Stan Hinden 2015-03-11 07:19:22
Retiring from Work but not from Life In the late 1990s, John W. Rowe and Robert L. Kahn published a book called “Successful Aging.” The book was based on the MacArthur Foundation Study of Aging in America, which showed that with proper diet, exercise and medical care elderly people could remain physically active and mentally alert for many years. Successful aging, the authors concluded, was based on three characteristics: • A low risk of disease and disease-related disability • High mental and physical abilities • The desire to remain actively engaged with people I came across these ideas while writing a book: “How to Retire Happy. The 12 Most Important Decisions You Must Make Before You Retire.” I was particularly curious about the third suggestion: “The desire to remain actively engaged with people.” And I wondered what that meant. I soon remembered that when I retired from The Washington Post a few years earlier, I felt cut off from the friends and colleagues I had worked with for 20 years. One day, I was at work, surrounded by dozens of co-workers and friends—part of an editorial team. And the next day, I was retired, at home alone and wondering where all those friends had gone. Clearly, when I left my job, I also left all those friends behind. I soon realized that I needed to do something to fill that hole in my life. So I joined the Leisure World Lions Club in suburban Silver Spring, Maryland. Leisure World is a retirement community with several thousand residents and a wide variety of clubs and activities. My goal was to meet new people and, hopefully, to take part in activities that would be useful and rewarding. I was fortunate. The club members were friendly and welcoming and happy to have another worker who wanted to help the club pursue its goal of raising money for vision-related- organizations. Those organizations included the Lions Vision Research Foundation, located at the world-famous Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. It also included Leader Dogs for the Blind in Rochester Hills, Michigan, and Camp Merrick, a summer camp for blind and deaf children located in southern Maryland. The members of our club raised money in a variety of ways. But mostly, good weather and bad, we stood outside local supermarkets with money jars, appealing to shoppers with the words: “Help the Lions Help the Blind.” I was always pleased when an individual would stop by, put a few dollars in my jar, and say, “You helped my son when he needed glasses in school and we couldn’t afford it.” Indeed, the Leisure World club often paid for eyeglasses for students whose families didn’t have enough money. Our members also spent a lot of time collecting the thousands of eyeglasses that people dropped off at local banks and businesses. I hear rumblings that Lions Clubs wants new members, especially younger members. That’s all fine and good. But I know there are an awful lot of folks my age who have time on their hands and know how to get things done. As a retiree who relished keeping busy, I found that my Lions club widened my personal horizons and, better yet, let me become part of a global organization dedicated to the preservation of eyesight. And what could have been better than that? Stan Hinden is a former president of the Leisure World Lions Club and writes the Social Security Mailbox column for the AARP website.
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