Aging is a process both common and unique to each generation.

While we benefit today from vastly longer lifespans, this is not without complications. In “Gray Matters,” we look into those complications from the perspective of today’s Boomers, the generation now approaching retirement age. A lot of Laborers, LIUNA officials, signatory employers and H&W fund managers fit this description.

If you’re part of this cohort, chances are you’re not looking at retirement the way your father did. Times have changed. For one thing, potential retirees aren’t just men anymore; plenty of today’s women have worked most of their lives, too. More to the point, as much as you may want to retire, you probably face it with some trepidation.

Why? As we note in our cover stories, if you quit working at 65, you may have another 20 years or more to live. That’s great, but that longer life you will enjoy is also the longer life your parents are living. If they don’t have the money to support themselves, are you the one who’s providing eldercare?

A longer life is a wonderful thing, but someone has to pay for it…yours and your parents’ too.

Which brings us to a second cause for concern: the economy. They say the recession’s over, but not for many Laborers, not for construction in general and not for plenty of families in the United States and Canada. Everyone knows someone who is unemployed or underemployed. Often, it’s one of our own adult children. When your child can’t find work, you worry and help where you can. Retirement seems less of an option.

Which means today’s graying workers will likely be the longest-working generation in history. However, with the support of a Laborers’ pension, Social Security, Medicare and perhaps, a part time job, the prospects, though daunting, are far from bleak. Meanwhile, if you’re a younger man or woman, seeing the squeeze your elders face, you can use the time left to save more and better prepare.

In this issue of LIFELINES, as we look at the issues of aging, we also look at another concern that may come to affect you in old age (or, increasingly, even earlier). We’re talking about your health and your diet.

We have an epidemic of diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. And our children are growing obese at ever-younger ages. Every one of us needs to evaluate and improve our diet. The new dietary guidelines from the USDA provide constructive advice. The old food pyramid is ancient history. In its place, the agency has devised a far more useful schematic of a dinner plate showing how much space should be devoted to each food group.

We also offer some help with managing food allergies and with packing a healthy lunch that can safely withstand the rigors of a hot morning in a truck or school locker.

Health is a key to a happy and satisfying old age. While you continue to work on that, we offer “Gray Matters” guidance to help ease the financial and emotional tensions of your prospective retirement. Despite the obstacles, with a clear mind and effective planning, you can successfully manage aging and enjoy your golden years.