I suppose it would be safe to say that gerontology counseling is coming of age, now that the Baby Boomers have begun to spill into their sixties.
But what are the theories and models for gerontological counseling, and what are the core competancies and standards for those working with Boomers and Seniors?
Is there more to this time of life than preretirement and end-of-life issues?
Yes, there sure is.
Each of us reaching this milestone is different. My neighbors, Bill and Nancy, are very different from me, and my wife is not yet a boomer. Bill is retired, and Nancy is close to it. The kids are out of their house They appear to have a traditional kind of retirement, a nice house, travel in the winter, but I am very different.
My children came late in life, and are 10 and 4, and as the saying goes, I am too broke to die.
I will continue to work throughout my senior years, either at my mid-life career switch career, in counseling, or at my third career, website building.
I enjoy both, and can get up and get going on either very early.
My needs in gerontological counseling are going to be different than Bill and Nancy's retirement needs, and the field of gerontological counseling will have to acknowledge that.
Baby Boomers are different in some respects than our parents. We are healthier, we are more educated with different quality of life expectations, we have not faced a global war, or a depression, although we may just get to that latter issue, given the state of the economy in November 2008, and because of world travel and technology, our world views are expanded in ways my parents didn't experience, although my Dad traveled during WWII. Not sure that he would have done that without service requirements though.
Baby Boomers are changing the scope and shape of retirement. While some of us are more affluent than our parents were, recent events including 911 and the current global recession are going to make financial requirements for retirement out of reach for many of us, so we will have to keep working. I do not know about you, but I do not mind working. I just want to work on what I enjoy, rather than a going to a job.
But we were already reconfiguring the nature of work, family, and retirement.
We are the generation having to use our ingenuity, education, and courage to prepare for out Silver years without Social Security as more than a supplement to our income.
Another probem we will need to deal with is Age Discrimination and the stress we will experience in the workplace as we observe age based retirement packages and doors closing because of our age.
Other issues Baby Boomers will deal with is the escalating cost of health care and the provision for health care.
Not sure about you, but I am going to keep working out and practicing my own stress reduction plan and brain fitness plan to minimize health related problems.
I am reading an interesting text today which says that we Baby Boomers may not retire until we are in our '80's.
Well, why would anyone want to quit doing what they enjoy, so start now doing things that you enjoy, right?
As I have aged, I have wondered about the word retirement, and what it means to me. I know that I was somehow supposed to no longer have to 'work' and got to 'relax' all the time.
Energetically, if I retire to a hammock and sleep all the time, that is like death to me.
I cannot imagine not pursuing interests. I may work harder in retirement than I did as an employee.
The difference will be that I am pursuing my own interests, rather than my employers.
It would be nice to have less fear about my financial situation, and that simply means having steady income coming in, and out of debt, the credit card debt kind of debt.
I just bought a new house, so more than likely I will pass along a bill to my children, just like the federal government. However, there is insurance for them, if those companies do not go broke.
Divorce happens at a higher rate in families with Baby Boomer mates.
Gerontological counseling will have to address that issue.
What does love and being together mean for folks my age? I have wondered why my wife, so much younger than I am, stays with me, because the testosterone level is not what it was 30 years ago, and we have very different views on parenting and money and spirituality and social life.
For example, I am perfectly content being alone for long stretches of time, weeks, months even. She is not, and her social schedule and planning is very troublesome for me at times, because we are constantly having company or going to this shindig or that soiree.
But stay she does. I know she appreciates my parenting and we get to work together, which helps.
So what will a deep, rich connection be like for Boomers, and if they part, can that be done respectfully?
Ever heard of the terms neuroplasticity or neurogenesis? Those terms describe capacities of the human brain which can be enhanced.
No one knew too many years ago that our brains grew new brain cells daily, which we get to keep if they are challenged. Those new brain cells then migrate to the hippocampus, where they aid and abet memories. I want my full complement of memories throughout my life.
Neuroplasticity is a term describing what neurons do when challenged with new learning, sometimes within minutes. They reach out to each other and connect, but we do not necessarily get to keep those new connections without practice.
Michael Merzenich,Ph.D. and a founder of the Posit Science company has created a brain fitness program which was recently put to the research test in the IMPACT study done on Seniors. I believe everyone in the study was older than 65, and the results were astounding for the participants. Not only did their brains get more fit, but the training generalized to other areas of their lives.
Very important work that we can do for our own brains.
Never too late for an increase in IQ.
If you do any reading at all about brain fitness, you will soon come across a reference to the pillars of brain fitness, which are physical exercise, nutrition, sleep, stress management, and novel learning experiences.
The most important is the physical exercise. Click the link below to see two seniors who take their exercise seriously. You will find them about half way down the page you art taken to.
When I was beginning my personal growth journey, a wise person told me that when I was feeling resentful or afraid or sad, that I should remember the phrase "gratitude is the attitude" when I was ready to feel better. That phrase has helped me feel better tens of thousands of times.
Would you share what you are most grateful for? Your story could be just what another person is searching for to renew themselves? Thanks.