Thursday, April 30, 2009

Life After 80: Always Looking Forward

To keep moving is to be vital, engaged, and engaging. A panel of four octogenarians agreed that the secret to a sweet good life, to longevity itself, is sharing, community, reciprocity, friendship and a sense of robustness. Being isolated and/or alienated reduces one’s receptivity to engagement and thwarts one’s focus. Not surprisingly, each of the panelists have made diet and exercise a priority.

It may have been more appropriate to say 80 is the new 30 judging from the stamina and recent accomplishments of the panelists.

A typical day in the life of these spirited 80+ clan would be ambitious for most and not for the faint of heart. Continuing to work was a common theme. John Sperling of Apollo Group, a Sierra Club member, is engaged in taking a revolutionary renewable energy product to market and founded a new solar energy company. Jim Pattison of The Jim Pattison Group captured it best when he said, "Retirement is not in the cards." Producer Norman Lear believes in planning for life changes. In his words, he is always "on to next." Deborah Szekely of Rancho La Puerta and Golden Door faces risk head on and believes these are the "vitamins and minerals of life."

Panelists share their commitment to philanthropy, each has a cause to champion and all believe in the power of giving. Lear is a benefactor of People for the American Way, Pattison has always carved out 10 percent of his earnings for his church, Sperling contributes to an array of scientific endeavors and Szekely helps new immigrants.

University of Southern California’s Marty Kaplan who moderated the panel, appropriately ended the discussion when he said, "In my family, in the Jewish tradition, on a birthday, one was wished a life of 120 years, regardless of his/her real chronological age."

View the panel online.

Read the session summary.

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