In the late 1960’s Lone Ranger TV shows there was an old prospector type that was around for comic relief. Gabby Hayes would play this old grizzled character. I loved his expressions. He was frustrated but also positive. If Gabby was around today and heard people say “I just can’t do what I used to do, I’m old.” Gaby would respond : “Tarn nation! Nuthin can be done the way it used to be done. Get up off your duff. And do sumethin to be better. You can’t gallop forward in your life forward looking behind yah!” Yah darn tootin Gabby. So Happy Trails companions here’s what I see on the horizon.
Power washing off the cobwebs of aging stigmas is starting to happen. I’m a believer that the stain and stink of how society sees older individuals can be scrubbed away. There’s a shine and new sparkle of ideas that are teasing out a lasting luster. We’ve not seen it before. Why? Because we’ve never lived this long, and in this healthier, health span like ever before. However there is something more. Walking among us are individuals that are untapped, living treasures. They look forward.
The New Older
Yes, Boomers are coming on the scene and even though Boomers are responsible for the 1960’s slogan “Don’t trust anyone over 30” . Boomers are also repeating an old anthem when it comes to age restricted Senior living. “Hell no we won’t go.” Intergenerational, active, diverse communities are capturing their attention. Lots are flocking back to the inner city to be around younger individuals and a more diverse population. And they some fiercely believe they still can make the world better.
Proof of new ideas ? Look at the work of Chip Conley with the Modern Elder Academy. Now this is a smart, positive spin on the words re-education camp. Here you visit in style finding a your path to improve your life ahead and explore new ways into a new landscape of aging. On-line visit ageist.com. Ageist offers a glossier, yet realistic side to aging with inspiring success stories of individual age explorers gaining new ground. “55+ plus active adult communities” are trying to make a new brand of it. They seem to be more directed at a state of mind for what might really be for 70 plus year old women that still see life ahead as enjoyable. And yes, women more than men are are proactive in caring how they age.
A New Landscape Revealed. I’ve Seen First Hand. in the amazing work of Lee Anne McClymont in Raleigh, North Carolina. Lee Anne brought older individuals from a community to interact with Design school students at North Carolina State University. Being in that room with 70 Plus year olds and 20 year olds …and witnessing the collaborating on ideas was truly profound. Neither age group took the attitude to say “Well I’ve been around and you young people should know better.” Nor did the students give off the patronizing vibe “Let’s be nice to these old folks.” Instead it was a astonishing to witness this co-mastering of age for both parties. Truly it opened the curtain to how older individuals can regain a better sense of self esteem. Younger individuals getting richer rewards from those experienced individuals. And for older individuals it is critical to keep growing as you age. That means learning new things. Tech becomes smarter and simpler. Once more of us wake up, we will see this collaborative state of experiences and experience will bring financial rewards to older individuals. Not every older person is wealthy enough to volunteer. Consider starting this experiment at your local college or University.
“Yay Another 1 Million Calorie Dessert On Facebook”
We must take action to defuse the many mine fields with trip wires ready to detonate our lives as we age. This starts with gigantic, grotesque source of sugar-fied and unhealthy snacks/ prepared foods on the shelves at the supermarket. I am convinced that these foods are are scientifically designed to be addictive. I see my old school friends on Facebook parading vein blocking recipes that open you to what I call a laughing death. “Oh go ahead eat that …so what if you get Diabetes? …that’s the price you have to pay. Ha-Ha. Aaaaahhhh. Choke Cough.”
We don’t need a war on drugs. We need a war on artificial, health destructive, addictive food. The same kind of war we had on cigarettes. Plus we need rewards for those who can take better care of their health. Recently I met with an age research scientist who suggested to me that we tax individuals that don’t take care of their health. Yes, new techniques and opportunities to help individuals transition off bad foods to healthier tasty foods is greatly needed. When you look at poor neighborhoods in and around Austin, Texas, you’ll find the worst of fast food chains and lack of fresh vegetables. Essentially these businesses feed off the poor. I pray that what’s left of influence of houses of worship and sports figures could use their influence to help initiate new programs for better health. Multi-cultural groups can rediscover what are called healthier heritage diets. Oldwayspt.org has one that is worth a look. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2aBKAF_qzKA&t=121s .
Reconnecting heart to heart.
Loneliness has sky rocketed so called social media. A revised version of how we connect is revving it’s engine. We need to make it happen. I envision a world of entirely new social startups designed to attract and influence active engagement for older individuals. Here as part of the New Older you are appreciated for your brain power and wisdom. The song playing in the background isn’t the 1990’s song “I’m too sexy for my shirt.” It’s “ I’m too sexy for my brain, too sexy for my thoughts…oh baby.” How about a new joint concept of meeting on line and meeting in person in new safe environments (besides bars). And while we’re at it, consider the next leap called love. Love never ever ages. To make it safe, take to heart the work of my friend Jose Colucci, a genius designer an communicator. Jose formerly of IDEO and now with the new Dell Medical School created an educational campaign to stem the tide of SDT’s among the wild Viagra crowd with great posters of “You never outgrow a condom.”
Find New Words.
We also need fresh, inspiring language to shift the way we talk about ourselves as we age. Let’s throw the words “Senior. Frail and Elderly” off the cliff. I love the new terms of “Perennials” “Potential Beings” and even “Modern Elder”. Just get rid of “Senior”as a word. It was coined by a previous generation. Recently I polled an audience at one my talks. They were composed of individuals in their 70’s and 80’s and it was virtually unanimous. They applauded their approval in getting rid of the title Senior and all the worn out baggage that comes with it. We have to also consider how we describe ourselves. But those Boomers who feel entitled are a nuisance when they seem saying the Dangerfield quote, “I don’t get no respect.”
You can’t move forward using a rear view mirror.
it’s great fun to listen to the songs of the 60’s and 70’s. But it is poisonous to think things were better back then. I was part of generation that protested against pollution and yet somehow we’ve pushed more toxic items into rivers, streams, oceans, the soil and the air. We then wonder why people get sick from the food and water they ingest.
Daily plot out a plan to learn and understand when and where your best energy levels each day. Yes you can’t run as fast as you used to or lift the same amount of weight. You may not have the energy. Look at Paul Baltes work in ‘self-regulation” as you age. Knowing your levels of personal energy, what you can realistically accomplish, setting goals and confidently achieving them. Truly the definition of grow until you go.
Look forward and figure out ways to believe in yourself again. Find friends who are positive, have a coffee or tea with them. If you want to look back, look at all the things you have overcome. You still have that courage somewhere. Maybe it’s tucked some drawer, but it’s still there. Whether it was when you started a career, began having a family, overcame health issues. You had the will then, you need to practice getting in touch with it again.
Forward To Greater Happiness.
Experiencing the highest of level of happiness as you age ? Share time with someone else. Recent studies including NYU Professor Scott Galloway’s new book The Algebra of Happiness and its research reports that one of the highest highs of happiness is in helping another human being. Look to the brilliant work of E. Scott Geller, a distinguished professor at Virginia Tech and creator of “actively caring for people program (AC4P). Professor Geller informed me that ‘Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs’ was given another level up. In the 1970’s, Maslow himself, added to “self-actualization” the crown of “Self-Transcendence”. Transcending the self means you go beyond self-interest to actively care for others.
In closing again I channel the Gabby Hayes. I can hear him say “Dang nab it ! Sit up in your saddle. Look a yonder cause there’s a great view from here!”