What Are the Benefits III: Finding Generativity During the Senior Years
Senior sage leaders often say they benefit greatly from the sense that they are leaving their community in a better place than they found it. Clearly, they feel they are leaving a mark on the community’s quality of life. One senior sage puts it succinctly: “I’m just proud to live here.” But there seems to be much more to appreciate from the benefits derived by senior sages when they become generative during their senior years. We note that many senior sages say they had become isolated in their early retirement due to being “burned-out” from years of corporate, nonprofit, or government politics. So it is understandable that some senior sages retreated into themselves and became “curmudgeons” at first. Then in time, they discovered that they are experiencing personal stagnation and look for opportunities to become vital again. The research on increased oxytocin levels in mature men and women suggests that isolation can be quite destructive to both physical and mental health. And as the MacArthur studies have shown, men and women who become isolated during their senior years tend to deteriorate faster and die sooner than those who are socially engaged.
Many previously isolated senior sages have found that their civic engagements pulled them back into the world. This ultimately may be the greatest benefit that is derived from civic engagement. Rather than their volunteer work being regarded as a source of tension or sacrifice, these senior sages discoverer that civic work can integrate very nicely with family and recreational interests. The first step out of withdrawal and isolation is often the most difficult, but once engaged in the community these seniors acquired new energy and renewed purpose. And they gain a real sense of balance in their lives. Further, senior sages say they feel better after providing community service (physical benefits) and feel intellectually stimulated (mental benefits). And they benefit greatly from the camaraderie of their fellow sage leaders (interpersonal benefits). Put simply, senior sage leaders find that civic work in Grass Valley and Nevada City feeds not only their spirit but their entire being.Download Article 1K Club