The term ”Elder” has a very significant meaning in many cultures. Generations look to their “elders” to provide wisdom, respect, guidance, tradition and identity. The principles and values are shown by example to the younger generations. Gender – women and men are part of the “elders” community demonstrating the significant traits of a person who has lived for several decades and more.
In my four decades of living outside my passport country (except for 5 years), I entered the stage of the “Elder Expat.” This growing population of global citizens have been traversing the world for years. They have gained knowledge and insight to living and working overseas. For the majority of this group, the life they have chosen has been filled with adventure, new countries, different cultures, travel, a variety of work opportunities, friends all over the world – the list is endless. Most “Elder Expats” state: “they have enjoyed the ride. Words can’t describe the decades but the behavior and enthusiasm is obvious. It has been a magical journey. Much wisdom can be passed from the “Elder Expat.””
OOPS – “Where did all the years go? They passed by so quickly. I can’t believe I am in my late 50’s, mid-60’s, early 70’s. What happened?” I have heard these statements for several years and have taken my own personal survey. Having worked with TCK’s (Third Cultured Kids) for many years, I feel like I am encountering the same group but much older. The traditional questions: Where is Home??? Who Am I? – are discussed often by the “Elder Expat”. OOPS “how did I get here?”
Some of the Elder community have planned for their retirement, receive a great pension and have found the place to live and call home. There will be the ones who will repatriate to their passport countries; others will live near their adult children and grandchildren, others have found their place in the sun and will chill out; some will continue the journey living in several places throughout the year.
“Who Am I?” This is the more difficult question – “I have defined myself as an expat; by my profession, my family – If I shed these labels – Who Am I?”
Surprisingly there is a percentage within the Elder Expat who can’t decide where to live, or what to do at this juncture. Some will have to continue to work due to financial situations or many want to continue to work; others will divorce during this time; some will wait until they are too old to move and just chance it, others are still trying to decide where they want to be and what they want to be doing. Ask around – there are many in this group. Some are content with the unknown and believe “as long as I have good health services and a community of like minded people -I will be fine.” The Elder Expat – Third Cultured Kid.
My conclusion for the “Elder Expat” – define your self – you have an amazing identity and have much to offer the “fledglings”” in wisdom and resources. You are a wealth of information just like an encyclopedia – a what??? Pass the torch with grace and dignity and get involved in whatever you enjoy and want to pursue.
Where is home? This has been the question for decades – Good Luck and Continue To Enjoy Your Global Journey – You have been doing it for years – it is what you know, Elder Expats.
Founder Culture3Counsel, Creator, Author