A New Approach to this Year’s Resolutions

Each New Year we come up with idealistic resolutions that are going to change our lives for the better such as, “I’m going to lose weight, “I’m going to be a more giving or helpful person,” or “I’m going to start a new hobby.” So we go into the New Year committed and enthused but several weeks later many of us crash and burn. Resolutions can be a good starting point and are well intentioned, but the habitual failure may be due in part to the predictable goals we set for ourselves each year. Young or old, we should consider taking a different approach to achieve our resolutions. Try something a little different this year. Instead of joining a gym to lose weight, take dance lessons or try volunteer work that requires some physical activity. Rather than trying to commit to a rigid diet, take small steps like not eating after 7 pm or not grocery shopping on an empty stomach.

Particularly for our retired readers, let’s examine some alternative resolutions for those ages 55 and better. I bet if you choose at least one of the suggestions below and stick with it, it will make a positive change in your life this year.


You can still commit to losing weight this year or becoming more active, but approach it a little differently this year. Upon retirement, some people become less physically active once they remove themselves from the hustle and bustle of full-time work. So this year to lose a few pounds and stay active, try volunteering or getting a part-time job.

If you keep busy, stay involved, and have purpose you can avoid winter sluggishness and stave off weight gain. We have many residents and family members who volunteer at Messiah Lifeways and are constantly on the go. The physical, social and emotional benefits of volunteering are tremendous. Furthermore, an increasing number of seniors are embarking on “encore careers” or “second acts” and lend their talents and spirit to a job that is more gratifying than stressful while bringing in some additional income.

If you’d like to learn more about a part-time job or a “second act” or an “encore career” check out or, which are websites dedicated to helping people over the age of 50 connect with employers locally and across the nation for part-time and full-time jobs.

If volunteering interests you, please call Kelly Haag at 717.790.8203 or click here for volunteer opportunities at Messiah Lifeways. You can also check out RSVP of the Capital Region online to learn about volunteer opportunities available in the greater Harrisburg region.


Joining a civic or service group helps to further one’s meaning and purpose each day. National groups such as Kiwanis, Rotary, and the Lions Club are always looking for members. They greatly appreciate the experience, leadership, and talents of retirees to help guide these groups and focus on helping those who’re less fortunate. Local organizations such as United Way of the Capital Region, Habitat for Humanity of the Greater Harrisburg AreaCentral PA Food Bank, Speranza Animal Rescue, and Mission Central offer a wide variety of ways to actively help and give unto others. This is a win-win opportunity for you and the organization.


A large part of New Year’s resolutions revolve around being healthy and feeling good. In addition to seeing your family doctor on a regular basis and taking your prescribed medications, taking control and managing your individual health concerns is paramount. As people age, the likelihood of developing chronic health conditions like arthritis, congestive heart failure, obesity and diabetes grows. So, of course, physical exercise and staying active are key to staying healthy. Start a walking club or try something new like Tai Chi. At Messiah Lifeways at Messiah Village, the Center for Vitality and Wellness offers warm water aquatics, a fitness center and a multitude of exercise programs and classes. Additionally, programs such as Silver Sneakers, Silver and Fit, and Prime offered through your health insurance will cover the cost of monthly membership. Get out and get moving.

Equally as important as physical exercise is “mental exercise.” Crossword puzzles and Sudoku are great, but consider more active ways to “exercise” your brain and integrate it with a new hobby or interest for the new year. Learn to play an instrument, learn a new language, join a book club, or take some courses through a local community college or programs like Pathways Institute for Lifelong Learning® or consider becoming an instructor for Pathways. Pathways offers 30 to 40 different classes, excursions, and service projects each fall and spring semester. Anyone age 55 or better can become a member, and it’s very affordable and flexible.

