Granada Villas resident Ingrid Daniels, 60, stays fit through her diet, volunteerism and by practicing yoga.
The first of the estimated 78 million members of the baby boomer generation — born between 1946 and 1964 — began reaching age 65 in January. As this generation reaches retirement, society will have to adapt to their changing housing, health care and spiritual needs. Because of its size and influence, this generation has left a permanent mark on the country’s economy, culture and standard of living. Now, baby boomers are living longer than their predecessors, and for the most part, embracing aging and retirement with curiosity and a proactive spirit.
Many Southwest boomers are creating the next chapters of their lives by staying physically and mentally healthy and keeping connected through spiritual or community involvement.
For the Body & BrainIngrid Daniels, 60, of Granada Villas, credits good nutrition, fitness, spirituality and a zest for life with keeping her vital. She and fiance Jerry Ellis, 62, eat nutritious foods, exercise, meditate regularly and believe in giving back as much as possible.A practitioner of yoga for more than 30 years, Daniels teaches yoga at a women’s shelter near downtown Orlando and offers yoga classes to parents of sick children at Ronald McDonald House.To Daniels, aging does not necessarily mean slowing down.”It’s not about the age or the number,” Daniels said. “It’s about your energy level, your involvement with others, your attitude about life, and maintaining the best level of health and fitness you can achieve.”She also believes it is important to approach being older with no regrets. “Don’t wish that you were younger or that things had turned out differently,” she said. “Be grateful for everything you have now.”Kirti Kalidas, M.D., N.D., of The Center for Natural and Integrative Medicine, devotes his practice to helping patients achieve mind-body-spirit wellness. He is a board-certified internist, as well as a licensed naturopathic physician.Kalidas encourages baby boomers to improve their health, find balance and change unhealthy lifestyle choices as early as possible.“It is important for baby boomers to improve their health habits now, so they will experience less physical and cognitive decline as they get older and enjoy a better quality of life in the future,” he said.Diamond Lakhani, Ph.D., 65, and his 55-year-old wife, Nasrin, of Bay Hill believe that it is never too late to improve cognitive function. Despite the belief that memory loss is inevitable, research shows that the brain has plasticity, and memory, attention and cognition can improve with mental activity and stimulation.The Lakhanis are passionate about spreading the word about brain fitness, and both agree that nutrition, exercise and stress reduction also play parts in the improvement of cognitive function.
“Starting at age 40, it is important to do as many things as possible in a new way, to engage different parts of the brain,” Diamond Lakhani said. “Take a different route home from work; use the opposite hand to eat or write; try different foods; take up a new hobby, such as sculpture or pottery, which engages the sense of touch, as well as vision. There are many ways to incorporate even small changes into our lives, which can activate different portions of our brains and generate new neuronal connections.”Nasrin Lakhani, a biofeedback consultant at the University of Central Florida, stressed the importance of exercising the unused portions of the brain.
“Since such a small portion of our brains is ever used, there is much more that can be developed throughout
Bay Hill residents Diamond (left) and Nasrin Lakhani, ages 65 and 55, respectively, promote brain fitness by stimulating unused parts of the brain.
our lives,” she said. “Even taking small steps now to challenge our brains can lead to big improvements in the future.”
Fifty-seven-year-old Sue Bouder of Bay Lakes has worked as a facilitator at the Brain Fitness Club in Winter Park. Although her clients are elderly and already show signs of memory impairment, she has learned that “brain fitness is not just about cognitive and brain-stimulating exercises. As with heart health, brain fitness includes many lifestyle changes.”Like the Lakhanis, Bouder believes brain health can be improved not only with cognitive stimulation, but by physical exercise, proper nutrition, socialization, relaxation and elements of spirituality.“Anything that helps a person reduce stress and guides them to find peace and relaxation contributes to better cognitive function,” she said.Bouder said brain fitness does not simply mean completing a crossword or sudoku puzzle or other brainstimulating activities. It also is important to do activities that quiet the brain. Breathing and relaxation exercises and quiet hobbies, such as knitting or painting, all improve focus and engage the mind.“As the puzzles and word or math games stimulate the left brain, we also need right brain stimulation to enhance creativity and intuition,” she said.Retired & Senior VolunteersAs baby boomers get older, there is often a desire to share their wisdom and life experiences. The Retired & Senior Volunteer Program, a national organization, has been a vehicle for connecting volunteers age 55 and older with local organizations for more than 38 years.“We’ve seen an influx of baby boomers over the past few years,” said Hedy Bass, assistant director and volunteer coordinator for RSVP Orlando. “They bring a great set of skills and experience in areas such as management, strategic planning and marketing, which can be extremely helpful to nonprofits suffering during the economic downturn.”Although there are more than 1,300 RSVP volunteers helping Orange County organizations, Bass said that many baby boomers are still working, traveling or pursuing other interests. In response, RSVP has developed flexible volunteer programs. There are evening and weekend opportunities, as well as a program using volunteers for one-time events.Williamsburg resident Eileen Carlson, 63, volunteers at Dr. P. Phillips Hospital. She spent several years helping in the hospital’s lab, and, as an RSVP volunteer, she helps in the retail pharmacy. She assists by greeting customers, pulling charts, filing, stocking shelves and helping customers with purchases.