Life advice for people in their 30s from retirees who know

Life advice for people in their 30s from retirees who know
  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • Share by Email
  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • Share by Email

I learned a lot last week at a panel discussion at Aldersgate about age-friendly communities. I learned that misperceptions we have about elders lead us to fear rather than honor the process of aging, that oversights in city infrastructure ignore the unique demands of aging and isolate our elders and that I could stand to learn a lot from the people in that community. So I decided to go back.

Yesterday I had the opportunity to sit at a table with seven Aldersgate residents and ask them what life advice they’d give to someone in their 30s. The youngest of the group was 74. When I introduced myself with the declaration that I was there to learn from them, Alice (who you’ll meet below) said, “Oh, but I’m still learning.”

Here’s what they had to say.

Aldersgate

Richard Carpenter

Job at 30: Teacher

“The one thing that I would tell some who’s 30 is focus on things that you need rather than what you want. Try to separate those two things because sometimes what you want might not be what you need at that time. Particularly if you’re going to splurge. If someone who’s 30 years old wants to be in some of the financial situations we’re in now, it starts back when you’re younger. My wife and I were married as teenagers and we really had nothing. But when we got to retirement, we were able to do it on our terms rather than on someone else’s terms. Set aside, save and invest so you can retire on your terms.”

Milton Gilbert

Job at 30: Campus Minister at NC State University

Milton Gilbert

“The first thing I would suggest to anyone who is 30ish is to buy themselves a longterm healthcare plan. I don’t know what the future will bring. None of us knows what the future will bring but we know one thing: it’s going to cost more and more and more for healthcare. It will bankrupt you in a short period of time. It’s so much cheaper if you buy it when you’re young and then you pay that same price for it. The second thing that I would suggest to anybody who is young is make a friend of somebody who is a senior citizen. The purpose of making a friend with somebody who is a senior citizen is because you gain so much depth and wisdom from that person’s experience. I’m the young kid here in this facility; I’m only 74 so I’m the young kid. I find so much wisdom from just being around those people who have been here and back. So I would suggest that anybody who is young find an older friend. You don’t have to take care of them. Just listen.”

Jo Ramsey

Job at 30: Nurse

“Have a life of your own. That means if you’re married, you have a life of you’re own. It’s not something that you’re tied to a spouse. Have something of your own that you are interested in, that takes your time, that gives you joy, that makes you feel good, that will take you the rest of your life. Because all of the sudden, if it’s a spouse, you don’t have that spouse. I have seen that happen so often in my age group. Have a life or something that you are interested in that will carry you through these lonely times.”

Joyce Cox

Job at 30: High school history teacher

Joyce Cox

“Start saving money immediately. You never know what’s going to happen in your lifetime and you need to have some cushion to fall back on. It’s very very nice if you can live to be old enough to come to a retirement center and have the money to make the payments that are necessary in order to stay here. It helps a great deal to have that done before you realize it’s time. Another thing I would like to suggest is that you make that decision early enough that you can make the move and the adjustment going into the retirement center while you are still in command of what you can do. You can make the move. If you need help, at least you can direct it. I would also advise, be thinking about this early. You don’t know when there will be an accident or illness that dictates that you need to go earlier. See what your retirement opportunities are. Make plans early. I grew up in North Carolina but lived in the Midwest most of my life. I came home. I had so many good friends where I was but home was even more important.”

George Moffat

Job at 30: Industrial Engineer at Oscar Mayer

George Moffat

“Whatever today is won’t be here 30 years from now. It doesn’t matter what you’re talking about. Your religion will have changed, your politics will have changed, your circle of friends will have changed for all kinds of reasons. Don’t assume that however you’re living today is going to be there 40 years from now. It won’t be. And it probably will not be better. I’m not saying the 50s were the good old days, but they’re a hell of a lot better than today. I didn’t have my first job until I was 35 because I was perpetually in school. And we moved a lot; Aldersgate here was my 12th move. So the second thing I would say is put down roots somewhere. Put down roots. That’s very important. My wife and I didn’t know where we would be buried, for example, because where was home? You need some roots. Also, you never have enough money saved. Back when I was making $6,000 a year, there wasn’t any money to save but we could have saved. Oh, and don’t have a lot of kids. They’re wonderful when they’re 50 or 60 years old but in the meanwhile they’re a burden. [Laughs.] I have four kids. I wish now I had spent more time with my children. I was always gone somewhere. Finally, you can never have enough education, formal or informal. You can never have enough education. Keep learning. Keep learning.”

Gus Deal

Job at 30: Protestant Chaplain at Broughton Mental Hospital

Gus Deal

“You never know how long you’re going to live and the odds are increasing that each one of us is going to live longer than our parents. That’s something to think about when you’re age 30 because we will likely live longer. Also, don’t wait until you have to come to a retirement community. We have a number of friends in our age group that say, ‘Well I’m not ready yet.’ If we had known what we know now after nine or 10 months here, we would have come sooner. I have a larger group of friends by being here than I’ve ever had in my entire life at one time. It’s more cost-effective to come before you have to. Plan on living longer than you think you might and come sooner than when you have to come.”

Alice Bostic

Job at 30: Counselor/Recruiter at Wayne State University

Alice Bostic

“This question led me to think about what I was doing at 30 and what had influenced my life to that point. It was a passion for working on situations in the world that create problems for a lot of people. It led me to work in the field of disabilities. It led to a passion for working on the rights of people who are often ignored and deal with a lot of discrimination. I realized as I thought about it that there is this thread through my life and it’s a passion for the unheard voices in society. What I look back on now is, yes I saved my money. I did a lot of the things others have spoken about. But I wish I had taken more time at that stage of my life to understand what was driving so many of my decisions. Why did I land in the inner city of Detroit a year after the riots (1967) and love every minute of it? Why today do I love sharing Charlotte’s history and telling everybody’s story? Why is that so important to me? I look back on my life and I realize the passions that were there then are still here now and I’m grateful for that consistency. And I’m grateful for being able to say it’s been a good journey. It’s not over yet, but it’s been a good journey because I was able to follow what I was passionate about. I was lucky to be able to do that and I think you need to look at that when you’re 30. What is your life going to mean when you’re 77? What will you look back on and be glad you did?”

(Jo and Richard had to run to a meeting before we took to head shots and group photo.)

Story Views:
SIGN UP FOR THE DAILY AGENDA
Join the 46,504 smart Charlotteans that receive our daily newsletter.
"It's good. I promise." - Ted   Ted Williams