fb pixel

Log In

Reset Password

Older, better and more visible

In Spanish, the word for "retirement" is "jubilacion" — or "jubilation," if you will. I've recently started lessons in Español, and that's my favorite word so far (although I've also become very fond of any words that give me an opportunity to trill my Rs).

If you're thinking about retirement, words such as "anticipation" and "jubilation" may come naturally. But some people tell me that other "-ation" words enter their minds when considering this life transition, such as "trepidation."

Be it known that jubilation is the preferred word for you to use. If you're pondering retirement, using it raises expectation. If you've already retired, it reinforces how you could/should be feeling. And if you're well into retirement but not feeling very jubilant "… I have ideas.

As a starter, if we all used anticipatory words more often, our entire life process might go more smoothly. I've been trying to thread "jubilacion" into conversations lately, which is not all that difficult. (The "j" is silent, by the way — pronounced more like the "h" in "happy.")

Whatever your aging circumstance, research suggests learning a new language in your later years keeps you more cognitively intact than almost anything else you do. For me, it was less intention than serendipity, but I'm now receiving weekly mentoring from a lovely Spanish speaker (a retired educator) whose positivism about other cultures and languages is absolutely contagious. Bueno!

Have you seen the television advertisement indicating 10,000 people are retiring every day? I did a fact check and learned it's actually 11,476 people who are retiring each day (Pew Research Center, www.pewresearch.org).

I know retirement poses challenges on a variety of personal and economic fronts, but every time I hear that commercial I feel good, because it means people may be retiring from jobs that will be filled by unemployed younger persons who will then experience their own kind of jubilation.

Pew Center research indicates that in 2030, 18 percent of the nation will be at least 65, the traditional age of retirement. The experts at Pew don't have to tell us "aging Americans will dramatically change the composition of the country."

If you ask these retiring folks, you'll find they believe "old age does not begin until age 72." And most feel "nine years younger than his or her chronological age." Maybe you feel that way. If so, mucho bueno!

I have a suggestion. Let's bump up the impact of so many aging people transitioning into a new life phase. Let's become a more visible force. Both individually and collectively, let's make a jubilant difference.

Here's the idea: Some of us might choose to look to our age peers who are less-than-happy on any given day and try to change that. You could initiate front-and-center outreach and some active problem-solving on behalf of a friend or neighbor.

Maybe you'll choose to do something more personally impactful. If it's not learning a new language, maybe it's learning to play a musical instrument, starting a micro business or volunteering for something totally outside your comfort zone.

Older, better, more visible — and making a difference. Mucho gusto!

Sharon Johnson is an associate professor in health and human sciences at Oregon State University and on the faculty of the OSU Extension. Email her at s.johnson@oregonstate.edu or call 541-776-7371, ext. 210.