“The third age is not worth living if you are not acting in it” Charles Handy
PHYSICAL AGE AND PSYCHOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENT
- Each stage in life is calling on us to do and be something different.
- In the first-act we are Dependent on those around us; our family, community and society. Our nature and nurture forms our personality, our nature being what we are born with, our nurture being what we are born into.
- In the second-act we launch ourselves into the world as Independent adults, busy fending for ourselves, making choices, forming our own family units. Our identity is now shared with our new family and with what we do, “Ed the plumber, Ed the solicitor”.
- In the third-act something else may happen. Developmentally it is an Inter-Independent stage of development, one that calls on us to connect into something other than ourselves and those around us.
- The third-act is then defined as both a ‘physical stage of life’ (the last three decades of our lives) as well as a ‘psychological stage of development’.
- We note that while everyone who lives long enough will have a third-age, not everyone who lives long enough will have a third-act.
- Transitioning from the second- to third-act requires our conscious attention, one that enables us to take a new perspective on what formed us in the first-act and what shaped us in the second-act.
- If we don’t accept the call, we may use this new gift of time to play out another scene from the second-act, “this time I’ll do it better” or regress to a “bucket list of things to do before I die”, that we should have done in the first-act.
“The advancement in life expectancy is the greatest societal achievement of the 20th century”.
Alexandre Kalache’s ex director of ageing at The W.H.O.
- We are living thirty years longer than our great-grandparents. What was old age for them is now middle age for us.
- Never before have so many people lived for so long: two thirds of those who have ever lived over the age of sixty-five are alive to-day.
- We are currently adding two and half years in longevity per decade, that’s three months a year or six hours a day.
- ‘Average’ life expectancy in the developed world continues to rise; currently nearing 80 years and forecast to rise to 90 by 2050.
- Most children born in the developed world from the year 2000 can expect to celebrate their 100th birthday
- Prosperity, advances in science and improved health care are not only extending our average life expectancy but our ‘lifespan’ as well.
- Aristotle’s ‘three score and ten’, long thought the natural age limit for the species, has been surpassed. The number of 100 and 110 year olds has gone up by 60% since 1950.
- In the developed world at least, third-actors are now the fastest growing segment of the population.
- “How can we prepare for a period in life never lived by so many before’?