EMERGING is the “New Older”.
A startling new older individual is appearing from the mist. Out of the fog of what we think are our limitations as we age. A “new older” is reported each day creating well into the age of “80” years and beyond.
Is this surprising? Just think when you say to yourself, “I don’t feel 55 or 65 or 85. I’m still 18 inside”. Don’t let the Age Police (representing society and media) catch you thinking that out loud.
Yes Ageism exists. Yes there is age discrimination. That’s old news. Let’s get on with recognizing and understanding more about those that successfully soar above that false framework.
Inspiring 90-year-old individuals I have met, reveal to me their “teflonesque” character. They slough off the notion that they should be frozen where they stand. They continue to live life. They write. Volunteer. Many are discovering how to get paid for their experience. (More about in my next post) These “new older” engage daily in their lives to enthusiastically help other lives. Live each day with a remarkable type of “age valor”. Betty at 100 writes her children’s books. Tom at 95 still coaches to his former students that are now CEO’s of companies. Loretta at age 93 still teaches children to play the piano. Evidence of the unbeatable power of Wisdom is being re-discovered in apprenticeship classes offered by state governments like Connecticut Department of Labor, community colleges such as Seattle Central College and many others. Harnessing the life experience of the “new older” to aid in creating the new.
It’s not just the extension of life expectancy. It’s the exciting expectation that you can now receive the rewards of using your powers of experience in contributing and interacting with others. Imagine being valued in truly new ways as you age. We have much work to do, but we are going to discover a new value system for the new older.
Each day another member of the “new older” is quietly ripping away another piece of society’s and the media notion that strictly defined being older. John Cleese of Monty Python at age 77 is still touring and entertaining. The Rolling Stones. More importantly the continuing efforts by thousands of others you never heard of. Like Ron Mathis* a race car designer whose team won the X-Prize team for a new car that gets 100 miles to the gallon.
Be encouraged. A new time is upon us. One that avoids the fatal definitions of retirement. Even what we called “The Rest Home” or “Happy Vale” are being re-imagined to be more active and satisfying. And with good riddance. You can see this model alive in the soon to be renamed Senior Living Centers.
It’s time to roll up our sleeves and dust off the staid precepts. Believe you me there’s plenty of new ideas that need to come to life, just to trigger better self esteem. It’s time to write new narratives. New stories. And yes you can be kind to those who still declare they are too old to be of worth, but for me they need to go take a hike.
Having lost my Dad to cigarettes at age 60, it emboldens me to honor the years he lost by the hope to possibly a light a path to good health for those that are older.
A whole new set of individuals are arriving daily. New archetypes that will encourage others. It’s time for you to believe again. Shifting the perception of how you see yourself is utterly life changing. Starting practicing. And practice again to see that little hopeful soul when you were a kid. It’s still there. Lift off the stones and boulders of self-esteem. Your zeal. Your joy. Your purpose is ready to emerge.
You don’t have to make a grand entrance. The best of us, quietly step up without fanfare. If you still feel as though you are lost in a fog. Get out there and learn about something new. Maybe that one something you thought you weren’t allowed to do. Do that first. For me, I’m off to get busy. But if I see you, I’ll be proud to shake your hand.
The City of Cold Shoulders? That was not the New York City I just recently visited.
What does this have to do with aging? It is truly a fact, you improve your chances of living longer and happier, when you build a group of supportive caring friends that you support too.
Four doors down from my Air BnB I met Miss Astrid of the Norwegian Seaman’s Church. She gave me a tour of the small church, introducing me to some beautiful Norwegians as she prepared breakfast. A special set of bookshelves caught my eye that featured Norwegian foods. A packet of LOFOTEN fishesuppe (a fish soup) was my purchase. But the greatest prize was discovering these lovely people who welcomed this overly curious, Texan stranger that walked in their door.
Lilac Candy Chocolates since 1922. Meet one of the owners, Christopher Taylor the newest generation of candy makers for Lilac. A wonderful fellow, readily and generously offering free samples of all kinds of Lilac treasures. I found in a new shop in Brooklyn, located in a newly recovered warehouse district.
Since the 1870’s the Easter Parade, on 5th Avenue in front of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, has been the fashion runway for sartorial display and just outright joyous New Yorker wearables. Here I snapped a random photo of a Pharaoh with stogie and his instant picture pal. Also standing nearby with his 1947 Speed Graphix Camera with a Polaroid back, was Mr. Louis Mendez. I said to Mr. Mendez. “Can I take your picture ? “Get it clicking Man”, he replied.
Dean & Deluca, a gourmet take out that caught New York City by storm when I lived in Manhattan, has now experienced a renaissance. Here in instant conversation Mr. Matthew Koleos, an inspirational, hard working manager asked me about Austin, Texas and offered advice on the finer points of plying romance with food.