“I truly enjoy volunteering,” Carlson said. “I’ve always liked helping people, and I believe what goes around comes around. I plan to continue volunteering as long as I am able to.”She and her husband, Larry, who is 64 and still working, help care for their grandchildren, and Eileen also volunteers at Sand Lake Elementary School.Midlife Changes & ChallengesMidlife is often the time that many begin to face some of their greatest challenges. Parents age and may become ill, while children grow up and go out on their own. For Ariane Caparella, 54, of Wingrove Estates, difficult events brought out her resilience and strength at a crucial time.Her children, ages 24 and 27, no longer live at home, and she has freedom to travel. Her parents are gone, and she divorced after a long marriage.After she had begun rebuilding her life, Caparella had an unexpected encounter in a Washington, D.C., restaurant with a boyfriend from long ago. That connection rekindled into a renewed, though long distance, relationship.Caparella is continuing her practice of yoga and studying for her licensing exam in clinical social work. She always has been drawn to women’s issues, and in the past, she was a volunteer counselor at Harbor House of Central Florida, Orange County’s only state-certified domestic violence facility.Throughout all of these changes, she has been on a path to self-improvement.“I’m working on spiritual and emotional growth, essentially striving to be more conscious in all that I do,” Caparella said. “I’m aware that the changes we want to see in the world must begin within ourselves.”Caparella has moved on with support from family members and friends, as well as her personal spiritual practices. Despite the inevitable changes that occur at this stage of life, she said the best solution is to stay in the present moment and to not take anything for granted.For Dave and Lori Schroeder, 53 and 48, respectively, owning their own business is the fulfillment of a life’s goal. Parchment, their fine stationary, invitations and gift shop, combines their skills and interests into an activity they can share. Beginning in 1995 at a location across the street, Parchment has been in its current spot in Dr. Phillips for 11 years.The Schroeders have lived in Orlando since 1993, and after Dave Schroeder’s job disbanded in 1994, they contemplated the next step for their family. They decided to open and operate their shop.“I’ve always had a passion for paper and stationary, and I loved to make handmade cards,” Lori Schroeder said.Dave Schroeder enjoyed retail and setting up displays and had a talent for photography.“We learn something new every day. Many of our customers and staff have been with us for years, and we’ve been through so much, like family,” Lori Schroeder said. “It’s a lot of responsibility to run your own business, but there are so many rewards.”Planning for the FutureGregg Biro, 49, of Westminster Landing, is on the younger end of the baby boomer generation. He is the director of business development at Resource Consulting Group Inc., and, along with his wife, Ann, 40, he wanted to create a financial plan to take care of the needs of his children — Jack, 13; Elizabeth, 11; and Robbie, 9.Gregg Biro believes it is important for baby boomers to start creating a financial plan as early as possible.“This generation is expected to live longer in retirement than previous generations, and their portfolios will need to sustain their spending for decades,” he said. “If proper planning isn’t done, the baby boomer’s biggest risk will be to outlive his or her assets.“It is important to have a ‘quarterback’ for this. You need someone to oversee your financial plan for correct asset allocation, so there will be plenty of funds for living expenses, health care, travel, college funds for the grandchildren, charitable donations or whatever causes are important.”Advice & InspirationThough baby boomers did not grow up with the Internet, some are utilizing the Web at GrowingBolder.com to learn from the experiences of others and discuss just what it means to be a boomer. With the motto, “It’s not about age, it’s about attitude,” Growing Bolder’s media outlets — that in addition to the website also include a syndicated radio show and TV show that is broadcast on 270 public TV stations nationwide — share stories about those who live young and never stop achieving their dreams, regardless of their chronological age.“Growing Bolder reflects the most fundamental change in the way people age in the history of mankind,” said Marc Middleton, CEO of the Central Florida-based Bolder Media Group. “This is great news for people of all ages, because it shows that it’s never too late to follow your passion, reinvent yourself and live your life to the fullest.”“Boomers?” added Bill Shafer, BMG executive vice president. “There has never been another generation quite like them. Their social consciousness, physical awareness and refusal to buy into ageist stereotypes is allowing them to redefine what it means to live life to the fullest from beginning to end … Few realize the seismic shift that’s taking place, but this active, aging revolution may be the most powerful, important story of our lifetime.”
Kearney Publishing Corp.7901 Kingspointe Parkway, Suite 28Orlando, FL 32819407.351.1573 | Fax number: 407.363.3954
Kearney Publishing Corp.