Aging & Older Adult Services

We’re a nation that will soon have more older people than young ones, and much of the popular media portrays this as a disaster story. Marc Freedman, founder and CEO of Civic Ventures, explains why it's actually an opportunity. (This commentary also appeared in Yes! magazine.)

Focusing on our achievements, inner wisdom and creativity often helps us focus on the bright spots of being 50 and older. Take The Purpose Prize. Awards are given to people 60 and older who have started meaningful encore careers that create new ways to solve challenging social problems around the world. The stories of these people are inspirational.

We’re a nation that will soon have more older people than young ones, and much of the popular media portrays this as a disaster story that goes something like this: Tens of millions of people, the single biggest group in society and a mighty political force, are about to dominate the scene. Marc Freedman, founder and CEO of Civic Ventures, outlines how boomers are discovering ways to apply their skills and life experience to purposeful encore careers.

A growing number of New Zealanders in what used to be called middle age, or even old age, are in full flight in demanding encore careers. Author Marc Freedman explores this concept, as it is happening in the United States, in his book, The Big Shift. Freedman, founder and CEO of Civic Ventures, says that people hitting 60 today are not simply rewriting the rules of retirement and aging; they are defining something entirely new.

Soon there may be a paradigm shift in Danish retirement culture. Retirees – in addition to their newfound freedom – seek to engage in a meaningful way that goes beyond a personal interest, in a paid job or as a volunteer. This change is supported by an interesting new theory of the Third Age in Marc Freedman's book, The Big Shift.

Companies are accustomed to helping older workers plan for retirement but not for transitions, says Marc Freedman, author of The Big Shift: Navigating the New Stage Beyond Midlife and chief executive of Civic Ventures. “Reinvention sounds very romantic, but it’s also hard,” he says. “So it helps to prepare as much as you can.”

With their years of experience, boomers who transition to teaching as a second career have much to offer their students. Their reasons for wanting to teach are as diverse as their professional backgrounds. They are retired engineers, Army lieutenants, business executives public servants and more. Judy Goggin, vice president at Civic Ventures, says that as the number of retiring boomers increases, so does the number of wannabe educators looking for encore careers.

Helen Karr
Elder Abuse Specialist

Purpose Prize Fellow 2011

For 25 years, Helen Karr managed beauty salons, where she heard countless stories from older women about how they were being financially abused by their children or caregivers – the same people who had been entrusted to look after their finances. Their painful stories struck a chord in her heart and compelled her to find a way to help.

“I knew I needed to become an attorney to be able to help financially exploited elder women in a legal manner,” she says.

Judith Clinco , Arizona Direct Care Worker Association
Arizona Direct Care Worker Association
Purpose Prize Fellow 2011

Nationwide, 3 million direct care workers look after the elderly, and people with chronic illnesses and disabilities, in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, adult care homes, group homes and private homes. As the population ages, another 1 million will be needed in the next five years. And yet the care givers themselves are hardly respected and poorly paid.

Im Ja P. Choi , Penn Asian Senior Services
Founder and Executive Director
Penn Asian Senior Services
Purpose Prize Fellow 2011

Nine years ago, Im Ja P. Choi faced the most difficult decision of her life: whether to put her mother – who only spoke Korean and weighed just 62 pounds after stomach cancer surgeries – in a nursing home. Choi was thrilled to discover that her mother was eligible for home health care covered by Medicaid.

But soon another hurdle emerged: Not a single agency in the Philadelphia area employed Korean-speaking aides. It took Choi seven months to find someone.

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