Whatever you choose as your resolution this year, switch it up and make it count. To learn about more ways to stimulate your mind, body and soul, contact the Messiah Lifeways Coaching office at 717.591.7225 or email




Changing the Conversation About Aging

“Between 1900 and 2000, average life expectancy increased by nearly 30 years in the United States and most other developed countries of the world, and the developing world is catching up quickly. For the first time in history, most people now being born can expect to live seven, eight, nine, or more decades. This achievement changes not only the trajectory of individual lives but also the shape of societies: Adults 60 and older are now the fastest-growing segment of our population…”

“Many older-adult patients wanted to make a difference in the world but, finding no role for themselves, were treated as socially useless. Having created a new stage of life, the next step is to make it meaningful.”- Linda P. Fried

Making aging positive may sound like a simple task, but finding how each individual can enhance their next 25 to 30 years may not be so simple. Many older adults have a desire to make a difference in the world, which involves having a meaning or purpose to life. The recent article, Making Aging Positive from The Atlantic, states what research concluded, that an individual’s physical and mental well-being are enhanced if empowered to make personal decisions. A personal choice of many older adults is to contribute to the next generation and “leaving the world better than you found it.” Unfortunately, many years of experience and knowledge is overlooked because society as a whole does not value individuals who have grey hair and wrinkles.

Making Aging Positive gives examples of ways to “change the lens” on how we view aging. Older adults want to feel needed and have a desire to “contribute in a meaningful way.” Research shows that older adults are great volunteers. Many studies have found that these volunteers are living longer because of improved physical, mental and social health.

There are many volunteer programs and models of senior service. When older adults volunteer and/or teach the next generation, its value becomes twofold. While helping or doing for others, they can simultaneously improve their own physical, mental, and social well-being. All generations benefit from volunteering and serving one another, and our economy benefits as well.

The shift in perspective, outlook, and influence for older adults is imperative and inevitable. Statistically and philosophically being an older adult now is unlike it ever has been in human history. It’s not only the path our society is taking, but it’s the essence of creating more optimism and opportunity as we age. Messiah Lifeways continue to evolve and innovate the way that we view aging. Programs like Pathways Institute for Lifelong Learning, Coaching, Connections, Wellness and Volunteering typify Messiah Lifeways’ committment to making aging positive. We look to “change the conversation” just as Linda Fried challenges readers to make growing older a more positive and enriching time of life.

If you would like to read the entire article, Making Aging Positive, please follow the link to this story.

Linda P. Fried is the dean and the DeLamar Professor at the Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health

Source: Fried, L.P. (2014, June 1). Making Aging Positive, The Atlantic. The Atlantic Monthly Group.

Rekindle a Passion and Make Money Doing It

Don’t get me wrong – I really like my job. I get a chance to help and educate people who are struggling through some difficult times, and it’s very rewarding. However, when I was kid I never thought to myself, “Hmmm, when I grow up I want to work in the long-term care industry or talk to people about coordinating care and services for an ill or aging loved one.” Nope, I wanted to be a fireman, a veterinarian, and then a professional football player. Well, those dreams eventually faded. My aversion to getting injured or dying, put a real damper on firefighting.  Being a vet? Well, I’m more of an animal “liker” not lover. And a pro football player, ha, that was never going to happen! But one thing that remained consistent was my artistic side. However, I never really followed that dream either. Then I grew up, and reality set in. For most of us, marriage, a mortgage, bills, children, and the daily grind often dash any chance of achieving those personal dreams and passions. Plus, I don’t think I could have made it as a starving artist. But recently I have seen some possibilities on the horizon.

As we age, “most of us” tend to mature. We also start to reflect back on our lives while also thinking about the journey ahead. That changes a bit over time and is different for everyone; however for me, my role as Coach and my experiences working with older adults has begun to alter how I view retirement and getting older. I’ve written previously about staying “Actively Engaged and Making a Difference” and also made the promise to myself to stay active and involved after I retire. It has become very evident to me that a sedentary retirement is bad for your health. Less active, less fit persons have a greater risk of developing high blood pressure and coronary artery disease. Lack of physical activity can also contribute to feelings of anxiety and depression and may even increase the risk of certain cancers. The obvious way to combat these health issues is to exercise and eat right. This might be an option for some people. But another option is to combine activity, engagement, and alas incorporating those dreams and/or passions that we may have extinguished or buried when real life came along and took it all away.

What I am referring to are terms I have used in the past which are becoming more and more mainstream. I am talking about an encore or second career. So you have reached that stage in life where you have retired from that rat race and have begun to relax a bit, maybe vacation and travel a bit, but soon you ask yourself, “now what?” In his book Prime Time, Mark Freedman advocates the idea of “re-engagement of activity” instead of a “retirement of leisure.” This is when a second career or second act can fill a void, rekindle an old passion or even open a path to whole new one.

