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70Candles! Authors Share Advice on Positive Aging

By Judy Freedman

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Last month, The New York Times journalist Jane Brody wrote an article about "Thriving at Age 70 and Beyond." I enjoy reading Jane's weekly columns on personal health, and this one was especially appealing. Jane mentioned a blog called 70Candles.com, with stories from women in their 70s, and a book with a similar title written by bloggers (and now authors) Jane Giddan and Ellen Cole.

I am fast approaching my 60s and was intrigued by the advice that these two long-term friends had to share about how women are thriving in their 70s. I contacted Jane and Ellen to ask if they would participate in an interview for my blog.

Their wisdom about positive aging is very inspiring for baby boomer women who are following in their footsteps. It's great to know that there is much to look forward to into our 70s, 80s, 90s and maybe 100s! (Note: if you cannot view the video below please click here.)

A Practical and Positive Guide
The book, 70Candles! Women Thriving in Their 8th Decade, is a compilation from the conversations that Jane and Ellen had during gatherings around the country with women of this era and from many of the women who contributed to their blog.

The authors do a great job pulling the pieces together into, as they say, "a practical and positive guide to have at your side as you traverse your 70s." Included are lessons learned from their gatherings, a review of pertinent literature on this topic and a look at the future. In the back section is a handy reference with relevant websites and additional readings.

Now let's hear more from Jane and Ellen:

Jane Giddan and Ellen Cole created the blog 70candles.com and wrote the book, 70Candles! Women Thriving in Their 8th Decade.

Q: Why did you start the blog 70candles.com?
A: Dear friends since age 14, we visited together in Texas just before turning 70. We couldn't believe we were this age. Seventy sounded old to us, but we didn't feel "old." We wondered what lay ahead.

Academics that we were, we started reading to see what we could learn. But research we came upon was all about the downside of aging. We called them "sick granny studies." We then decided to ask women themselves … and so the 70candles.com blog was born. It continues today with women from many countries responding to each other in heartfelt posts and comments. We invite your readers to join the conversation.



Q: What encouraged you to take the next step and write a book?
A: We found few books on this subject, so early on we imagined writing one. The 70Candles! project eventually included gatherings of women in various cities. Women in these conversation groups let us know that they wanted to learn more about this period of life, in this era of extended longevity.

With knowledge we accumulated from our extensive reading, from the blog and the conversation groups, and through Ellen's study in the master of arts in positive psychology program at the University of Pennsylvania, we felt we were ready to create a book. We were pleased that The Taos Institute, purveyors of the online Positive Aging Newsletter, was willing to publish it. It seemed a perfect fit.

Q: What are the most important things you learned about septuagenarian women from your work on your blog and book? Any "aha" moments?
A: We learned above all that women our age enjoy talking about this period of their life, and they welcome opportunities to share with other women. The issues summarized in our book, 70Candles! Women Thriving in Their 8th Decade, are those that struck a chord with women everywhere.


Q: What is different about women in their 70s versus 50s and 60s?
A: We found that women turning 70 began to think, many for the first time, about years left to live, instead of years already lived. They began to think about their next step in housing—downsizing, perhaps, one-floor homes, even senior living facilities. And of course retirement was by now a done-deal or very much on their minds.

So the 70s, much more than the 50s and 60s, are years of re-creating and reimagining one's purpose and daily activities. We found this was especially true for professional women who had long identified with their careers.

Q: I'm approaching 60 in a few years. Any advice for this decade and into my 70s for living a full life?
A: Try writing your obituary, or if that sounds too maudlin, call it "My Life in Summary." This is likely to point you in the direction of your best self in the years to come. Also, find ways to connect with age-mates, as we noted above. This is our #1 recipe for a long life well-lived.

Thanks, Jane and Ellen, for sharing your wisdom. For more stories from women in their 70s, I encourage you to check out 70candles.com.

This post originally appeared on aboomerslifeafter50.com.