Let us never know what old age is. Let us know the happiness time brings, not count the years.
But a better question for me is....
During the last several years, when doing activities with friends, I’ve found myself wondering aloud like this:
[Skiing with a friend on the glacier at Timberline [Mt. Hood] and gazing out at the great view....]
Me: “Do you think we’ll still be doing this when we’re old?” [She’s my age]
Her [while laughing:] “Lynn – most people think we are already old.”
Even though we no longer live near each other, we ski, bike, hike, kayak, play squash, etc. when she visits her son.
Just like we have been doing for decades.
Why should time have changed anything?
Over my professional career I have written and taught about myths, biases, and stereotypes in our understanding of human development. But until recently I'd never given much thought to my own biases or ideas of when and what is "old age."
We can't escape biases as they are part and parcel of our culture[s] - but we can be aware of them and not act on them as if they were "truth" for all peoples. Not going into this here as it's a whole other topic [as I am prone to say.]
I've also lamented over my teaching/research career, that we need better ways to categorize age groups.
Groupings are a sort of necessity as we do research, write, and teach about the human lifespan because we want to talk of clusters or groups of persons, not individuals.
Breaking the lifespan into researchable units is a good idea - but labeling each of them with what I see as an "indelible marker" or "permanent ink" leads to more stereotyping and biases which then seem never to go away.
Like "old age."
Lately it seems that people are more obsessed with knowing everyone's and anyone's age. If you go over to Quora you will see questions like "How old are you? How old is X personality. When did first see yourself as old? Is 21 old?
Hmm – and so I began to think about my own ideas or stereotypes of “old" and "old age."
Physical activity in any animal, including humans, has always been of interest to me. I love watching and doing many sports. While watching Tom Brady play football I came to the conclusion that, for me, “old” means when your physical abilities decline. [Brady's obviously have not!]
I’m not sure how much mine or anyone’s physical abilities have to decline to be considered “old” but it became clear to me that my measurement of old is almost purely physical. Like the skiing example.It's usually the thought behind my own "when I'm old" kind of thoughts.
But this is probably not the case for everyone.....
This is now a question I will keep pondering:
What are your thoughts about "when are you old?" Thank you for your ideas....
In the interim, I'm developing a course on aging...and if you want to know more go the Aging Course page at my online school.
Or you can sign up below for more info on healthier aging.
Sometimes I think I've become one of those stereotypical cranky senior citizens* because I just really hate when I hear phrases like "80 is the new 60."
[*Except that I have been talking about this - well - since a long long time ago!]
I also dislike this one: "Wow - you're 75? You look so much younger."
And then we have those questions and statements online and in the media about how much more desirable it is to look younger than one's age, or see/hear the stereotypes we have of "old" people - i.e. those over 50!
When you tell people they don't look their age - you are being sexist and ageist!
Sexist? Why? Because we rarely say this to men. We tend only to make statements about looks and age to women - and women over 40ish.
Ageist? Why? Stop and ask yourself why you are saying this and ask what are your ideas of a 60, 70, 80-year-old person?
You must have some serious ideas of "80-year-oldness" that do not match the 80-year-old you are facing.
TV shows over the years have generally mocked older people, showing them as silly, forgetful, in need of medications, in wheelchairs, sitting around doing nothing "important" or carping at neighbors, especially neighborhood kids. "Hey kid! Get off my lawn" is a classic example of what "old" people say.
We seem never to be happy with a person's "real" or biological age. We tell young children, wow you look older because we think kids want to seem older.
You're 4? WOW you look at least 5 [or 6] and they giggle.
No wonder few are happy with their age - or anyone else's. We start telling young kids they don't look their age and we continue this line of statements until death!
And the media perpetuates the idea that youth and looking youthful is the epitome of coolness - women in TV media often start getting plastic surgery as they age. Younger and younger girls, boys, men and women are getting plastic surgery of all sorts to look more "attractive." And get more attention, and/or more "dates."
We are living longer, or least least we were living longer. [Our lifespans are now decreasing due to increased drug overdoses and suicide. This newer sad trend is lowering the average length we live.] But for those not impacted by those current issues, life is longer. We have healthy humans living and thriving into their 80's, 90's, and even well over 100!
Instead of celebrating the biological age of these people, we get headlines about how young they look "for their age."
And we "celebrate" youthfulness [whatever that concept is] through clothing, make up, hair styles, lifestyles, and more.....We don't "celebrate" aging and development in the same ways. Just take a look at current ads for most anything - even if they don't come out and say "youth" - the actors are all youthful - just to give you the idea that the "product" will make you look and act the same.
I've been trying to finish up this post for a long time, too long ... but I have so much to say as I usually do...I've also been saying that I want to create a course on aging, and i've been saying that for a long item as well....