Mary Jones of the New York Public Library (not shown here) was an Angel. of She got me the key to city by helping me get a New York Public Library Card (shown here).
Drawn to Sad Stories. Train our brains to look for Good.
Most studies show we are irresistibly drawn to sad, depressing stories in the news. However, we share more stories about good things in social media. And the effect of monitoring good news can train our own psychology to be happier in managing difficult times. This is based on the combined research of Marc Trussler and Stuart Soroka, at McGill University, Canada. And as noted in Psychology today article by Ray Williams. Positive psychologists tell us we can train our brain to acquire new habits by focusing on good news. Let our brains acquire “mirror neurons” that develop a positive attitude can spread to other people like a virus. To quote the article. “This is not about being a Pollyanna or “goody-two –shoes”, it’s about being able to reprogram our brains.”
Get out into the world and practice to see life in a more balance, realistic way. I’m joining the league of belief that this can help stem the tide of depression and possibly suicide.
Manhattan stationed these great souls in my path. Living proof you can find great people everywhere. Hard working and caring individuals that manage to keep our world happier, more loving and safe in spite of horrific headlines
Here’s your open invitation to take charge. I challenge you to the death defying act of becoming a better ager. Always be on lookout for a new friend.
“I know now that I am older, my opinion doesn’t hold much water… but uh ..I’ve got a few ideas uh…I mean you know I’m this age and not as young as I used to be and uh…”
As Ralph speaks he dissolves into mush through computer generated effects. Camera widens to show people in healthier shape and older than Ralph. They are laughing wearing running clothes and slapping each other on the back.
Are you surrendering like Ralph? Or are you still excited about the adventures ahead ?
Think back to when you were a kid. It’s not silly. When you day dreamed about growing up as a ….An astronaut. A scientist. A policeman. A fighter pilot. A doctor ?
What can you do?
First wake up! Then immediately start discussing your ideas with other people you respect. A best friend. Minister. Somebody with smarts. Leave no regrets. The guitar you wanted to learn. The trip to wherever. That crazy invention, left in the closet or garage.
Start living again. C’mon cut down on the sugar. Take longer, faster walks. Your winning checkered flag will appear. Get off your ass and step on the gas. I’ll be cheering you before the finish line.
What was Obi-Wan Kenobi’s Jedi secret ?
Drawing from the writings of Joseph Campbell and the evergreen wisdom of mythology; George Lucas, Marcia Lucas (his former wife) and Lawrence Kasadan accomplished the almost impossible in creating the film Star Wars. The actor Alec Guiness brought to life an inspiring elder who amazed younger audiences and reminded older ones of the possible force within themselves.
Having a weapon of belief by your side wins battles. Conquers discontent. Creates unity and peace.
Revenge of the Ages
How did your grandparents and their parents find the courage to stand on the battlefield of time to get you here?
Volunteer to converse with the residents of today’s new Orphanage, called now Assisted living. While visiting think of how we can make it better when you get older.
“Help like Obi-Wan Kenobi ! It’s worth hoping for.”
If you are curious in creating the new… then come share with me (email@example.com ) and I will share with you the value of being older. C’mon there’s galaxies of opportunity for us to still glow before we go.
At 307 South Bridge Street in Victoria, Texas when I was a kid, during Fall mornings I woke up to the sound of hammer on steel coming from almost two houses away. “Bam! Clank! Clank. Bam.” Mr. George Conti the blacksmith hammered on iron in the back of his brother Joe’s Hardware store. Conti’s hardware. George was a tall, narrow statue of man with a long Ichabod Crane face. Fire illuminated his smudged face, great smiling teeth and brightened the edges of his dark circular goggles.
Day after day he danced over that furnace in the middle of a barn like room. Thousands of pieces of shiny bits of coal strewn across the floor. Mr. Conti pounded away at iron. Bending it. Shaping it. A new cattle brand for a local would appear right before your eyes. Farm equipment restored. Or a gate mended stronger than ever. Striking when the iron was hot and pliable. Cooling it in the water trough where it harden solid again. The best thing about it for me? Watching this great quick smoke fill the air and disappear, followed by a rugged perfume of burning coal smoke, hot sizzling metal, grease and oil. I’m sure it wasn’t great for your lungs, but I do remember how oddly comforting it all smelled.
Fire it up again.
Mr. Conti’s work is a metaphor for aging today. Now comes the opportunity to strike when the iron is hot. Time to create new ideas, stories, plans and actions to reshape aging. Given these actions Boomers will see purpose, unearth a new value of self worth that’s stronger than any steel.
Take heart, skillful storytellers are appearing to tell the tale of how to construct a shinier future. Not with corny wishes nor stories typed through rose colored crappy glasses. But with real ideas to utilize older individuals in a positive light. Everywhere we look now on the subject of aging is a lopsided, out of balance, end of world storylines. Yes it’s time to strike with the fire that’s hot. Things are just heating up. Join in, start designing your age. Send the old ideas to blazes. Your fiery new ideas are welcomed here. firstname.lastname@example.org
Time to make it happen again.
