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A Elderhood Protirement Guide

Elderhood is a new life stage after Adulthood (ages 65-84).

To paraphrase “A Finale Story” written by Michael H. Annison:

There is a wonderful story that captures the spirit of the protirement elderhood evolution.

The people of a small community periodically faced issues. Each time there were challenges, the village leaders would go to a wise man to seek guidance. His advice consistently proved helpful and the leaders became to believe he knew about everything.

One day a younger man decided to devise a plan to marginalize/discredit the old man. He would ask a question that the old man could not answer correctly. The plan involved going to the old man with a live bird in his hand behind his back. He would ask the old man, “Is the bird dead or alive?” If the man said dead, he would release the bird. If the man said alive, he would crush the bird. The man thought for a while and replied, “It is all depends on you.”

“The final story” summarizes where second-halfers are today. Second-halfers will create the future. The question is: what will the legacy be?

Less than 5% of the population plans ahead. However, most leadership materials emphasize making a plan and working your plan. It also recommends a can do, will do attitude.Therefore, it is not surprising that few plan and prepare for the second half of life. However, there are a couple of additional reasons when it comes to old age planning.

Second-halfers suffer from the anxiety of their mortality plus images of the seven D’s: Decline, Dependence, Disease, Disability, Dementia, Dysfunction, and Dying.

Most motivational literature agrees one becomes what one thinks about most. A positive attitude reinforces this self-fulfilling prophecy. However, a plan and preparation are still an essential part of the formula.

In our second-half journey there are a number of options we need to research:

Fundamental Retirement/Protirement Planning by Robert W. Chism is a classic primer for grandparents, parents and young adults over age eleven for finishing extremely well, achieving spiritual, physical, mental, and financial health. The book was written as a self-study life retirement/protirement planning reference guide. God has given us special talents to use in fulfilling our specific plan. The following are helpful keys to your planning: Salvation, Stewardship (Budget, Legacy, Will, Final Instructions), Wellness, Works. Focusing on one's strengths and starting early in the first-half of life assures greater success for finishing extremely well in the second-half.

Spiritual Gifts Analysis is a free discovery tool of your God given spiritual talents. The site is

A Group Life course at your church is another alterative. Contact North Bridge Church in Antioch, ILL for details on "Rediscover Your Mission."

“Add Years to Your Life and Life to Your Years,” by Charles Arn, he is a leading author on congregational outreach, health, and growth. Charles is founder of Church Growth Inc. and, and Professor of Outreach and Ministry at the new Wesley Seminary in Marion, Indiana is also an opportunity. The following is excerpted from Longevity Response-Ability:

“Life is like a bicycle…you don’t fall off until you stop pedaling.” -- Claude Pepper

Richard Sears (of Sears Roebuck & Co.) began his career in catalog sales one day when he was working at the local railroad station. A shipment of watches was received by mistake, and he made a deal with the manufacturer to purchase the watches. His small watch catalog became the beginning of an extraordinarily rapid growing mail order business. His unusually keen sense of the needs and desires of his clientele made the Sears & Roebuck catalog a household item.

But changes in American transportation and communication brought the city closer to the rural areas, and it became evident that Sears would have to establish retail stores to keep up with the rapidly changing facer of our country. His superb catalog marketing skills were no longer needed…and he retired. Richard Sears died only a few years later, a man without a mission.

Perhaps you, too, have known people who have worked hard, retired, and then promptly died; while others who pursue-meaningful work lived on into their 80s and 90s.

In America, we define ourselves primarily by our work. Once true only of men, now increasingly true of women, our work is who we are. We are “doctors,” accountants,” “custodians,” “teachers.” Our work enables us to feel part of the total scheme of things. From our work, we develop important philosophical, religious, ethical, and vocational values. We are what we do.

Not only does work help us define ourselves; it also becomes the measure of our self-image and self-esteem. And meaningful work helps us to maintain contact with the real world.

Then comes retirement….

It seems like such a wonderful dream: no more work…sleep late…times to one- self. But for many, following retirement, something goes terribly wrong. The fishing that one hoped to do becomes boring. The golf game becomes meaningless. The important list of things to do remain undone.