To make a long post shorter than it could be, and to stop overthinking the aging course - I AM taking a lot what I'd say here, and putting it there. The course will have me on video and I can then talk about these topics like I would in person!!
The aging course!!
Since I am in the field of human development [Ph.D. and all] I offer information about healthy aging, from my point of view and from research.
AND - after much procrastination, I am currently developing a course about healthy aging.
The working title of the course is: Aging: it beats the alternative.....
I have a quirky sense of humor so if you're not liking my humor you're probably not going want to take my courses. I have fun when I teach because people learn better when they enjoy what they're doing, when they giggle, laugh, and have fun while learning.
I've been like that since I got out of college and I first started teaching. Of course in those days I taught kindergarten - but even when later teaching college or teaching skiing my mantra has been have fun when you're learning and have fun when you're teaching.
And I love to play with images, graphics, and all things digital.....who only wants words when you can have more?
Fo more information about aging, see the course basic info page and sign up there for more info:
As I have gotten older, especially since I turned 65, I have been inundated with mail that goes into a category that I now call.......
The mail is about falling, tripping, funerals, cremation, or selling me insurance so my family can pay for the funeral or cremation expenses.
But I get nothing that ever tells me how to enjoy the rest of my life. It's all about "you're going to die so do something about it."
One of the mail pieces I laugh at is from an insurer who thinks I am about to fall - so I am told I need to keep my floor free of things I might trip over.
But I seem not able to get my dog and cat to pick up after themselves, and so my floor has an array of balls, chew toys, and other roundish objects all over the place.
All this is in addtion to my having cords to and from charging phones and computers - as well as the fact that keeping my house clear of clutter is lower than lowest on my priority list.
Comments? Thoughts? Thank you!
I'm curious about aging....I'd like more info
The wallet above is more than 20 years old. It has a history and I've had it for so long, I keep forgetting its history.
I bought the wallet on April 19, 1995 at Potomac Mills Mall in Virginia. Why do I remember the exact date? Because it was the day of the Oklahoma City bombing - but I did not know about the bombing until I was driving home from Potomac Mills.
My son and I went to that mall more often than I'd liked because, in
While walking throughout the mall [which is large,] I saw the occasional television set in store windows showing a bombing. I didn't think anything of it other than all of the TVs were showing the same movie. On the way home in the car we heard about the bombing and that's the first my son and I knew of it. [And that's why I remember the exact date I got the wallet.]
Since that time, the wallet has led a long life in my pocket, in my backpack, in my fanny pack. or in whatever. In those 20+ years, the wallet has been drenched in the Connecticut River, been dampened by Atlantic and Pacific sea air, been dampened by New England and mid-Atlantic snow and thunderstorms and by the Pacific North West rains and Cascade snow.
It's been part of my life through many moves, lots of mileage in cars, lots of ski trips and lots of
And here it is. A black wallet! My very first thought on opening the wallet was wow - I forgot how good Velcro can be when it is new. And I saw on the tag that it's made by the original Swiss Army Knife makers. I think it might outlive me and it will have its own history to tell at some point.
I grew up in New York City.
It’s where I first learned to walk, and learned to be a pedestrian.
It’s also where I learned to drive.
I left New York in my early 20s, and since then have lived in other cities where there are lots of cars, lots of pedestrians, and these days - a growing number of senior citizens.
It dismayed me to read the following in a blog post about a section of Brooklyn's way to "combat" senior citizens being killed by drivers.
As of early September, eight of 15 pedestrians killed by drivers in the Brooklyn South command were age 65 or older.
To combat the trend, precincts in the area have distributed fliers and notices to residents giving tips to older pedestrians on how to navigate the streets safely.
The fliers suggest wearing “light or bright colored clothing so drivers will notice you,” waiting for a fresh walk signal to cross and treating driveways with the same caution before crossing as if they were roads.
What this first reminded me of was the negative commentary in the news and elsewhere blaming rape on women. "Women should wear longer clothes," "women should not have too much of their body exposed," "women ought not to be out after dark," "women ought not to walk outside alone, etc." Basically a litany of all the things that women should not do in order to not put themselves at risk of being raped.
Nowhere do we ever ever read anything like “how about we teach the boys to not rape women? or "not see women as sex objects?” Nope -
So now - taking a page from that same type of commentary, we blame the victims themselves for being hit by cars. They didn’t wear the right thing, or maybe they were out after dark. Or they did not wait for a fresh walk sign?
These pedestrians were in the crosswalks, obeying traffic rules… but let’s blame them and tell them how to behave… Can’t blame drivers can we?
I’m still a pretty fast walker - even for my age. And, yes, I cross the street seeing the countdown clock is not fresh - it may be midway through the cycle. I know I can cross that road in that time. So why should I wait for a fresh cycle? Does my time not count? Maybe I have an appointment. Maybe I have a train or bus to catch. Why is the driver’s need to hurry more important than my life?