When did freedom of religion become the reverse meaning to discriminate ?
Why did people go silent when poor people were blocked from voting? And poor people that worked hard now have become the enemy?
How did we get even more politicians to become corrupt to
ensure the outcome to extreme right or extreme left causes?
Why were gun crazies allowed to make it bad for responsible gun owners?
When did people start believing that business would treat us more fairly than a government that was not perfect but had rules to protect us ?
And have those protections carefully erased?
When did the poisoning of our food, land, air and water become disguised again
as the price of good business? And I have watched as family and friends have gotten Cancer or become ill become as a result.
When did TV and Internet News figure out they could make even more money by pumping up the fear and produce a divided states of America ?
When did Universities and Colleges lose touch by not keeping up and providing degrees that would ultimately help our young people get jobs that would have a sustainable wage?
All of that hate and fear wasn’t how we saw the future when I was a kid.
It was going to be a brighter future.
We are still a gifted nation of great people with winning ideas and compassionate
hearts. Where most importantly the majority of Americans are WILLING to work together to find answers. But that picture isn’t give the time of day on our internet or TV screen.
When you were 18, you were going to change the world. Then you had to go to college. Get a job. You got married. Had kids and a mortgage. Now is your time again.
The world doesn’t have time for you to wait any longer. You can make it happen.
“Houston we have a problem. New York we have a problem.Cleveland,Birmingham we have a problem.” The list of cities and towns with this problem goes across America. The problem is we see no value in older people. No value in Boomers either. Achieving this Moonshot is about revealing evidence that there is financial, and social value to being older. And Boomers are coming back to make sure this happens. I can hear their rockets firing from way over here. Retiring = Death. In more ways than one.
A Sneak Peek.
Recently a friend retired from an organization that calls her back for special projects. “Tuck, I’m helping the company’s franchisees sell their businesses and making the succession transition easier. They don’t have anyone around anymore that has the experience.” This brain drain she tells me will come more and more apparent. Look at the studies and evidence from Kaufman Group to Wharton College that note individuals over 55 are almost twice as likely to launch high growth startups. And have sustained success.
The Challenge: Value in Being Older.
Right now we have no set standards of why older people are of any value ?
Our societal declaration in advertising and media communicates to women in their 40’s that they are almost toast. Gray haired is colored in by a lot of worried men in their 50’s. Since the 1960’s the accelerator of thought has been floor boarded that Youth is the gold standard. So how do we show worth in older individuals?
There are 3 fronts of attack to answer this Moonshot of Value for being older.
1)Self Awareness- People have to understand and believe that they are worth value to society and business. 2) Society has to recognize the value. 3) Business has to see overwhelming value. There are a lot of moving parts here.
As an advertising guy I see part of it coming as a robust public service campaign. Cities across the U.S. were finally successful with their communication campaigns against trash and litter. From “Pitch it in the basket” to “Don’t Mess With Texas” and the “Truth” campaign was spot on in diminishing the attractiveness of cigarette smoking. An “Age Value” campaign with smarts, clever execution, and real evidence needs to go forth.
Why It’s Better Now.
Some scientists are engaged in the fight. You’ll find my book Design Your Age offers some tools of showing how people are more valuable, but we can always use more bang for the boomer here. Meet Dr. Nancy Morrow Howell a brilliant, Gerontologist and Professor at the Harvey A. Friedman Center for Aging at Washington University in St Louis. Nancy is looking at communication, guidelines to help older adults and getting a wide spectrum of ages to team together on solutions. The same goes for the work of Marcie Pitt-Catsouphes with the Institute of Aging at Boston College. Or the work of Mick Smyer, Former Provost at Bucknell University and others. Their work and classes are building newly recognized foundations of value.
WHAT CAN YOU DO ? BE IN MY MOVIE.
Help me and email me why it’s better now. Tell me what is better now that you are older. Email me at email@example.com I’d like your words, your iphone video or your skype call. I’m going to film it. Help me plant this flag. This Moonshot isn’t about hanging your bare bottom out a car window. It’s about reaching for something higher. Showing how value for older people is truly out of this world good.
Dealer: Psssssstttt. I’ve got a new, secret anti-aging gift here for you.
Mary : Really ? Good quality ? With Adult or Pre-Natal Stem Cells ?
Dealer: Pre- Pre-Natal. Guaranteed to grow your Telomeres. Fueled by cellular hypodermination. Repairing. Rejuvenating. Re-cleansing. You’ll be a Telomere donor after this stuff.
Mary: Dear Lord, I could outlive my children.
Dealer: I’m not sure, unless you get some for them too.
