We asked several people:
'Do you think there are more opportunities today to explore life after 55 compared to past generations?'
Stephen R. Bixler, 55, Chicago
"To a large extent, the Internet has helped a lot of older people with employment and social options in life. I was lucky to retire early, so I personally think that I have a new lease on life. I've spent 30 years with a career with the State of Illinois Department of Human Services Division of Rehabilitation and now I feel that I'm at a point where I can start doing things that I really enjoy doing. I've always had an interest in music and I could see getting a folk music singing career."
Rev. Larry Bullock, 65, Barrington
"Exploring opportunities, for job, pleasure and the combination thereto, is definitely more plentiful today than in prior years. With the advent of the Internet, advancements in medical science and the ease of global travel, baby boomers are afforded enormous 'creature comforts' today. Unfortunately, taking advantage of these opportunities has been diminished due to the economic uncertainty."
Victor Nicodemo, 72, Melrose Park
"Exploring the world from our home, thanks to the age of electronics, is a marvel that opens a totally new way of keeping our mind and spirit engaged, not only in local but in world events. The age of the computer places the infinite knowledge of the world at our fingertips, dismissing the boredom and confinement that afflicted older persons of the past generation. The only limit to knowledge and exploration today is our own curiosity and determination to learn more."
Jerry Corcoran, 65, Chicago
"Personally, I have already started studying piano, guitar and music theory. When I was younger, I took music lessons and dropped them when I worked full-time, married and started raising a family. I pushed those aside and I didn't see that I could also do that as well at that time."
Diane Cozzi, 64, Addison
"When people were traveling many years ago, it was basically those who were very rich. Now, people of all economic walks of life get the opportunity to travel and do more fun things. I've always been traveling. I pilot a Cessna 172 airplane at Midway Airport and I've been flying for the past 40 years. The plane's my aluminum baby."
Bogdan Domanski, 58, Chicago
"I can look back at the time when my uncles came to Rockford from Poland after World War II. They worked until they were 62 and did some traveling, which is what I will be doing. They traveled to Europe and Asia. I think that I have more opportunities to travel now.
Lou Grant, 62, Villa Park
"I find that there are intellectual and learning opportunities available that my mother and grandmother did not have. I am constantly taking seminars and classes to add computer skills, for example, and to use my computer for everything from photo retouching to journaling and scrapbooking to leave a rich legacy for my family."
Diane Gruper, 58, Arlington Heights
"Through the combination of advanced technology and the establishment of senior centers, there are myriad opportunities to pursue. I recently participated in the Six-County Senior Olympics, sponsored by the Illinois Parks and Recreation Association, so there is no reason to get stagnant."
Nancy Holmstrand, 66, Chicago
"I think there's a lot of opportunities that our grandparents and parents didn't have. There's continuing education classes, travel cruises and teaching opportunities. I'm taking fiddle courses at the Old Town School of Folk (Music)."
Keith Olson, 74, Elmhurst
"The big thing is not just what's out there but the flexibility. You need an appointment? You can make it in the afternoon and go out with friends for breakfast in the morning. There's so much going on. You can see good programs at Ravinia and Grant Park."
Larry Savard, 54, Lake in the Hills
"The technological advances alone gives us opportunity to explore life as long as we choose. From healthcare to entertainment to travel to even working or retiring, all can be tied to today's technology. You can choose virtually anything you want or want to do, and anyplace you want to go whether you leave the house or not."
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