The Decades: Cheers and Challenges (50-60’s)

I’m sure you’ve all been wondering what happened to the rest of the series of “The Decades”.   Does life end at 50? Absolutely not and no, I haven’t forgotten!  Everyone needs a vacation and I made it a point to rest from blogging for a short bit to really enjoy mine (I believe it’s healthy to rest from blogging once in awhile=)).  After a great trip to Singapore and Hong Kong, I’m finally back home. In the next few weeks, I hope to share some of my insights about aging on the other side of the world. Pictures and posts are coming, so stay tuned!

Now let’s get on with the much awaited decades post for the beloved 50’s.  The Let’s Hear It From You poll awhile back indicated that after the 20’s to 30’s, the 50’s were actually considered the next “best decade” by you all.  Intriguing, isn’t that?  I think the 20’s to 30’s actually were voted the top decade because of the age of most of you reading! One thing to note is that these insights on my posts are not at all meant to be generalized to everyone in a particular decade. After all, we all go through life stages at different times. These posts are just meant to get you thinking and possibly help you to start dreaming about your 50’s! Here we go.

50-60’s

Cheers:

  • You’re probably at the top of your game vocationally.  Whether you’re a mom, a teacher, a business person, an engineer, or whatever you’ve been doing during this decade, it’s likely you’re at the top of your game!   You’ve worked pretty darn hard for years already and you’re not trying to “claw up the corporate ladder” like you were trying to do in the beginning of your career. If you are a mom, you now know the most effective way to do the laundry, clean the house, cook, and manage the family’s schedule with much more ease than when you started years ago. In short, you’ve got experience!
  • Experience.  This time I’m referring to not only vocational experience but experience in general. I would say that in your 50’s you’re starting to develop and gather the age old wisdom that people in their 70’s and 80’s+ often have.   You’ve gone through life and you have learned the life lessons that could really help others.  
  • Your kids are on their way to adulthood.  I’m sure people in their 50’s have kids who vary in ages, so the easy way to put it is that during this decade your kids are becoming grownups!  You are watching them bloom into adults and hopefully you’re seeing the work of disciplining your kids pay off. Some parents may be sending their kids off to college and I’m thinking watching your “baby” grow up is probably humbling and rewarding.  
  • You can enjoy life.  Whether you have kids or not, you probably have more money and time to spend on yourself now.  I’ve noticed that many parents in their 50’s are now emptynesters and while it may be hard at first, many of them start to date their spouses again, travel, and participate in activities they previously did not have time for. A coworker of mine at 50 said her kids are grown up now and so now she has time to play soccer which she loves.  
  • You start to understand and think about old people more.  Some people don’t think about the older generation until they know someone there.  Because you are watching your parents age in your 50’s,  you start to become more aware of older people and the difficulties of aging.   I’ve heard many middle aged people talk about aging but honestly rarely do I overhear younger people discuss old age.  Because you have close relationships with people are older, you now have the opportunity to understand and care for the elderly better.  

Challenges:

  • Midlife crisis?  I have a feeling that at 50, you look around and realize that whether you like it or not, you’re not young anymore.  You’ve hit the half way point for life and whether it’s menopause or the other changes you’re experiencing from aging, it may be overwhelming.  Do all people at 50 come to a point where you think you’re old for at least a second?  I’m not sure, but I’m thinking that at 50, I may look in the mirror and ask “Am I old?” and then look at all the youngins around me and mope for a bit.  Hopefully, I’ll come back to this blog post remember that 50 can be amazing! I’ve had so many people tell me this. 
  • Retirement?  You’ve worked so many years and now the idea of retirement (even if it is 15+ years away) may be a bit stressful. Do you have enough to live on? How much longer do you  have to work? All important questions.  
  • Your parents are aging.  While I think I was able to understand the stresses of being in the “sandwich generation” at a much younger age, I’ve noticed that in your 50’s, many people may be looking after their parents a bit more than they used to.  Your parents will likely be in their 70’s or 80’s and whether you need to help them manage their money, their health, or their groceries, it can be overwhelming. You know how to parent your kids but caring for your parents is a new thing to you.  I’ve seen a good number of adult children extremely frustrated with their parents because they are overwhelmed. Caring for parents is not the same as caring for your kids.  You can’t tell your parents what to do and you definitely cannot boss your parents around.  During this time, I feel like people start to understand more the challenges of older age and sadly, because of the stresses, people start to think that being old is truly horrible.  
  • You may be losing parents too.  In your 50’s, many people may be experiencing the death of a parent. Having worked in hospice care for about a year now and having lost my grandpa recently, I know that the death of a loved one can be extremely life changing and difficult. When it’s your parent, I am sure this is especially true.  The grief involved in losing them can make this period tough.  
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