Time outlines the background and details of this new government position.
But as dangerous as loneliness is for anyone, the situation is even worse for older people.
According to the charity Age UK, half a million people over the age of 60 usually spend each day in complete solitude, and nearly half a million more tend not to see or speak to anyone for at least five days in any given week. Half of all people aged 75 or over live alone, 70% of them women.
But if you think that loneliness is just a problem in the UK, it’s not.
Loneliness is also a major North American issue too.
In a post shared titled The power and prevalence of loneliness published on the Harvard Health Publishing website, they shared that “loneliness affects 25% – 60%” of older Americans” and the CBC reported that “as many as 1.4 million elderly Canadians report feeling lonely“.
Loneliness is defined as; being without company, cut off from others, not frequented by human beings, producing a feeling of bleakness or desolation.
As humans, we are built for social interaction.
One of the best ways to combat the feelings of loneliness is to stay active and engaged with other people. This is where I think the community comes in.
With loneliness being a major health issue that is only going to potentially escalate with the increasing numbers of people aging, communities need to play an active role in integrating older people into the life and support of the community.
Here’s a great example of what I’m suggesting.
In Sardinia, Italy they have some of the highest rates of longevity along with very low levels of depression. As much as food and exercise contributes – the sense of community and lack of isolation is also now being attributed to this situation.
In the following CNN video, they profile some of the residents as they live their life.
As you watch the video, take note on how integrated the elderly are in the day to day activities of the city’s life. The streets, the cafes – the elderly are there as part of the community.
They are not living isolated in homes or only involved in programs for old people. They are active participants taking part of the daily life and routine of the community.
So I think before we start building programs to combat loneliness for aging, we need to ensure that the communities are actively involved.
Watching out and caring for each other used to be part of the backbone of any community. Maybe now is the time we need to go back to that in order to help save our future.
Back in June 2016 I gave a TEDx Talk – ‘Male, Stale and in a Shed’. I experienced mixed success.
Following that scary but exciting experience, I resolved to write a series of blog posts under a ‘No Man’s Land’ umbrella. My blog posts were my attempt to explore the issues in my short talk and, in particular, to try to identify the roots of my mental ill-health over the past two decades.
So one year ago I published the first of my ‘No Man’s Land’ blog posts and, although I only intended it should be a year-long series, the posts continue.
I am finding the more personal they get, the harder they are to write.
One thing that writing and reflection has done is to help me identify what I think has worked for me in keeping at bay for the past two years what Churchill famously described as his ‘black dog’.
Here are the three main ingredients in my recipe for staying healthier and happier for longer, the first is connecting…
Connecting With People
I used to say with like-minded people, but some of my most interesting recent encounters have been with people with whom I disagree but who are prepared to debate in a grown-up and respectful way. It can be scary but exciting to have your views challenged!
Connecting With Places
I believe the need to belong is powerful for many people.
It’s one I associate with places as well as people and it can be something as simple as going into town knowing I’ll probably meet someone I know. But it still took me around five years after moving from London to a market town of 17,000 to get that level of connection.
Connecting With Our Feelings
Perhaps this is the most difficult for many older men.
I try hard to fight an inbred tendency to supress emotions, particularly negative ones, and I avoid talking about my innermost concerns.
I haven’t yet cracked it and I know I’m not alone. I organise school reunions and it was only six months ago that a friend from school days admitted to me something he’d told only his wife until then – that he’d been sexually assaulted when he was nine years old.
Then There is Creating
I most enjoy being in a Men’s Shed, or any shed for that matter. When problem-solving and being creative is involved it’s the closest I have come to experiencing what they call ‘flow’.
But that’s not what I’m talking about here.
I mean creating stuff: making things; writing – stories, poetry; or cooking – creating a special meal, preferably to eat with others.
It could be gardening – growing plants of even creating natural colour in a garden, or maybe it’s artwork – painting or photography. It doesn’t have to be brilliant, but I think it’s important that it’s something that pleases the creator; something that matters to them. And if it pleases others, so much the better.
Forty years ago I still remember making a wooden case for carrying and displaying books for my mum. I still recall her looking at it in wonder and saying to me and others present ‘He made this! He took pieces of wood and he made this!’ She was so proud and, looking back, so was I.
The last ingredient for staying healthier and happier for longer is this.
