Fueling Your Curiosity, and Fighting Loneliness with Conversations

NOT in the slow lane, YET 

The blog is about living life after 70 with joy, resilience, and purpose. NOT in the slow lane, YET is a source of positive, helpful advice encouraging people to set and achieve goals  and find joy in life. The blog will cover personal experiences and thoughts and concerns. Topics of blogs will include health, retirement, fashion, travel, and  living in continuing care retirement communities. The blogs will be short and appear at least once a month on my website www.nadineblock.com or by email if you choose.

Fueling Your Curiosity, and Fighting Loneliness with Conversations

Have you wondered how staying curious and engaged in the world can impact your life as you age? Look no farther than “Conversations.”  Once a month seven women meet in our senior retirement community from 5-7 pm.  It is not a book club.  We delve into thought provoking topics.  In the past few months, we discussed Super Agers, Ageism, Loneliness, Friendships,  and  the Golden Bachelor Reality Show.  We meet in a club room and begin with sandwiches and wine.  Then we dive into the selected topic.   We treat it as a ritual, same time, same place, and every month. It is fun, thought-provoking and has led to deeper friendships.

The seed for “Conversations” was planted forty years ago when I was visiting our new vacation condominium.   I attended a condominium association meeting. We were the youngest owners.  A vote to  redecorate the lobby came up.  A northeastern snowbird raised his hand. “I am not voting for something I won’t be able to enjoy.”  Nods followed.  The vote failed.  I came away thinking, “I hope when I get old, I don’t fixate on myself.”  Do I have to wear out every chair in the lobby before I die to make sure I get my money’s worth?  What happens to people who do that?  They fail to stay connected.  They lose a sense of their relevance to society.  Seeing the resistance to lobby renovations led to a “Not in my lifetime” mentality.   My life lesson from the lobby renovations experience  was to age with curiosity, an enquiring mind, and engagement in my community.  That is the antidote to loneliness and a sense of relevance in old age.

Sparking the conversation this month will be  “WHY ARE MARRIAGE RATES FALLING AND DOES IT MATTER?”  

I will provide a brief  summary  and conversation starters  which promote personal views on the subject.  I thought back to my own experience of marrying just out of college.  At my graduation where I was still dressed in my cap and gown, my mother who had encouraged me not to get serious about college boyfriends, said with a disappointed voice,  “Aren’t you being a bit picky?”  I married the next year and gave birth to my three sons before I was 30 years old. Times have changed.  

What we know:

Marriage rates are falling. 

In 1960, 72% of all adults ages eighteen and older were married; today just 51% are. If current trends continue, the married  share  will drop to below half within a few years. Nearly four-in-ten Americans say marriage is becoming obsolete. (Pew Research Center).

 How did this happen?  

The  decline in marriage rates between 1960 and 2020 suggests a  complex interweaving of causal  factors:

Economic factors: Changing economic realities have impacted the decision to marry for some.

Shifting attitudes:  Marriage is no longer seen as the sole path to fulfillment.

Focus on individual growth:  The pursuit of personal goals and self-discovery has become more important to many.

Age at first marriage: People are marrying later, allowing them to prioritize education and careers,

Beyond the numbers:  A multi-faceted discussion follows  which emphasizes life experiences. Example: “What were the expectations for marriage in the mid-20th Century when most of us married?” and “What are expectations for marriage today?”

Our discussions go beyond dry statistics.  We bring a combined total of over five hundred years of life experience. We weave humor and vulnerability into the discussion.  As trusted confidantes, we share openly, fostering connection, learning and mental agility.  We combat feelings of isolation and build valuable friendships.  

The Invitation: Start Your Own “Conversations”

Do you live in a retirement community or simply desire a stimulating social circle? Consider starting your own “Conversations” group! 

Here is how:

Find a group of 6-8 friends or neighbors who are like-minded in being interested in such topics.  Some may be close friends.  Some may be people who you would like to  have as close friends.

Brainstorm topics: Collaboratively generate a list of engaging themes.

Take turns leading: Rotate discussion facilitation, food, and drinks.

Embrace the awkwardness: Give it time! Strong bonds form through open communication.

Remember, staying curious and connected is vital at any age, but especially for those of us who eye the final  exit door.  With “Conversations” or a similar initiative, you can cultivate a vibrant, intellectually stimulating space to share experiences, learn new perspectives, and forge lasting friendships. So, what are you waiting for? Start a conversation, keep talking and see your world come alive!