Finding a new purpose local seniors age with grace, resolve

Baby boomers continue to make impactful change in American society as they age, affecting everything from how the workforce operates to how people shop. An estimated 46 million Americans age 65 or older are living in the United States and the Centers for Disease Control forecasts that number to more than double to 98 million by 2060.

As Americans are living longer, they are finding ways to reinvent themselves at each new life phase. The image of aging in a rocking chair on a front porch, aimlessly watching live pass by, is an outdated one.

More seniors are finding a new lease on life as they age, with results that benefit themselves and society. By 2022, for example, 27 percent of men over the age of 65 and 20 percent of women in the age bracket still will be an active part of the labor force.

Careers aren’t the only way older Americans are finding purpose as they age. Volunteerism, travel and looking after younger members of the family tree are just a few other ways for some seniors to keep investing in their own lives and enriching those around them. While the means vary by person, the benefits of purposeful aging are universal.

A study conducted by two psychology professors found that people who had a sense of purpose posed a 15 percent lower risk of death — and age didn’t play into the results. The same increase of survival was seen across age groups, from people in their 20s to those in their 70s and older.

Emerging research also is finding that those who retain well-defined purpose in their lives as they get older tend to do so with better health and a higher sense of satisfaction for life. The Milken Institute Center for the Future of Aging recently published findings that show that people who maintain personal identity through scheduled activities slow mental and physical decline.

We found some local boomers and seniors who are using this phase to live their best lives. Here are some of their stories.