What is Third Age?

Third Age is an emerging life stage running roughly from ages 50 to 75 and made possible by longer life expectancy. Rich in possibilities and potential, it involves the questioning of one's old identity, a search for new or greater meaning and purpose in work and life and profound change. It is a time of renewal if we address both its challenge and opportunity.

What's Third Age?
What's Third Age?

Third Age can be a time of renewal and transformation if we regard it as an opportunity as well as a challenge.

  • Its opportunity lies in seeing our life as full of possibility, as a process of continual and surprising unfolding, and in knowing that we can make decisions geared to regeneration and fulfillment. 
  • Its challenge lies in our "response-ability" to give back, to find the best way for us to contribute our gifts, talents, experience and wisdom to address the needs of our communities and our world. 

Third Age requires us to make those daily choices which help us to co-create, along with the people and circumstances of our life situation, the kind of living we want to claim for ourselves in the second half of life.

First of all, it’s important to get a brief rundown on what we mean by the Four Ages of Life.  Each of these "ages" is roughly about 20-25 years in a given life span and has the particular focus outlined here.  For those with less longevity the Ages may be greatly compressed but usually each stage is included in some fashion.

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Living Through Loss

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Melita & OliviaVery recently I lost my dear, sweet little pug dog, Olivia, at age 14½. We had been together for more than 11 years. For nine of those years I'd been working from home, so we have essentially spent 9 plus years together 24/7.

Words can't describe how special Olivia was, nor how unique and precious the bond was that we had. She came into my life at the lowest of low points, and I "rescued" her when her second owner sought a new forever home for her. She was gentle, sweet, full of personality, and she opened up my heart and mind in ways I never anticipated. We found each other at just the right time and forged an amazingly special connection. I am still deeply grieving her passing.

My grieving is somewhat similar to the grieving that we often experience in Third Age - for the end of a career, a relationship, or a routine that we've known for a long time. All of a sudden something that grounded us, gave us stability, identity, a sense of meaning - even love - is gone. Now what? How do we go on?

Nancy so eloquently spoke of realistic optimism - finding the best possible scenario without denying one's current reality. I don't yet know what the best possible outcome is for me with Olivia's passing. I do know, however, that I could choose to wallow and give up, or I can keep my eyes open to the new possibilities available to me in life now that I am no longer serving as her "Mama" or, as was the case more recently, her intensive caregiver. I will continue to grieve her absence, but at the same time I will keep my eyes open to what else might await me to bring me new and unexpected joy and purpose.

Third Age isn't always easy or pretty. Life is life - it has its sadness and its joy - but the degree of each is much dependent on the attitude and outlook we choose. So I will choose realistic optimism. At the moment it seems a bit difficult, yet I know that the alternative is simply unacceptable. I will take the love and joy that I was blessed to have from this unexpected relationship with my little "puppy" and find a new way to redirect it in service of all the many things that matter to me. That, I believe, is the true essence and opportunity of living in my Third Age.

Read 409761 times Last modified on Sunday, 04 September 2016 11:33
Melita A. DeBellis

Melita A. DeBellis, JD, CPCC, is a life coach, entrepreneur and trainer based in beautiful Shelburne, Vermont. Her business is Midlife Unlimited. She is a former attorney and human resources executive who has made her own personal journey beyond the corporate world to a deeply satisfying vocation supporting individuals as they navigate their journey through their Third Age. She is a former board member of The Center for Third Age Leadership and the co-author/facilitator of its "Coaching for Third Age Fulfillment" program. She is also a trainer with Associates for Training and Development based in St. Albans, Vermont. Melita received her B.A. from The University of Vermont, her J.D. from The National Law Center, George Washington University, and has been trained and certified as a professional co-active coach by The Coaches Training Institute of San Rafael, California. Melita knows the fulfillment that comes from journeying through personal transformation and finding one’s passion. She finds that passion enjoying the natural world of Vermont with her husband Mike and their dog Chloe.


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Are You Ready?

If you want to assess your readiness for renewal in Third Age take a few minutes to complete The Third Age Quotient

Message from Richard Leider

The desire to grow is nothing less than the love of existence--a purpose for being here and a deep desire to fully explore life. Growth is at the root of everything that makes us feel vital. Yet, sometimes we do stop growing. Few coaches are as clear and profound in their guidance as Nancy and Melita. They are master gardeners of the growth soil. If you want to feel vital in your third age, study.... It is a must read for anyone who is willing to ask the question, 'Where do I grow from here?"

- Richard Leider - Best selling author of "The Power of Purpose" & "Repacking Your Bags" and founder of The Inventure Group