Cusack and Thompson (2003) draw attention to the need for mental fitness as part of the aging process. This mental fitness includes ongoing stimulation, learning, problem solving, and creating. This is not a time to shut down mental capacity, but rather a time to make mental adjustments and to keep learning. Staying mentally active is an important part of third age living.
But is mental fitness the only type of fitness that we should be concerned about? It strikes me that the fitness metaphor can be expanded to include physical fitness, social fitness, financial fitness, and spiritual fitness. A full life requires fitness and ongoing activity in all of these domains. It may be time for a life / career checkup or even a consultation with a life / career fitness trainer (coach).
With physical fitness, some of the training strategies may change but there is remains a need for regular exercise and workouts. Aging is a natural process and with it can come more aches and pains, and longer recovery periods. Physical fitness for the third age is different and has its own rhythms that must be embraced.
Social fitness also can play an important part in life / career fulfillment during this third age. This is not a time to “go it alone” or to walk away from others. There is a need to reach out to family and friends, and in some instances to cultivate new relationships.
Finances can also be an issue and there is a continued need for planning and in some situations finding ways to share wealth with those in need. For many people the challenge is finding ways to financially support adult children in a responsible manner while they attempt to make their way in the world.
The third age is also a time for spiritual reflection, a time to explore the bigger questions and to find ways of living with purpose, gratitude and joy. Achieving these goals is not simply a matter of setting another action plan, it is a time for stillness and being more aware of one’s self and the needs of the world.
Cusack, S. & Thompson, W. ( 2003). Mental fitness for life: 7 steps to healthy aging. Toronto: Key Porter Books.