When older people say ‘I want to die’ I don’t believe them. I think when older people really want to die they simply stop carrying on – and do so. Until then there’s something – anger, curiosity, love or something else – keeping them alive.
Carry on learning.
There’s a famous Gandhi quote…
‘Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.’
I love it for urging us to never stop learning new things – facts, skills, whatever. We know that learning keeps our brains ticking over and wards off deterioration. I’m learning to hula hoop – there’s no time to explain why I took it up and my longer term plans if I succeed. Suffice it to say I’m still learning!
Some years ago I read a book called ‘How to Age’ by Anne Karpf. I was struck by her observation that we talk about ‘growing’ old but ageing is usually seen in negative terms – a winding down rather than a process of growth and development. The University of the Third Age is the fastest growing community organisation in my home town and that delights me (I’m hoping a new Men’s Shed will come a close second) as they share that thirst for learning in later life.
Carry on moving.
For me that means running and walking, for others it may be swimming, cycling, even dancing. It doesn’t have to be long, hard or fast – just regular and enjoyable (which raises the brain’s serotonin and lowers cortisol; good for managing stress)
My wife works in healthcare and knows first hand the stresses and strains that afflict the service. After personally being a consumer of a full range of medications over the past 20 years – from Prozac for depression to Alendronic Acid for osteoporosis – I consider it my duty to try to stay clear of the health service for as long as possible through self-medication with connecting, creating, and carrying on.
Here’s my TED Talk entitled Male, Stale and In A Shed;
Male, stale and in a shed | Chris Lee | TEDxChelmsford - YouTube
Chris Lee has been in the marketing industry for over 35 years – the first 15 in books, the past 18 in social enterprise and business support. He is passionate about Men’s Sheds, active ageing, singing in a choir, and off-road running.
This post was originally published on Enterprise Essentials and was adapted and reprinted with permission.
A psychological state in which individuals grow in a positive capacity, experiencing both a sense of vitality and a sense of learning. Vitality refers to the sense of feeling energized and alive, while learning refers to the sense of continually improving through acquiring and applying new knowledge and skills.
Twenty older workers (55+) who were working full time told me their stories of when they had felt they were thriving at work.
What was really interesting was that the participants thrived in specific types of situations. The older workers thrived when they;
added value, made a meaningful contribution, and had impact;
experienced or learned new things; or
Value and Impact
Most of the older workers chose to tell their thriving story about an experience where they had done something meaningful, made a difference, and had impact.
This was often about helping others, for example mentoring younger or new employees, helping clients deal with a difficult situation, and making a difference in organizations. Sometimes, these actions were connected to something beyond the immediate work, like benefiting people in society.
One older worker, Janice, mentored a younger employee who had lost a big contract:
He was very dejected. He’s only about 30 years old and was wondering if he should change careers, and I had to call him into my office and sit him down, and talk to him a bit about… Tell him my failures and experiences, and things that I’ve learned from them, and how you put that behind you and move onto the next piece of business and try and pick yourself up, and dust yourself off, and do it again. . . . When I finished talking to him that time, I had successfully persuaded him not to quit, not to get down on himself, not to just walk out the door and forget about this in terms of he’s not ever going to be able to succeed at it.
When Janice was in this situation, she felt excited, enthusiastic, genuine, and “very authentic in my life.”
She said that it felt as if she was giving herself a pep talk. This sense of energy referred to the vitality component of thriving. At the same time, she felt she was growing in her ability to manage people and do her job well: “it’s good to manage staff, because it means I have to coach them and it makes me better in my own job. They say the best way to learn to do something is to teach others.”
Growing in her ability to manage and becoming better at her job represented the learning component of thriving at work.
Novelty and Variety
Some stories were about new and varied experiences in work and with people, such as exploring, discovering, creating, or learning something new. This often occurred at the start of a new project, when taking a new direction, or meeting people with whom the older worker had not worked before. The work included exposure to a range of activities and topics.
Rex told a story of how he and three coworkers had explored an area in Africa at the start of a large construction project:
Going into an area where we said, “Hey, we’re going to build something here” and you can visualize what you’re going to build. That was a great experience for us, going with very close friends and doing this reconnaissance. There was, I don’t know, a sense of adventure in that. I guess that was it. Knowing that when it was all finished that it all started from that day.