I interviewed a retired woman while researching a book I wrote entitled Live Long and Love It. The woman was recalling her husband’s retirement:

Retirement seemed to make him a different person. Before he retired, he was always well-organized…never wasted a moment. He always seemed to be in total control of his life and his world. But when he stopped working, he seemed totally lost…like he didn’t know what to do with himself.

And that was a problem for me. I mean, I loved my husband very much, but I wasn’t used to having him around twenty-four hours a day. He really got on my nerves.

Before he retired, we had a good marriage. But after his retirement, things became pretty rocky between us.

Part of the trouble was what he did with his time…which wasn’t much of anything. Activities seemed to bore him. Oh, at first, he tried to keep himself busy with hobbies and sports, but that didn’t last long.

He used to really love stamp collecting and always complained about not having enough time for it. But after he retired, he soon found that hobby to be boring. It was the same with sports. For a while he played a lot of golf and tennis. But after a few months he lost interest in that, too. It wasn’t long before all he did was sit in front of the television.

Oh, he did plan our finances quite well…I have no money problems. But he didn’t really do any planning for his retirement. He never found anything to do that seemed meaningful to him.

My husband had an excellent job, and he was good at what he did. But, then, suddenly he was given his gold watch and forced to stop working. I guess he just didn’t feel needed anymore. He died the day before his 68th birthday.

Unfortunately, this woman’s story is very typical. Retirement to a life of unending vacation-like leisure can be lethal. The latest research seems to indicate that the average person who retires with nothing meaningful to do dies within seven years of his/her retirement. Many die within the first year. In fact, the very concept of retirement, as it now exists, keeps older people from great productivity well into their later years.

Does that mean we are doomed to forever punch a time clock to survive? No. But it does mean that retirement—to be successful—needs to receive our careful planning. In fact, the traditional concept of working and then retiring is becoming outdated. More people are simply “changing” careers as they live longer.

Another Option

But continuing in an occupation, once you’re 60 or 65 years old, isn’t necessarily the only alternative to a boring and meaningless existence. Good planning for retirement means more than just financial planning. Here is an important key to making later years of life a time of productivity and joy. The secret is … having a dream!

Most people have a “dream” they’ve had in the back (or front) of their mind for some few years. Travel across the country. Visit to a special place. Learn a new language. Write a book. From a physical and mental health point of view, it is not only pleasant to have a dream for one’s retirement…it is a necessity!

A friend of mine has for years had what he calls his “someday place.” This “someday place” is a piece of property in Oregon where some day he is going to build a home and retire. Every summer, he goes and camps on the property, cuts back overgrown blackberries, envisions where his house will be built, and visualizes the completed dream. Everyone needs a “someday place” (or a similar dream for the future). That’s part of what keeps us vital, alive, and looking ahead.

In contrast, retired people who don’t have a “dream”—a purpose for living—often die sooner!

So, here’s a three-step process for dreaming your way to an exciting life after retirement. Actually, you don’t have to be retired to discover the wonderful rewards of a dream.

Define Your Dream: In this coming week, carry a small tablet and a pen around with you. On the front of your tablet, put the words in capital letters: MY DREAMS.

Inside are your “dream sheets.” Put a title at the top of the first page that says “Things I Want to Do.” Title the second page “Issues I Believe In.” Title the third page “People I Want to See.” Title page four “Skills I Want to Learn,” and page five “Places I Want to Go.”

Begin by writing down anything that comes to your mind on each of these pages. Then, as you go about your daily activities during the week, carry your “dream book” with you. Write down anything that fits into one of these areas. Talk with your friends and relatives about your project. Ask if anything you have ever said or done reminds them of something that could be added to your dream pages.

At the end of the week (you may want to keep your sheets “active” for several weeks), sit down and review your list. Combine any entries that may overlap. Delete any that seem unimportant after further consideration. Then put your dreams onto one sheet of paper.

Next, select two to four dreams from the list that most energize you. Put a “1” in front of the most important dream, a “2” in front of the next most significant dream. Complete your prioritizing for the 2-4 dreams you’ve selected.

Once you have done this, during the next few days meditate on these four dreams. Mentally picture yourself pursuing them. What are you doing? How do you feel about it? Who else is involved?

