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Successful Aging: Doug McIntyre’s retirement from radio raises issues familiar to many older America

Dear readers,

Doug McIntyre — a noted Southern California Newsgroup columnist, KABC 790 radio host, TV/film writer, producer and emcee — wrote on Dec. 23 of his retirement after 22 years from his “McIntyre in the Morning” radio show. He shared his struggle with that decision. McIntyre’s views are personal, realistic, inspiring and a societal statement.

He writes, “What’s hard is coming to grips with the word ‘retirement.’” “Even partial retirement means I have to face the dreaded ‘R’ word.” “Retirement is something old people do. I’m not old! Or am I?”

There is good reason to be ambivalent when it comes to retirement. Of course, that’s not everyone. Many are eager to retire, welcoming no commute, not having to adjust to another systems or management change and just ready for some freedom to do whatever you want to do, when you want to do it.

And yet many feel that uncertainty or strange feeling when we associate ourselves with retirement. That may be because an old image lingers on. At one time, the term was equated with old age, an older adult who is rigid, less capable, creative and productive than younger folks. Someone who is over the hill. These descriptors belong in the reject pile.

The term “retirement” comes from the French word “retirer” which means to withdraw. The contemporary definition is to not only withdraw, but to retreat, go away or to remove oneself. That’s not exactly a positive perspective on retirement.

Here are just two indications that the concept of retirement and aging is changing. Note retirement is intertwined with aging.

The Encore movement: This national movement was launched by and its founder Marc Freedman 20 years ago. It is an innovation hub tapping the talent pool of those 50+ as a force for good. It promotes encore careers that embrace purpose, passion, a paycheck for the betterment of society; a Gen2Gen initiative to mobilize one million adults 50+ to help young people thrive as well as Encore Fellowships that engage seasoned professionals to paid assignments in the social sector. Encore.Org is building a global network that sees older adults as major contributors to society, solving social problems and contributing their talents, knowledge and wisdom to be a positive force in society, most frequently after their primary job or career. Withdrawal does not fit this picture.

Chip Conley: Wisdom @ Work: Conley, a strategic advisor to Airbnb, recently wrote the book of the same title presenting a compelling narrative of the making of a modern elder. At age 53 he sold his company Joi de Vivre Hospitality and joined Airbnb, turning it into the world’s largest hospitality brand. When he joined Airbnb he had industry experience but was lacking in digital fluency of his twentysomething colleagues. He realized he was hired as a teacher and mentor; a student and an intern. Through this personal and professional experience, he defined a modern elder: someone who learns to marry wisdom and experience with curiosity, a beginner’s mind and a willingness to evolve. Conley has launched the Modern Elder Academy dedicated to navigating midlife transitions; providing the place and tools to reframe a lifetime of experience. The institute advocates to “grow whole, not old.” See Again, we see a redefinition of a traditional retirement into a new life stage and pursuit. Withdrawal does not fit this picture.

McIntyre is a role model for this new stage of life with intentions to write a long-postponed novel and new films. He notes that America’s seniors are good for a lot more than just buying pills and voting against anyone who messes with Social Security. We collectively have to get past the cultural biases. And McIntyre in his own way is doing his part. For that — thank you and kudos.

Note many continue to enjoy a more traditional retirement and have earned it. They have volunteered during their working years and look forward to travel, golf and spending time with friends and family. Yet with longevity and good health, there is a large emerging segment asking, “what’s next?”

We’ll talk about the Frameworks Institute, Experience Corps and several other movements and initiatives that redefine retirement as well as aging in America. That’s next week.

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