A second act or career can include civic engagement, volunteering, mentoring and lastly working! Wait – isn’t that why you retired? Possibly, if you are referring to a lifelong career or occupation, but when it comes to that encore period it’s now about working for enjoyment to stay active and engaged, and ah, making some spending MONEY! I cannot wait for my opportunity for a part-time job or passion that I can thoroughly enjoy and earn a paycheck that doesn’t have to feed a family of four, pay tuition or a mortgage. Oh the possibilities. On the other hand, starting an encore career may be a necessity to pay off those debts or simply to live on, but the other benefits of working still remain, especially if it’s something you enjoy.

Consider your options looking forward. What’s something you enjoyed doing as a kid or as a hobby?  Is it something that could provide a small income? Attached is link to an article from US News and World Report14 Ways Retirees are Making Money.” See if any of these ideas sound good to you.What will your “re-engagement of activity” with a little cash flow look like?  Share your thoughts or story about a second act or encore career. We would love to hear about it.


Actively Engaged and Making a Difference

Awake bright and early, Ferne Niesley, takes a two-mile walk just about every morning she can. After what we can only assume is a breakfast of champions, Ferne heads over to the Village Center to either volunteer or work several hours for Messiah Lifeways At Home. And she does this with a smile on her face and a spring in her step. By the way, did I mention she will be 90 years old in May and has also lived at Messiah Village for the last 18 years?! You might call this amazing; Ferne just calls it an average day.

Ferne has worked part-time for Messiah Lifeways At Home for the last 10 years primarily as a one-on-one companion. She provides residents and clients company and social engagement to brighten their days and keeps on eye on them if they are struggling with health and mobility issues. Additionally, as a volunteer, she works in the gift shop as well as delivers flowers to residents in the Village Center. She also fills and delivers water pitchers to residents in nursing, sings in the church choir and helps out at fall festival, clothing sales, and various church committees.

In a recent interview by Coaching Intern, Lindsay Mumma, when asked what keeps her going, Ferne replied, “I have this drive and the drive comes from the Lord.” She also stated, “I don’t think about anything, I just do it.” “If you think about it too much, it’ll never get done.” She also believes she was born to work. That strong work ethic continues to live on at nearly 90 years young. She also said that when she watches television, she feels like she’s wasting time. She’s simply too busy for that, staying actively engaged and making a difference in the lives of others.

(continued from Messiah Lifeways Magazine Summer 2013 Issue- page 4)

Much ahead of the curve, Ferne represents a burgeoning and gainful movement often referred to as either an encore career or second act. This movement is associated a bit more with baby boomers, but certainly includes trailblazers in their 70s, 80s and 90s. In the book, Prime Time, author Marc Freedman states, that rather than a “retirement of leisure” that might separate [older adults] from the world, [seniors, retirees, baby boomers] want to be actively engaged and making a difference. Freedman refers to it as “re-engagement of activity” to replace the “retirement of leisure.” This wave is re-imagining retirement and is focused on writing a new chapter in their lives. Volunteering, mentoring, and working part-time for enjoyment and engagement are extremely satisfying and beneficial. And in doing so at 90, Ferne continues to nourish her mind, body, and soul. Active engagement and making a difference in the lives of others sure seems to be working for her.

Another prime example is my father-in-law, who at 80 years old still works full-time as a government relations consultant. Zipping all around the State Capitol and downtown Harrisburg, everyone knows Ron Lench. He also exercises several times a week and does a stretching routine every single morning. Ron is also dedicated to Beth El Temple, organizing and attending a daily prayer group that meets 6 days a week. He also is extremely devoted to his 5 grandchildren, constantly attending their basketball, baseball, and soccer games, plays and recitals as well as babysitting. He also does quite of bit of traveling for work and pleasure. Again I think it’s amazing, yet like Ferne, he modestly brushes it off as part of his normal routine.

I have learned a very a valuable lesson from people like Ferne and my father-in-law. For many years I have relished the idea of retiring, not because I didn’t like working, but rather not having to deal with the daily grind: getting up early, commuting, deadlines, meetings, the list goes on. I couldn’t wait till retirement so I could hop into my hammock at the beach and do absolutely nothing. I know better now. While relaxing and “doing nothing” in small doses might be ok, I have made a promise to myself. I will remain actively engaged and make a difference in the lives of others upon my retirement with opportunities like working part-time, volunteering, mentoring, and exercising my mind and body. I hope you do the same.