LPN Newsletter - November 2013
Defining Second Adulthood Together - Part 2
, Chesapeake LPN member
(Elizabeth is a faculty member for graduate programs at Northeastern and George Washington Universities. In previous LPN Newsletters, she summarized LPN teleconference discussions that differentiated second adulthood from earlier adulthood and old age. Previous articles (June and July 2013) focused on Paid Work, Non-paid Work/Volunteerism, and Lifelong Learning. This article centers on Housing/Lifestyle, Finance/Legal, Spirituality, and Health/Fitness.)
In September 2013, I was privileged to facilitate a third discussion of second adulthood as an emerging life stage. As in previous teleconferences, I asked participants to reflect on personal and professional experiences, "ah-ha" moments, that raised this life transition to a conscious level. The key themes that emerged from that discussion are summarized here. Two key ideas permeated this particular discussion: 1) a growing consciousness of the need to be more intentional and mindful about the future and 2) an increasing motivation to control as many aspects as possible in preparation for it.
Four domains are summarized: housing and lifestyle, finance and legal, spirituality, and health and fitness. For each domain, we looked at factors such as motivation, reflection, engagement, liberation, and joy/satisfaction. Collective thinking in each of these categories is summarized here [link to remainder of article on website].
Thanks to all LPN members and guests who contributed to these discussions. While the results are very preliminary, it is my hope that there will be more opportunities in the future for life planning practitioners to share their wisdom about this important life stage.
I’d be delighted to hear from anyone who has ideas about how to continue our conversation -
- Motivation for the personal control of future choices transformed in both focus and intensity and manifested in the consideration of decisions relative to personal comfort and safety, as well as the need to complete certain life activities (e.g., active travel, type and location of housing) earlier rather than later.
- Reflection shifted as individuals became increasingly conscious of the idea of being a "certain age" and the importance of being able to adapt. Also, reflection manifested in a growing consciousness of the consideration of mindful options for housing and lifestyle with thoughts focused on life balance and on living "beyond the exit" from second adulthood with "the last move" in closer sight (e.g., renovating a bathroom to make it more accessible; moving to an urban environment for ease of access to amenities without having to drive).
- Engagement included preparing for future age-related changes, from readying a current home for "aging in place" (e.g., hiring a specialist), to looking for a totally new environment (e.g., urban), to implementing active travel plans sooner rather than later.
- Liberation began to be defined differently with health and health maintenance as the critical link to current/future personal freedom; it also manifested in decision-making that increased control over future living conditions in order to remain independent as long as possible (e.g., living in a neighborhood where walking is possible, getting a condo, "lightening up").
- Joy/Satisfaction resulted from reducing the number of possessions, travel, having family around, and a growing focus on grandchildren.
- Motivation for this focus increased as a result of seeing the "end" of others who were of a similar age or not much older and from a growing realization that it was time to consider options; the need for preparation began to emerge as a concrete need versus an abstract concept to be considered at some point in the future.
- Reflection deepened as internal conversations transformed from future thinking to the consideration of doing something right away. Finance and legal activities triggered reflection and brought "the end" into sharp relief as thoughts began to consider the final life stage.
- Engagement increased as individuals began to appreciate the knowledge and experience of elders. Conversations on financial/legal issues increasingly became more "interesting" versus something only older people discussed; also the need to revisit these issues regularly became more apparent.
- Joy/Satisfaction gained had to do with finding out how much fun investing and saving could actually be.
- Motivation shifted to include more generous and less ego-driven ideas of spirituality which were not as dependent on materialism and a need to prove something; the need to be part of something larger than the self also emerged.
- Reflection deepened as a sense of longing/quest for meaning gathered intensity; a readiness to listen differently and a need to deeply examine options emerged. Health issues also contributed to a new perspective.
- Engagement showed up through shifts in focus relative to religious practice or a growing sense of spirituality. This manifested in joining communities of like-minded practitioners, being more mindful and intentional on a daily basis, and making time for meaningful and personal spiritual practices.
- Liberation from earlier religious training/traditions occurred as previous beliefs and practices transformed and mellowed, often becoming less rigid and moralistic; spiritual notions seemed to have a more open and generous quality to them with less focus on right and wrong.
- Expression changed from religiosity to spirituality and manifested in a need for a community with a common focus (e.g., social justice); nature and being outdoors became a stronger spiritual force; music brought the spirit alive in deeper ways.
- Joy/Satisfaction began to have more to do with aligning spiritual beliefs and practices with individual identity and on one’s own terms.
- Motivation shifted as the need for personal control over health and in actively countering the impact of physical aging became increasingly more important; needs manifested in greater numbers of doctor’s appointments, joining a gym, investing in a personal trainer, or setting specific fitness goals.
- Reflection deepened as health experiences (of self or others) leave a greater impression than when younger, including the notions of the criticality of intentional health maintenance, the impact of being helpless, and losing control.
- Engagement evolved to increasingly include a focus on the facets of physical fitness associated with aging (e.g., muscles/core strengthening and balance). Decisions became more intentional and focused as the need for self-care became more essential even for general health maintenance.