A birthday card on her 50th birthday was an epiphany for AARP CEO Jo Ann Jenkins. “Welcome to the ‘Over the Hill Gang,’” it said.
“I didn’t feel old. I wasn’t over the hill; I was on top of the mountain,” she wrote in her book, “Disrupt Aging.”
That card inspired her to write her book and start a movement.
Jenkins will be speaking about "Disrupt Aging" at the Hawaii Book & Music Festival Saturday, May 6 at 11:30 a.m. at the Mission Memorial Auditorium. AARP Hawaii will also have a full day of speakers Sunday, May 7 at our "Disrupt Aging" Pavilion at the festival. From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., panelists from Hawaii will be sharing how they are disrupting aging and shattering stereotypes of what it means to grow old here. To reserve a seat call 1-877-926-8300 or go to aarp.cvent.com/books5-6-7
“Disrupt Aging” is about changing the way we think about getting older.
We are living longer, healthier and more active lives. Turning 50 wasn’t the beginning of the end of Jo Ann’s life. It wasn’t for me and it’s not “over the hill” for you, either.
Most people turning 50 today can expect to live another 30 years or more. Remember when you were 20 and looking at the next 30 years? Think of the dreams you had and what you wanted to do. What are your dreams now? At 50, you’re wiser and more aware of what you can accomplish. If you’re healthy and have saved some money, those dreams may be within your grasp.
If you need to save more money or live a healthier lifestyle, it’s not too late to start.
Admittedly, getting older can come with hardship.
In my early 50s, I quit a job that was miserable without another job lined up. I took temp work to get by. It surprised me to find that I enjoyed learning new skills.
When I finally got a job that fulfilled me, a pedestrian accident left me severely injured. My doctors didn’t know if I would be able to walk again without help.
I required 24-hour care, and friends, neighbors and relatives stepped up. People whom I hadn’t seen in decades offered their help and renewed their friendship. It was a humbling experience and I will always be grateful to all who helped me. I learned what it’s like to be completely dependent on others and realized I was stronger and more resilient than I had ever imagined. ‘All this has helped me in my job at AARP Hawaii and it’s the reason I am so passionate about helping Hawai‘i’s caregivers
Do I wish I were younger? No. I’m 67 and I am the sum of my life’s experiences.
Turning 50, 60, 70 or older is not the end of the book of your life. It’s the next chapter.
Turn the page and enjoy the adventure.
Visit AARP Hawaii here
Barbara Kim Stanton has been the state director of AARP Hawaii since 2005. She writes about living a life of real possibilities, where age is not a limit and experience equals wisdom.
This story originally appeared in the Hawaii Herald.