Mary: And how much is it ?
Dealer: I can get you in on the ground floor with multiple down streams.
And this first delivery…well it’s free.
PARTY ON !
Recently a friend invited me to attend a little party as there were individuals who would might be very interested to hear about my new book, Design Your Age. As we walked into this beautiful large home in Austin, Texas we could see women encircling the dining room table. A special “ageless” crème was being applied to their faces. The women were asking each other, “Does this side of my face look better? What about here ?”
Get in on the ground floor.
“Oh God” I thought to myself. “It’s a multi-level marketing sales party.” But then I became fascinated to see the anti-aging pitch. Everyone was asked to the living room and watch a special DVD presentation. On screen a woman roughly in her late 30’s in tailored workout gear delivered a passionate speech to the viewing audience. To paraphrase. “You’re getting older. You might no longer be the trophy and your husband might get another trophy. And if he has been playing a little loose with your joint investments here’s a good way for you to stay young and make a stronger independent income. The dialogue was scripted to mine anxieties of the women in the room while offering a miraculous, yet common sense solution.
The camera began to reveal the immortalizing wonder
products. CGI film techniques were employed to make them magically appear. Filling the room was an emotionally driven sound track and voice over with a litany of superlatives that would make Steve Jobs break out in the biggest smile. Lots of RE’s…..Repairing. Restructuring. Revitalizing. Restorative.
But wait there’s more.
Just then through the front door walked in the host, a fit fellow, roughly around the age of 40. Well polished appearance in a light blue dress jacket. A charismatic ringmaster who went on to underscore the claims. “This is very rare, but I know a lady who makes a million dollars a year.” But the one claim that stopped me dead was .. “Yes this is the only product proven to grow Telomeres and strengthen the Telomere strand.” I was interested in this claim because one of the key engines in aging deals with the age of a cell and its ability to divide is related to structures – telomeres – found at the ends of chromosomes. He further described the patented product as a discovery by a renown age scientist. And the ringmaster’s assistant chimed in by saying most of the products in the room were now been sort of endorsed by Kim Kardashian. “And Kim’s no longer doing botox.” The murmur of “hmmm….oooohhhh” went across the room. Later I discovered the renown age scientist was a very popular plastic surgeon in New Jersey.
All the guests had the best intentions. The seductive suggestion of immortal beauty or the return of it, the flowing wine, the different beautifully packaged supplements, crèmes, lotions, and pills were powerful persuaders. But the claims! I could hear the little man Hervé Villechaize from the Fantasy Island TV show screaming in my thoughts. “The Claims. The Claims”. My friend and I found our way to the front door.
“Bunk em. Having longer Telomeres does not mean better health.
And this product does not grow Telomeres.” This was the consensus from some of my age scientists friends actively engaged in true age research. I had gotten my email response the next morning after the party. In the area of Telomeres there are studies indicating that some Telomeres and their mechanics may indeed attract certain types of Cancer. ( 2. R.T. Calado et al., “Telomere diseases,” N Engl J Med, 361:2353-65, 2009.)
“Cellular senescence. Pre-Natal Stem Cells. Telomeres. Autophagy cleaning. Life Extension. Gene expression. New words are streaming out of scientific journals, biology classrooms and the nightly news reports. Each are being carefully cherry picked, massaged and wholly manipulated for audiences. In my trade of advertising they are also called “weasel words”. You don’t exactly tell the truth, you sort of weasel the language to make it seem absolutely true.
Who’s the Sheriff in town to protect us from the anti-aging product slingers? The FDA has slapped warnings on companies such as Avon and Lancôme. As recent as this year, a warning went out on StriVectin a product sold in Nordstrom and Bloomingdales who makes pricey anti-aging potions. Their claim its Potent Wrinkle Reducing Treatment ($99 for 1.7 oz.) was “clinically proven to change the anatomy of a wrinkle” and that its Advanced Tightening Neck Cream ($95 for 1.7 oz.) could “restore the elastin fiber architecture… improving resistance to gravity.” We all need new verifiable proof.
Where’s the Truth ?
So how do you know what’s true and what’s crap science? Turn to the research of scientists at Age Research institutes. They are the tried and true revolutionaries hard at work at unlocking the challenges of aging. First to truly end the disastrous diseases of Alzheimer’s, Dementia, Cancer, Diabetes and others that pop up as we reach older age. Getting your information from age institutes is where to find the real gold, the real answers. Check out first AFAR.org. The American Federation of Age Research. Many age research institutes offer up healthy regimes for you to follow, which from time to time I will post here. Be wise, be wary the age hucksters out there. The last quote I remember from ringmaster was not about science but how ‘aging products’ were estimated to generate 191 billion dollars by 2019. The one thing that Anti-Aging Hucksters will make look younger are your pants pockets when they are empty and turned inside out.