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The New Senior Man: Exploring New Horizons, New Opportunities by Thelma Reese and Barbara M. Fleisher

The New Senior Man: Exploring New Horizons, New Opportunities (Rowan and Littlefield. Oct 2017) isn’t just a companion volume to The New Senior Woman, also by authors Thelma Reese and Barbara M. Fleisher. It’s far more than just the boy’s version. When Reese and Fleisher were presenting the first book, The New Senior Woman, to audiences, a question kept coming up: What about the men? And so they had to answer.

Women packed The New Senior Woman events, eager to share their experiences with handling midlife and what lay beyond it, and had no trouble talking, querying the authors, responding, chiming in. They came alone, or in groups, with friends, siblings, and sometimes, with a husband. And it soon became abundantly clear that men could benefit from a new model for navigating their retirement too. Problem was, men aren’t always as forthcoming with their insights and feelings as women tend to be. That’s not how men are brought up, usually. Retirement, for them, is about golf and investment portfolios, if you believe the offerings at your nearby bookstore. But when the authors started researching, they realized there were plenty of men who wanted to share their story. And share it they do — in this great, inspiring book.

Men have their own sets of challenges that make the prospect retirement even more vexing, according to the authors. For many men, their work is their lives – and all colleagues, friends and acquaintances stem from their work life. The way they’re treated, the level of respect and regard, all of that is centered around their long years of experience in their field.

But there’s also a distinction in how they’re raised. So many Baby Boomer men were schooled to “man up” and not focus on their emotional needs. Hence, we might say, all the books on money and golf swings, and so few resources for dealing with the profound shift in their lives that retirement can bring. So men suddenly find themselves without any support at all. And for this generation, living longer than ever before, that’s a long time to bottle up feelings and concerns.

But aging well, and retiring to a fulfilling and rewarding life isn’t just incumbent on men themselves. They face a pernicious kind of discrimination — ageism — that reduces their importance and value in their younger counterpart’s eyes. We all witness moments of ageism in our culture, unwitting or not — whether it’s a moment of disregard or a professional slight. But it’s not only undeserved, as the authors show, it’s a tragic waste:
as men live longer, and 90 becomes the new 70, we’re overlooking an incredible resource of wisdom, experience and also, energy. Reese and Fleisher asked men from firefighters to surgeons to executives to recount their stories about life after retirement, and what emerges is a surprising group portrait of men who won’t settle for slowing down. They pursue second careers, throw themselves into a volunteer vocation with passion and acumen, and remain fascinated by the world and hungry to experience it. They fall in love, have sex, break up, move into new kinds of housing, question the meaning of life, go back to school, drive cross country, climb mountains, even refuse to retire. You get the idea: for them, retirement is a gateway to a whole new phase of life. Given the chance, these men are choosing to seize the day.

For anyone facing a shift in their life, whether they’re heading to 65 or 95, or anyone who has a loved one about to walk out that office door for the last time, this is a wonderful book. The authors cofounded a blog that’s become a clearinghouse and a form for aging, called elderchicks, and its sense of candor and immediacy can be felt throughout the pages of The New Senior Man. It may make you look at your father, husband, or grandfather with an entirely different perspective — and certainly, even more appreciation.

For more about Thelma Reese and The New Senior Man, visit 

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