Experiencing both a sense of vitality and a sense of learning was evident in Rex’s story. His references to and descriptions of the “adrenaline and newness” conveyed the sense of vitality. Everything was new to him and he had the “epiphany where you sort of pinch yourself and go, how did I get here?” The sense of learning came from figuring out how to operate in this part of the world, deal with the challenges, and deliver a good product to their client.
Some older workers told stories about how they had achieved success or the result they had desired.
They rose to a challenge, made progress, or accomplished a good outcome for a client or other stakeholders. This brought about feelings of pride and accomplishment. While this type of situation is related to value and impact, it is different in the sense that the stories were about achieving concrete and successful results rather than about older workers’ value, impact, and purpose.
Adam’s story focused on how he had achieved a good outcome for his client and raised the profile of his organization through a successful new business undertaking.
He guided his client through a financial process and successful application for funds from a government program. He commented that his clients were “doubly happy because one, not only was their gift now being well looked after. Secondly, we doubled it kind of overnight.” In addition, Adam established his organization’s expertise in a niche area which built their profile and set them up for recurring business as his client started to refer other potential clients to him.
Adam described his sense of vitality as the enthusiasm and drive with which he had pursued the opportunity and motivated his organization to support the initiative. His sense of learning was described as the affirmation of him having “knowledge and expertise to bring to the table” and the confidence he gained from the accomplishment.
During the process of thriving at work, the older workers behaved in ways to fuel and sustain thriving at work. The older workers drew on their experience, knowledge, maturity, and wisdom as resources in their thriving experience, and felt appreciated and validated when these resources and behaviours were recognized.
Positive emotions were a part of thriving at work, but also emerged as a result of the thriving experience.
While the older workers’ resources, behaviours, and attitudes impacted their thriving at work, it appeared as if the work context had an even bigger impact.
They thrived when they enjoyed their jobs and found it to be a good fit with their strengths and purpose.
The older workers’ relationships with their managers and coworkers were characterized by mutual openness to feedback, trust, and respect. The manager provided the older workers with autonomy to do their jobs, opportunities for growth, and recognition for their contributions, and colleagues provided a sense of community and camaraderie.
Working in an organization where it was easy to get work done, whether as a result of clarity and openness around changes, access to technology and other resources, or limited bureaucracy and obstacles, enabled older workers’ thriving.
The likelihood of thriving was increased when they experienced their organizations’ concern for them.
This included the acknowledgement of them as individuals (and not being treated as numbers) and balance between work responsibilities and their personal lives. Feeling part of something bigger, for example, when the organization made a contribution to the broader society, also contributed to the older workers’ thriving at work.
Overall, the themes which emerged from the older workers’ stories were closely related to Gretchen Spreitzer and her colleagues’ original thriving at work model (which was not attached to a specific generation) and subsequent studies I had encountered in my literature review.
This raised the question whether thriving at work was any different for older workers than what it was for all other workers.
What older workers need to thrive, may after all not be that different to what any other worker needs.
Maritha Peens is an executive coach in the public sector who has a passion for helping people thrive in career and life. Being a baby boomer herself, Maritha obtained her doctorate in Human and Organizational Systems through Fielding Graduate University when she was in her 50s. Having immigrated to Canada from South Africa in 2006, she now lives with her husband in Oakville, Ontario.
Even though you may think differently, no one is immune to mental illness.
According to the World Health Organization, one in four people (currently this is approximately 450 million people worldwide) will be affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives.
Disturbingly, however, a multitude of current studies indicate it is extremely difficult for many people, especially men, to reach out and seek help for mental disorders. Obviously, however, if help isn’t sought, such illnesses can’t be controlled or cured.
In fact, many alarmed medical experts are indicating that in our increasingly complex, speed-filled, stressful world, the don’t-seek-help stance is reaching crisis status, causing grave harm not only to individuals, but to the societies in which they live.
So, what is contributing to this personal silence?
Economics plays a significant role.
A recent study by the British Equality and Human Rights Commission shows that, despite the fact that it is illegal under The Equality Act of 2010, there is a wide mental-health pay gap in England.
Men there living with depression or anxiety earn 26 percent less than men who don’t experience that condition. For men who experience panic attacks, the gap is an incredible 42 percent. The study shows that while women also experience a mental-health pay difference, that gap is only 10 percent.
Officials for the Men’s Health Forum weren’t surprised at those results, since they support their own findings.