If, after several days, you still feel enthusiastic about these dreams, set a dream date for each of your four dreams. That is, when would you like to see that dream become a reality?

Now, you can begin to take the next step toward reaching your dreams….

Clarify Your Dream: Begin with your #1 Dream. Take a separate sheet of paper and list all the things that will be involved in reaching your dream. Let’s suppose your #1 dream is “to visit France” and your dream date is “two years from now.” Visiting France is something you’ve always wanted to do but never seemed to have the time.

Begin a “To Do” list of all the things that might be involved in “visiting France.” (They don’t have to be in chronological order right now.)

Once you have listed all the things that come to your mind concerning that dream, go back and put a completion date for when each “to do” could be accomplished. Keep in mind your dream date.

The next step is easy. Just put your “to-do” list on a chart.

Pursue Your Dream: An ancient Chinese proverb says, “The longest journey begins with the first step.” Many people don’t get anything accomplished because the task seems so large and insurmountable. But you’ve already “killed that paper tiger.” Just go back to your timeline and look at when your first “to do” should be accomplished. You might even begin on it today.

That’s the way to get your dream going…make a pact with yourself. Better yet, tell someone else about your plan. Show them your dreams and “to do” lists. Ask others to check up on you occasionally to see how you’re doing with your dream.

Once you begin, you’ll probably find that it goes much faster than you expected, and you may be on your way to France sooner than you think!

Service Areas for Second-Half Ministry Based upon the reality of a new “life stage (65-84),” the following unique issues appear urgent service areas for second-half ministry:

Aging & development Reading Certification;

Longevity Response-Ability Crusade;

USA Elderhood Missionary Harvest Campaign;

Adult wellness and caring: Communication, fall prevention, mental issues, nutritional issues, physical issues, sexuality issues, sleep issues, social issues and spiritual issues;

Congregational profiling;

Creation of an estate and planned-gift design service as well as a church foundation for facility maintenance, renovation, and expansion;

Cultivation of an intergenerational ‘We-Serve’ culture;

Death and dying preparation;

Early second-half preparation;

Establishment of a system to have meaningful contact with those leaving fulltime employment (age 67 approximately) and six months thereafter;


Grief sharing;

Helping oneself and others finish extremely well;

Individual lay ministry leadership philosophy;

Military family support;

New beginnings and positive longevity attitude nurturing;

Practicing stewardship and service: A benevolent and generous lifestyle culture in estate planning, budgeting, and legacy planning;

Volunteer management: Recruitment, Development, and Placement; and

Volunteering and working alongside gifted pastors.

If second half ministry is not your sweet spot, passion, or legacy, here is a list of activities that also foster second half of life engagement:

Arts &Crafts: Act, Draw, Paint, Photography, Writing;

Employment/ Business Venture/ Self-Employment: Part/Full, Current Profession/ New Field, Freelance, Teach, Consult;

Education: Advanced degree, Certificate/License, Online/Campus, Self-help Books/Workshops, Small group;

Physical/Sport: Bicycling, Fish, Golf, Swimming, Walking/Hiking;

Hobbies: Board games, Collecting, Facebook/Website, Family Scrapbooking, Gardening;

Relationship: Alumni associations,

Charitable organizations, Extended family/relatives, Faith-based organizations, Service groups;

Spiritual/Faith-Based: Christian Grandparenting Network, Finishers Project, New Beginnings, YES! Young Enough to Serve;

Travel: Family (Grandchildren, Children, Parent) Trips, Historical Sites, Learning Vacations, Missions Trip, National Parks;

Volunteer/Mentor: American Red Cross, Environment Alliance for Senior Involvement, Feeding the Hungry, Habitat for Humanity, and Retired and Senior Volunteer Program.

Our ultimate Second-Half or Fourth Age assignment is preparing to meet God in Heaven. The Fourth Age or completion age is a time of integration (Polishing of, coming to terms with life, acceptance of eternity). The completion age is possibly the least understood and most feared, because of our reluctance to think about death. For reassurance, Read "God’s Call to Eternity," An Essay by Bob Chism.

#protirement #NewLifeStageElderhood

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