While not in the history books quite yet, scores of women today are changing the aging experience for the better, by providing us new models for positive aging. Here are a few of the trailblazers.
Helen Dennis and Bernice Bratter are members of the first generation of women to work outside the home for most of their lives. Dennis and Bratter gathered a network of talented women who explored new alternatives to their work lives.
Their “Project Renewment” became the first retirement model for career women; exploiting the fact that women are willing to share their experiences, hopes and dreams with one another about the next chapter in their life. Their work gave birth to dozens of Project Renewment groups around the country, and has paved the way for 40 million boomer women to rediscover themselves in their retirement years. Project Renewment, a Los Angeles Times bestselling book addresses the issues and opportunities. To learn more go towww.projectrenewment.com.
With a reporter’s eye, author Gail Sheehy has tackled trying to explain adult life transitions. Whether its menopause, mature love, divorce, widowhood, or care giving – she provides us a view into life after 50 by sharing her insights gathered through hundreds of interviews.
“Stop and recalculate”, Sheehy proposes, in her book New Passages, asking her readers to imagine turning 45 as the beginning of another life. She walks the journey with us, throwing away old myths of aging and giving us a new map for our adult life.
Sandra Timmerman is a gerontologist and founding director of the MetLife Mature Market Institute (MMI). Timmerman is on a mission to present ground-breaking research on aging and longevity. Whether quantifying the potential wealth lost over a lifetime by family caregivers who must reduce their hours or quit work; or uncovering how little pre-retirees know about critical financial information, Timmerman spreads the word with the hopes of increasing choices for the age 50+ population.
Free to all, MMI’s newest studies include Finances and Female Executives and Aging in Place 2.0, Rethinking solutions to the home care challenge. You can find MMI studies, surveys and quizzes at www.metlife.com/mmi
At age 75, Jan Hively is a Civic Ventures Purpose Prize Fellow, and founder of the Vital Aging Network at the University of Minnesota. SHiFT, the organization she co-founded, supports people in mid-life transitions who are looking for greater meaning in life and work.
Understanding the challenges of those in mid-life who want to change careers, one of the programs SHiFT offers is a midternship or internships for the over 50 crowd. In addition to helping people at midlife gain hands-on work experience in a new career, the program creates a benefit for the employer too.
The unifying message each of these women offer is the possibility to rewrite the rules of aging by thinking about tomorrow today. If you are a woman over 50, I invite you to engage in dialogue with other women in our community – in your women’s club, at work, in your religious organization, at your nonprofit, with city leaders and with your neighbors, friends and family. Together we too can create history.