The MHF has reported that 34 percent of men would be embarrassed or ashamed to take time off from work for mental health concerns. For men who had actually experienced mental health problems – and therefore had also experienced the reaction to them – 52 percent are concerned about specifying their problems and taking time off for treatment.
MHF chief executive officer Todd Martin says the findings indicate that despite scientific advances in identifying the reasons for mental disorders and how they can be treated, widely-held stigmas about such diseases, especially as they affect men, still exist.
“Based on figures like these, employers need to do much more to tackle stigma and discrimination against mental health problems in the workplace,” Martin contends.
But the CEO also believes changes in the British health system are needed, too. “We can’t wait for every employer to change,” Martin says. “People must be able to get confidential support for mental health issues outside working hours without their employer knowing.”
Nations around the world are now coming up with innovative, countrywide programs to try to reduce the long-standing stigma surrounding mental illness. Most are aimed at encouraging more discussion about mental illness, both the problems it causes and, even more importantly, the treatment options that are available.
Once a year, Bell Canada sponsors its Bell: Let’s Talk day, which is set for January 31. The program promotes four simple ways people can help end the stigma surrounding mental illness. They are:
Breaking the silence and have informative, open discussions. This is crucial since two out of three people suffer mental illness in silence, fearing judgement and rejection. Experts point out that being open to such conversations is the first step toward eliminating the stigma.
Educating yourself to have the right tools, knowing the right words to use, and understanding how to correctly speak with someone who is experiencing the devastating impact of mental illness.
If you believe that someone is suffering from mental illness, being a good listener and asking how you can help or simply being there for people you care about is often a first step in their recovery.
As so often is the case, kindness is the key to helping. Expressions like “don’t worry, you’ll get over it” or “just relax” actually hurt more than help. But simple acts such as a sincere smile coupled with a willingness to talk or an invitation to chat over coffee can open up the conversation and let someone know you are there for them.
Started in 2010, the annual Bell Program continues to promote an awareness strategy that is focused on four pillars:
overcoming the stigma attached to mental illness
supporting a variety of agencies that help provide mental health support when and where it is needed
investing in research programs with the potential to have transformative impacts on mental health, and
encouraging greater corporate engagement to help workers overcome mental health issues.
So how does Bell Canada fund these programs? Here are some examples that you can participate in on January 31st:
Send a text message. For every text sent by Bell Canada, Bell Allant, and Bell MTS customers on Let’s Talk Day, Bell donates five cents towards mental health issues.
That same five-cent contribution is made for any phone call.
The company also makes a five-cent donation any time you watch its Bell Let’s Talk video on Facebook, Instagram, or SnapChat or tweet using the hashtag #BellLetsTalk.
If you want to get involved in the program or just learn more about mental illness, Bell Canada has put together a comprehensive toolkit which you can download here.
This is the fourth segment in an ongoing series written by Dave Price on some of the challenges men experience with aging. Here are his other three posts;
As Baby Boomers (those of us born between 1946 and 1964), we were the first generation to grow up during the Atomic Age. Aware at any moment that devastatingly destructive nuclear bombs could rain from the sky, ending much of life and civilization as we knew it.
Of course, at no time was that threat more real than during those 13 tension-packed days of October, 1962, which came to be called the Cuban Missile Crisis.
During that short, yet terrifying period, the world held its collective breath as the two major nuclear powers, America and the Soviet Union, appeared on the brink of war over Russia’s decision to install armed nuclear missile launchers in its fellow Communist country of Cuba, an island nation only 90 miles from America’s Florida coast.
However, thanks to luck, back-door negotiations between representatives of the two countries, and calming, not calamitous, decisions from American President John Kennedy and Russian leader Nikita Kruschev, the horrifying tragedy that was first witnessed when the United States dropped atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to end World War II was averted.
During the ensuing years of the 20th Century, although the threat of nuclear war was always a possibility, Baby Boom parents were relieved to find their children didn’t have to undergo the terror of the duck-and-cover drills and daily reports of imminent danger that had filled their own childhoods.
However, our grandchildren aren’t being as fortunate.
Increasing worldwide terrorism, continuing tensions in the Middle East, and a flurry of worrisome tweets and official statements between American President Donald Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong II have once again brought the possibility of nuclear war to the forefront of media coverage.
Three recent events demonstrate just how serious the situation is.
