The Worst Thing about Aging is Hanging out With Old People

My ninety-five year old aunt is visiting to celebrate her birthday along with my mother’s eighty-sixth. They’re sister in-laws who share the same birthday. Other than minor degenerative problems (hearing and sight), my aunt is in good health. Her brain is still healthy. She is an example of successful aging.

As we talked yesterday, she made the comment that she gets tired of just hanging out with older people. She lives in an independent living retirement community. So, I started thinking about what makes someone old. If youth is a state of mind, then so is being old. This is my list of what makes someone old. I’d love to hear your comments, both for and against my list.

Only talking about the good old days. My mother contends this is the worst time in history. She thought life was much better when she was a young girl. Ironically, she was born in 1926, so her memories of the good old days are of the depression. As a student of history, I think human civilization has some important challenges to face in the next century. With that said, more humans as a percentage are experiencing political freedom, access to education, food, healthcare and freedom of religion than at any time in human history. Women still face monumental obstacles, but an awareness of their challenges is helping to change their plight daily. What has mostly changed is our access to information about what is going on in the world. Not only do we know about every murder in our local metro areas, but also many of the conflicts that are raging around the world. This access to information feeds the perception that days gone by were better.

Focus on aches and pains. As we get older, most of us face challenges with our aging bodies. It can include everything from poor hearing and vision, high cholesterol, to serious chronic illness. Unfortunately, begin to identify with their illness and occasionally, it becomes their primary topic of conversation. Remember, no one wants to hear a chronicle of all your aches, pains and conditions.

People stop learning. One of the tell tale signs of aging is a lack of inquiring. This can include being informed about what is going on in your community or world, to learning new things of interests. As long as we have a brain that functions, we should be learning and growing. It’s one of the things that keep us young.

Loss of purpose. Many older people have lost a reason to live. To have a sense of purpose that brings meaning into your life is an important way to stay young at heart. It doesn’t have to include big sense of mission, but something that makes you want to get out of bed for every day.

Being youth oriented can be just as dangerous as being old. Embracing the aging process with grace and dignity is the goal. What are you doing to ward off being “old?”



  1. Cathy Severson says:

    Hi Mary, It’s a hard lesson. At the moment, the joy of having met her supersedes the loss.


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