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Working After 50

Author: Helen Dennis, Specialist on Aging

I would like to share some thoughts as a result from participating in the AARP conference Work@50+ recently held at the Long Beach Convention Center. The attendance was exceptional  – 1,000 people with at least three quarters of them looking for work.


It’s one thing to read the unemployment figures to be well informed. It’s another to stand on a podium and see 1000 faces of individuals, most seeking employment. The group was diverse and highly engaged; their desire, motivation and intensity were palpable. These one thousand individuals were treated as guests with no conference fee, no parking fee, unlimited coffee and lunch too.


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Living a Self-Fulfilling Prophesy

Author: Helen Dennis, Specialist on Aging

Sometimes we become what we believe, particularly when it comes to aging. Studies have shown that older people who believe in negative stereotypes about aging tend to fulfill them.

Dr. Walter Bortz, II, a noted Stanford geriatrician writes about aging as a self-fulfilling prophesy. As part of an initial assessment of his older patients, he asks, “Who do you think you are going to be when you are 80, 90 or 100?” He reports that patients often reply that they do not believe they will be around at those ages or they may be living in a “forlorn nursing home with an oxygen tube up my nostril, while endlessly contemplating the Styrofoam squares in the ceiling.”


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Include Social Security in retirement planning

Author: Helen Dennis, Specialist on Aging

Question: I am 55 years old and thinking about my retirement. Given my projected income, I will have to depend on Social Security to some extent. What are the basic facts and will it be there for me? My friends doubt it.

- J.D.

Dear J.D.:

This topic is a hot one that won’t go away.

First, a bit of history. Social Security was created by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1935 as a social insurance program for workers at age 65.
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Learning to date after losing a spouse

Author: Helen Dennis, Specialist on Aging

Question: My father is 80 years old and lost his wife of 60 years about six months ago. He moved to a retirement community with lots of available women. The problem is that his first try at dating has backfired. He is distraught over what he perceives as a failure. I think he moved too fast, wanting to live with this woman after dating for only a few weeks. I would like to gently advise him without preaching. I might add, my mother did everything for him and was a full-time homemaker. Do you have any suggestions?

- M.C.

Dear M.C.:

Loneliness after losing a spouse is real. Your father may dread being alone and yearns not only for your mother, but for company.
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Some new aspects and trends about retirement

Author: Helen Dennis, Specialist on Aging

Dear Readers:

Last week I had the opportunity to participate in the Daily Breeze’s fourth annual Successful Aging Expo. It was a great success.

Health and fitness were strong themes, as were financial, social, residential and educational opportunities. It was great to see nonprofit organizations represented.
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Playing and laughing aren’t just for kids

Author: Helen Dennis, Specialist on Aging

Question: I recently had coffee with two good friends. The three of us are in our late 60s and recently retired from substantial positions. My friends described their activities with comments about their value – or lack of value. For example, one friend said, “I’m going to a popular television show with my daughter … and of course this is of no particular social value.” The other mentioned, “This sounds silly but I’m playing Frisbee with my granddaughter and having a great time and feel a bit guilty.”

What’s our problem with just having a good time and playing?

- H.A.

Dear H.A.:

Your question comes at a perfect time. This month is Older Americans Month. The theme is “Never Too Old to Play.”
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Develop a plan for how to age successfully

Author: Helen Dennis, Specialist on Aging

Dear Readers:

Successful aging is like world peace. Everyone is for it, but they’re not sure how to make it happen.

However, while most of us can explain what world peace means, that’s not the case with successful aging.

One reason is that “success” is an ambiguous term. Additionally, the shifting meaning of successful aging has paralleled changes in theories about social and psychological aging.
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Want to be an entrepreneur? Here are some tips

Author: Helen Dennis, Specialist on Aging

Dear Readers:

Last week we discussed entrepreneurship for those in the second half of life. Today’s column offers tips from experts.

An important first step is to ask yourself a few questions, suggested by Mary Beth Izard, author of “BoomerPreneurs” (Acheve Consulting, 2010) as noted in a May 2012 Money Magazine article:
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Entrepreneurship can be rewarding work

Author: Helen Dennis, Specialist on Aging

Dear Readers:

I recently participated in a conference on a subject that just doesn’t go away – employment.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for those 55 and older increased from 5.9 percent in February to 6.2 percent in March. That is below the U.S. unemployment rate for all ages, which is 8.2 percent.

It may sound like good news for older adults that their unemployment rate is lower than the national average. Yet we know they have a shorter time to make up for losses from their investments, that it takes them longer than younger folks to find a job, that many are underemployed, and that some have given up looking for work altogether.

Entrepreneurship may be a viable option.
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Using a Cane

Author: Helen Dennis, Specialist on Aging

“A cane makes me feel old.” Some of us have heard this before.  Yet we know using a cane can be a life line.

Kathy Gantner, a physical therapist with Torrance Memorial Medical Center agrees.  She strongly urges her patients to continue using a cane to walk distances, to keep pain at a minimum or to walk without limping.  She adds, “People look younger walking with a cane than walking without one.  Without some assistive device, they may walk bent over, drag their feet or walk more slowly.”  The latter could be a serious problem particularly in a cross street with a stop light.  “You might not get across in time,” she added.  And if one is hardly moving, “the balance system is not provoked and that’s important to stay healthy.”
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