Earlier this month, Hawaii, which was already undergoing emergency preparations for any possible nuclear attack from North Korea, was plunged into a state of panic when a message warning:
Emergency Alert – BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL
was dispatched to cellphones across the state.
The alert was found to be false and the result of human error, but for 38 dread-filled minutes, residents of Hawaii prepared for the worst.
People scrambled to find their families. Residents flocked to established shelters or hunkered in their homes. Others crowded the highways in terror, intent on seeking supposed safety outside of cities. And, all the while, emergency sirens wailed in parts of the state, adding to the panic.
Of course, while utterly terrifying for all those involved, the false alert did end happily.
But it does starkly remind us of what can happen when the old realities of the nuclear age collide with the speed and uncertainty of our new internet age.
Then, just last week, a panel of scientists and scholars announced they believe the world right now is as close as it has ever been to a nuclear doomsday scenario.
The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, a group which has been tracking the threat posed by nuclear weapons since the 1940s, moved the second hand on its symbolic Doomsday Clock forward to two minutes before apocalyptic midnight.
“North Korea’s nuclear weapon program made remarkable progress in 2017, increasing risks to North Korea itself, other countries in the region, and the United States,’” the group warned in a statement. “Hyperbolic rhetoric and provocative actions by both sides have increased the possibility of nuclear war by accident or miscalculation”.
In an announcement certain to chill many, especially Baby Boomers, the last time the clock was so close to midnight was in 1953 during the Cold War arms race.
The final sign of our new nuclear age, while not as prominently reported as the other two, may, quite possibly prove to be the most disturbing.
On February 13, Severin Films will release on DVD and Blu-Ray the infamous 1984 British film Threads, a completely terrifying (Writer’s Note: I consider it to be the most horrifying film I have ever seen) made-for-TV dramatization of what would happen to the British city of Sheffield and its people in the wake of a nuclear attack.
Peter Bradshaw, a writer for The Guardian, calls the shocking post-nuclear masterpiece “the only film I have been really and truly scared and indeed horrified by.”
“it wasn’t until I saw Threads that I found that something on screen could make me break out in a cold, shivering sweat and keep me in that condition for 20 minutes, followed by weeks of anxiety and depression,” Bradshaw added.
(Here is the trailer for Threads. Please be aware there are some disturbing images.)
Threads Official Blu-ray Trailer - YouTube
Of course, these warnings, terrifying as they are, do not have to become prophetic reality.
Nuclear Armageddon is not inevitable.
But as concerned scientists and activist filmmakers point out, the clock is ticking. The symbolic hands can, should, and must be turned back. That will take action from every one of us concerned about the fate of ourselves, our progeny, and indeed the entire human race.
For if we fail to let our voices be heard, we will be forced to learn the hard truth behind American jazz musician Dexter Gordon’s somewhat glib saying: “In nuclear war, all men are cremated equally.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the first in an ongoing series of Booming Encore articles which will examine some of the history behind atomic weaponry as it has affected Baby Boomers; what science, art, literature, and film have to say about the issue; and what can be done to assure that nuclear fears do not become nuclear realities.
When did you last try to sit down on a floor and then get back up again?
Did you have any difficulties in doing this?
Well, it seems that this simple test can actually help assess how well you are aging – and even possibly your mortality.
This test actually helps to assess your flexibility, balance and muscle strength which can all be key indicators of your longevity.
The sitting and rising test (SRT) was developed by Brazilian physician Claudio Gil Araujo. As reported by Discover Magazine, this is what he discovered;
“In a study published in the European Journal of Cardiology, Araujo had more than 2,000 patients ages 51 to 80, all part of an exercise program at Clinimex Exercise Medicine Clinic in Rio de Janeiro, take the SRT. People who scored fewer than eight points on the test, he found, were twice as likely to die within the next six years compared with those who scored higher; those who scored three or fewer points were more than five times as likely to die within the same period compared with those who scored more than eight points.”
So how well would you do?
By developing this test, the hope of Dr. Araujo was that once his patients knew the results of their tests, they would then take some action to improve their overall fitness, flexibility and strength – and in turn extend their longevity.
Here’s more information about the SRT and what it can tell you in the following BBC video;
A simple life expectancy test - How To Stay Young: Episode 1 Preview - BBC One - YouTube
Here is an example of some people trying this test on CBC’s the Passionate Eye documentary;