50+EXPO keynote speaker is moving force behind AARP's Life Reimagined
By By Pete Pichaske
Oct 03, 2014 at 6:00 AM
As a single mother and soon-to-be empty-nester, Anne Herbster knows about life transitions.
And, as a moving force behind Life Reimagined, New Possibilities, a new program designed by AARP to help baby boomers figure out the next step in their life, she knows how best to make those transitions.
On Oct. 17 Herbster will bring her experience and expertise to the annual Howard County 50+EXPO, a daylong event for older adults. Herbster, 59, will be the keynote speaker at the popular expo, which will be held at Wilde Lake High School, in Columbia.
"Aging today is not the aging of yesterday and of our parents," Herbster said, explaining the idea behind Life Reimagined. "It's people not just living longer, but doing things, enjoying life, exploring new possibilities. Life Reimagined was formed to help provide the tools, the resources, the experiences to help people through those possibilities … to reach that goal, whatever it may be."
County officials say the AARP program dovetails perfectly with the theme of this year's event: Your Next Chapter."
"People are trying to figure out what to do next," said Lisa Coster, the event coordinator. "They don't just want to retire and lie down and do nothing, they want to do something else. It may be a new career, a new relationship or even a new hobby, but hopefully, between Anne's keynote and all the exhibitors, we can help them determine what their next chapter can be."
Officials with the county Office on Aging, which is sponsoring the event, said Herbster's program also ties into their ongoing work on a new 20-year master plan for future senior services.
"We're not only looking at where individuals are going to be in next 20 years, but where Howard County is going to be in next 20 years," Office on Aging Administrator Dayna Brown said.
"We're realizing that the programs and services and facilities that Howard County has now may not be what the aging population wants 20 years from now or even 10 years from now," added Kim Henry, head of communications and outreach for the county's Department of Citizen Services, which includes the aging office.
AARP, the mammoth senior lobbying group formerly known as the Association of Retired Persons, created Life Reimagined to help the growing and increasingly restive aging population move on to the next phase in their lives.
"AARP decided to take a step back and say, 'We need to think about this differently,' " said Herbster, who serves as the campaign's director of live experiences. "We need to be more about helping people live a full life, and being inspired and happy, and giving them the tools to do that."
A group of authors and experts in the field spent two years coming up with the program, which Herbster described as a simplistic, six-step approach to dealing with transitions and challenges that range from work to relationships to wellness. The six steps are: reflect, connect, explore, choose, repack and act.
The campaign includes a book published last year ("Life Reimagined: Discovering Your New Life Possibilities") and a website (lifereimagined.aarp.org) that explains and walks participants through the process.
About 800,000 people have visited the website, Herbster said, and while the campaign is aimed at baby boomers, many younger men and women have shown an interest.
"That's exciting," she said. "This is really for anybody."
Besides Herbster's presentation, the free expo will feature a health fair, entertainment and the usual array of local vendors that serve the senior population, including public and private agencies.
The 16th annual 50+EXPO also includes five hour-long seminars (an increase from four in previous years) on topics ranging from how to detect scams to how to make the transition into the "second half of life."
The seminars offer participants an opportunity to focus more in-depth on a topic, Henry said, as the number of options and offerings at the fair can overwhelm visitors.
Though designed for seniors, organizers say the expo, which attracted some 6,500 people last year, is popular with all age groups.
"At the expo, you see lots of younger older adults, coming in, thinking, 'Where do I start?' " Henry said. "That's why the expo is so great, because it has people in those different phases of aging."