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This guest post is from Karen Weeks of elderwellness.net.
Reignite Your Passions: How to Flourish in the Empty Nest Phase
The empty nest phase is a time of significant change, as the kids you’ve nurtured for years are now venturing out on their own. But this phase also offers you newfound freedom and a wealth of time that can be molded to fit your interests and aspirations. This guide aims to offer you strategies for making this chapter of life not just tolerable, but enriching and joy-filled.
Cultivate New Interests
An empty nest is like a blank canvas: it’s a chance to revisit those passions you may have left behind in the bustle of parenting. Whether it’s diving into watercolor painting, perfecting your culinary techniques, or strumming a guitar, engaging in a hobby not only fills your time but also provides a deep sense of satisfaction. This reconnection with your interests is not merely a way to pass the time but a method for enhancing your quality of life. Plus, hobbies often present opportunities to socialize and meet like-minded individuals.
Earn An Online Degree
An empty nest might be the perfect launchpad for pursuing a career in teaching or another field that you’re passionate about. Numerous online education programs are tailored specifically for adult learners, offering flexible schedules and varied courses. With digital accessibility, you can complete coursework at your pace and on your timetable. Not only does this quench a thirst for knowledge, but it also opens doors for career advancements or switches, offering a fulfilling and productive second act in life.
Enhance Social Connections
Loneliness can be a challenge in this phase, but it’s also an opportunity to reinvest in your social life. Whether it’s reconnecting with long-lost friends, joining hobby-related clubs, or participating in community events, social engagement offers multifaceted benefits. It not only wards off feelings of isolation but introduces you to a variety of experiences and perspectives, enriching your life further. This newfound social circle can also serve as a network of support, critical for navigating the ups and downs of this stage.
Prioritize Intimate Relationships
The absence of children means you have more time to devote to your significant other, close family, or friends. Whether it’s romantic getaways, meaningful conversations over dinner, or shared moments of tranquility, this time is invaluable for rejuvenating your closest relationships. Reinvesting in these bonds not only offers emotional sustenance but creates a reliable support network, which is pivotal in this new life chapter.
Engage in Volunteerism
A wonderful way to find purpose in this stage of life is by contributing to the community. Volunteering offers a sense of accomplishment and the chance to make a tangible difference. Whether that involves mentoring younger people, contributing at a local shelter, or advocating for ecological change, your life experiences and skills are invaluable assets. Volunteering is not just philanthropy; it’s a two-way street where you give and gain in equal measure. And Cville Village is ready to embrace your energy and talents as valued volunteers for our aging-in-place community. When you’re ready, you can be a member as well and enjoy the benefits of the connections you’ll already have made with other Cville Villagers!
Embrace a Mindful Approach to Life
Many people experience an introspective period when they first become empty nesters. Leveraging mindfulness practices like meditation or yoga can have powerful benefits for your mental and emotional health. These activities foster a balanced state of mind, and their calming effects can serve as an antidote to any anxiety or sadness you might be experiencing.
Transform Your Living Space
Your home, once bustling with the energy of a full family, might feel a bit too large or outdated. Undertaking a renovation project can revitalize your living space, aligning it more closely with your current needs and lifestyle. Plus, the act of transforming your environment can be incredibly satisfying, marking a physical shift that parallels your internal changes.
The empty nest phase of life need not be a period of aimless wandering or feelings of loss. It’s a gateway to myriad opportunities for personal growth, whether through pursuing long-neglected hobbies, fostering fresh social connections, or even embarking on new educational endeavors. It’s a time for focusing on yourself and the relationships that mean the most to you, all while contributing to your community in meaningful ways. In short, it’s a chapter teeming with potential—so why not seize it with both hands?
The end of the year approaches and it’s time to think about required minimum distributions. Did you know you can take some of your RMD as a qualified charitable donation and maybe reduce your tax burden that way? Cville Village, as a 501c3 charitable organization, can receive such donations.
This article from Forbes explains it. Now that we’re starting to orient volunteers and getting ready to launch early next year, we have bills coming due for insurance and a LOT of printing, and your help would be greatly appreciated.
A few days ago the New York Times published an article on stroke in women, asserting they are both more common and more serious, compared to men.
Your editor always reads a selection of the comments on these articles and this time we were surprised at how few commenters – at least among the comments we read – mentioned the tendency of medical professionals to minimize or ignore women’s reported symptoms compared to men’s, given the same degree of severity reported. This is a serious and well-known problem which, in fact, the Times also covered back in 2018.
Lesson being: do not allow yourself to be cowed at the doctor’s office. You know your body; if something is wrong, persist (nevertheless!) until you get an answer. Change providers if that’s what it takes.
Many of us have learned that making friends is more difficult as we’ve gotten older. For one thing, we haven’t got as much time to devote to friendships as we had when we were teenagers and our friendships were all-consuming essentials of life. For another, sharing life histories takes a lot longer now; you may ask yourself if it’s worth the effort.
