Posted by: nickgerlich | September 20, 2007

60 Is The New 40

I always make fun of the place where my parents live. It’s in Florida (which should tell you something already). It’s one of those gated communities populated primarily by retirees. Everything is regulated, from the kind of grass growing in your lawn, to clothes lines in the backyard. And their next door neighbor gets all bent out of shape when we show up there in our motorhome, because he fears his property value will go down. Rules are rules, you know.

Yep, welcome to Geritolville.

It sends shivers up and down my spine to think that we might spend our golden years in a settlement like that. I certainly hope not. Don’t get me wrong: I want to live a long, active life. I just can’t fathom living it behind a gate where everything is squeaky clean, predictable, and moving at less than 20mph.

GeezerjockSo it is with great relief that I have been reading GeezerJock Magazine the last year or so, and I have found hope for the aging. While there may not be a cure for the graying, balding, squinting, and straining to hear, there is a growing number of senior athletes who refuse to pull over at the rest stop of life.

Author Mark Penn speaks of the “New Old Dads” in MicroTrends, but that is only the tip of the iceberg. There’s a counter culture out there defying the rules about getting old; they’re running, biking, hiking, climbing, jumping, and swimming as if they were still in their 30s.

You may laugh and say they’re just trying to outrun the Grim Reaper, and you may be right to a point. But while Mr. Reaper will one day catch all of us with this inevitability, why go willingly? Why not make him work for his prey?

All this makes me wonder what the “retirement villages” of the future will look like. I doubt they will be nice sedate developments with afternoon shuffleboard tournaments. With 78 million active Baby Boomers reeling in the years, there’s a lot of market potential out there for folks with extreme lifestyles. And it’s about to explode.

I already see evidence of it in adventure travel. I know a guy from Arizona who has done multiple adventures with Tour d’Afrique, a bike tour company specializing in very demanding journeys across entire continents (Africa, Europe, and Asia). A quick look at their tour rosters shows that most of the folks on board are in their 50s and 60s. These are not tours for those with weak stomachs (or bankrupt checking accounts, for that matter).

Forget the bus tour to Branson (unless the Rolling Stones decide to build a theater there). Never mind bingo and line dancing. There’s a future in getting old, with nothing to lose, and everything to gain.

Now if I can just convince my parents’ neighbor to lighten up a bit.

Dr “We’re Parking It There Whether He Likes It Or Not” Gerlich

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Responses

  1. Thanks for this post, it brought a smile to this 50-year old face. It is really amazing how much the idea of life at 60 or even seventy has changed in a single generation.


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