What Is Old, Anyway?

I saw a question this morning on Quora about the difference between old folks now and 70 years previously. This article sprang up full-blown, as so many seem to do.

First of all, what age is old? If you’re 20, 40 seems old. If you’re 50, 80 seems old. But if you’re 80, all those previous numbers sound young!

I’m 73, and I can’t figure out how I got here. Wasn’t I just 50 a few years ago? And except for a few sore muscles that show up when I walk more than my usual 3–4 miles per day, I don’t feel particularly old.

Those of us who too often get characterized as elderly or old are far healthier, physically and mentally, than previous generations. We grew up with medicines that gave us the chance for longer and healthier lifespans. We grew up able to find jobs we could do in our later years. We have access — many of us do, anyway — to far better preventive healthcare, which is huge.

And one enormous change has to be those of us who have gotten our second, third, or fourth wind at these ages, meaning we’re NOT. GOING. TO. RETIRE. EVER. We have found work we can do — work that is stimulating, work that keeps us on our proverbial toes, work that we actually look forward to — until we’re 100. (I’m aiming for 103, myself.)

These jobs, which are often entrepreneurial, tap into strengths, talents, and abilities we may not have been able to show or use in our earlier years. Working in companies often meant kowtowing to others, doing things the “corporate” way, or working because we had to. But as many of my Boomer generation have seen, it’s possible and desirable to reinvent ourselves in ways that play to our strengths, that keep us alive and relevant, and that make a huge difference in the quality of our lives.

We have friends locally, and we’re connected to even more friends worldwide, so our curiosity about their lives keeps us aware and awake. Although maybe we can’t or don’t want to travel too far, we can use Zoom or Skype to talk and see them, something we couldn’t have imagined 10 or 20 years ago.

We know more about the things that are really bad or good for us, and we make the conscious decision to be healthy and live life to the fullest.

Many of us have shed the old skins and masks we wore for so long that were composed of others’ expectations of us, of society’s rules for us – we found our true selves and we’re loving living as who we are!

I know I will never willingly retire, and why should I? As an editor / copyeditor, I am privileged to have work that I love and do from home, from a corner of my tiny 525 s.f. cottage on the bay in Massachusetts, and my mind and spirits stay wonderfully alive with every author I work with I learn every day, seeing their world through their eyes, and it’s exhilarating. I even still work as a corporate trainer (I just returned from California!), and I have just begun leading LinkedIn workshops in local Chambers of Commerce. Who knows what I’ll think of next year or the one after?

What’s not to love? I rise each morning, look out at the bay, love my two small dogs, and see what new adventures the world has for me.

How are you living YOUR life? What plans do you have for your future self?

Susan Rooks
Susan Rookshttps://grammargoddess.com/
With 25 years’ experience as an international speaker and workshop leader, Susan Rooks is uniquely positioned to help people master the communication skills they need to succeed. In 1995, Susan formed Grammar Goddess Communication to help business professionals enhance their communication skills. She creates and leads three-hour “Brush Up on Your Skills” workshops in three main areas: American grammar, business writing, and interpersonal skills. And recently she created and began leading introductory workshops to help business pros maximize their LinkedIn experience, offering it to Chambers of Commerce free of charge. As a copyeditor (and editor of nonfiction only), Susan has worked on projects ranging from blogs to award-winning children’s books to best-selling business books to corporate annual reports (with clients from half a dozen countries), ensuring that all material is professionally presented and free from grammatical errors. From the beginning, Susan’s only goal was to help everyone look and sound as smart as they are.
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Jonathan Solomon

What a wonderful message you have shared with us Susan, thank you most kindly.

Belonging to the same age group, I fully agree with you, at this age retiring is not an option, we leave that to the younger generation.

We choose to be happy with what we have got, we rejoice with every opportunity and we celebrate ourselves lost in the service of others. Contentment and a positive grateful heart ushers us into the amazing world of thankfulness.

I guess these days, by having a strong mental attitude, effective time management – ah, whatever that is 😊 – loving and making peace with ourselves, factually creates more ‘miracles’ than any medication.

I love your positivity Susan, you are an inspiration.

Jeff Ikler
Jeff Ikler

Well, you know you have a kindred spirit and friend in me, Susan. I often find myself saying, “I wish I had discovered this life 40 years ago.” But it was different times back then. I couldn’t have spelled “entrepreneurial” when I started thinking about college because working in and for an organization, whether it was a business or school, in my case, was kind of the expectation. Go out on your own? Huh? But, hey, here I am running my own little operation and meeting amazing people, as you pointed out, all over the world, including someone from Buzzards Bay, MA! Why just next week I’ll be interviewing someone in Ireland and a couple of weeks later, someone in Australia. Who knew, right?

A great post, thank you.

Larry Tyler

I love this and I love the so called twilight years. Dirt Roads , Dogs and grandchildren. Great story and thank you for sharing this with us.

Tom Dietzler

Ah Susan, that smile in your head shot says it all, something like that cannot be faked. I’m the third eldest person in this organization of 50+ people, so I shy away from starting sentences with phrases like “Years ago…” or “Back in the day…” or “I remember back in the (take your pick: 60’s, 70’s or 80’s…). It’s hard, in some ways, to deal with the fact that most everyone is starting to fit into one demographic – younger than we are.

But more and more, I see examples like yours, and it reminds me that, in the grand scheme of things, we’re all here for just a glimmer, and nothing is guaranteed to any of us. My parents are 90 (dad turns 91 tomorrow) and yes, they don’t do all the things that they used to, but they make the most of what they can do. We had dinner with my parents last Friday, and I asked my dad “Are you ready to turn 91 Wednesday?” In his own way, without hesitation he replied “I’m still working on today yet.” How perfect and sublime… when you’re 90, or any age, why look so far down the road that you aren’t enjoying the gift that today is. I always say that I learned so many things from him, one of my favorites is: “Every day is a good day, some days are just better.”

Thanks for shining that light on being wherever we are, owning it, and celebrating it. Here’s to you Susan, living life out loud, on purpose and with great joy.

Aldo Delli Paoli
Aldo Delli Paoli

I do not think that age, or retirement, can be a problem, in general. The important thing is, in the physical, to learn to know our limits in relation to certain activities physiologically influenced by the advance of years. While, as regards the intellectual aspect, we must commit to keep ourselves fresh and creative. To do so, in this rapidly changing world we must exercise the willingness and ability to withstand external stresses, acting to adjust our attitude and approach to the times, maintain a good competitive edge.
I believe that one of the paradoxes characteristics of the human being is that asks about the future and novelty, but practices the past and repeates the known. This is arguably the most dangerous thing, although legitimate. I believe that everyone us should pursue, either spontaneously or for self-education, new behaviors, new ideas, directing our intelligence and emotion towards such flexible attitude that allows to take opposing points of view, to exercise the doubt on beliefs, change our mind, abandon old positions, stopping behaviors even consolidated, etc. Only then we can reborn each day, and feel alive in a world that changes so quickly. And do not miss a good dose of enthusiasm, that is the common denominator of each role.

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