The New York Times had an article on this topic a few days ago with tips on making and keeping friends. Have a read! Friendships are important, and ever more so as we age. From personal observation we can add that friendships with somewhat younger people, as well as with our age peers, are important. That’s about the fact that risk of death increases with age, hence our younger friends will likely be around longer to spend time with us.
The New York Times had this for us the other day. So much we could be doing in this country to prepare for the demographic transition we’re undergoing right now, the increase in the numbers of Americans 65 and over. The talk used to be all about living longer. Now we look around and see that living longer per se is a terrible goal, if the extra years are full of pain and misery.
No, the goal should be living healthy longer. While most of us will accumulate health issues from at least middle age on, we can try to minimize the impact they have on our overall functioning, and strive for good (or maybe ‘good-enough’) health into our old age. Sadly, our health care system isn’t helping, says the author of this linked op-ed:
“Best estimates indicate that the average American can expect to celebrate only a single birthday (emphasis added) in good health after the traditional retirement age of 65. Meanwhile, Singapore, Britain and Japan (along with Canada, Costa Rica and Chile) already report average health spans of at least 70 years.”
The op-ed goes on to suggest several actions we could advocate for with our state and federal legislators. But one of the contributors to ill-health in older adults, loneliness, is something we as a community of elders can take on. And that’s part of what Cville Village is all about.
A while ago Netflix had on a series called I Care A Lot. In summary, it was about a woman who made a living taking over legal guardianship of older adults and thus gaining access to all their resources, using them for her benefit and not theirs.
Here is an article in the New Yorker from 2017 about this problem. It can happen to you even if you have family nearby, and can afford to pay for attorneys to defend you. It does require a pretty awful / corrupt judge and maybe we’re safe here in our little town. But it’s not a bad idea to maintain some awareness.
A Village membership won’t absolutely protect you from this eventuality. By getting your practical needs met, it will help others see you as capable and confident and as such, less of a target. So please support Cville Village where we all help each other!
We’ve just done a minor renovation to this website. We added:
— FAQs under the Welcome/FAQs tab;
— A fillable volunteer interest form on the Volunteer page.
And we began the modification of the page header with our new logo. More to come with the header.
Please check out the FAQs and if you’re planning to volunteer, the interest form is waiting for you!
Acknowledged: Not everyone loves Facebook.
But now that we’re ramping up to start being an actual Village and also working on renovating this website, keeping up here AND on Facebook, where we have 82 followers, is too much for one person (me). So I invite you all to join Facebook, or go back to it if you haven’t been there for awhile, and check out our page: Cville Village. https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100070023673136
Since I’m here already, I’ll post a brief update. We’re recruiting volunteers now, from anywhere in/around town. If you’re interested, here are a couple of ways to proceed:
Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know of your interest.
Attend one of our informational sessions at The Center this month:
Wednesday, September 27 at 5:30 pm or
Friday, September 29 at 11 am
Same program at each session so you only need to attend one. Come and find out what it’s all about, and how YOU can make a difference in your neighbors’ lives.
Medicare turns 58 on Sunday, July 30. It’s had its ups and downs, we all know. There are two immediate threats to its safety for which we all should consider taking action.
The first is the pushback from pharmaceutical companies against the provision in the Inflation Reduction Act that requires Medicare to negotiate on drug prices. Such negotiation has never been done before and we are the losers because of it, paying the highest prices in the world for the meds we need to keep us functioning. The pharmas are crying poverty, doom and gloom if they must negotiate, and have filed suit in various places against the Biden Administration over it. This over just 10 drugs, and the negotiated prices won’t even take effect until 2026. Pardon us while we get out the world’s smallest violin to play a sad, sad tune.
The second is the con known as Medicare Advantage. This is the private version of Medicare and it’s being pushed hard on us. It may look like a good deal, but as this article from Consumer Reports details, there are some hidden drawbacks that at the very least we all need to be aware of to make an informed choice. Most concerning is the evidence that Advantage plans overcharge Medicare for the care they cover by listing patients as sicker than they are. For a strategy that was meant to save Medicare money, it’s been a dismal failure, but great for the insurers’ CEOs’ compensation. There are also places around the country where Medicare recipients have been moved to Advantage plans without their consent.
So caveat emptor is the watchword. Traditional Medicare is far from perfect, of course; whoever decided that eyes and teeth were not important enough to cover was no friend of the older adult. But it’s something, we would be the worse without it, and it’s worthy of our support. So think of Medicare on Sunday, and maybe write to your legislators to remind them that it needs their support, too. A good place to start might be for them to get behind the Biden plan to extend Medicare solvency, which you can read about here.
And happy birthday and thank you, Medicare!
This is something we can all do, easily: sign a petition. It’s a petition to AARP, asking them to take a leadership role in the climate change arena. Their membership is huge and they’d be a force if they were to get behind the movement to preserve what we can before it’s definitively too late.
Cleverly, the petition lets you indicate that you are a member, or that if you’re not (full disclosure: your editor is not), that you would join if they get involved. We happily ticked the ‘I’d join if you did something’ box.
Here’s the link: https://supportaarpclimateaction.org/petition/