Stupid Things I Won’t Do When I Get Old


Not only is that the title of a new book by Steven Petrow and Roseann Foley Henry, but it is also a way to take inventory of life so far and a road map of how to best approach what’s left.

A self-proclaimed “highly judgmental, unapologetically honest accounting of all the things our elders are doing wrong”—from double spacing after a period to blathering on about our aches and pains, making us part of what Petrow calls the “organ recital”—Stupid Things I Won’t Do When I Get Old provides a practical list of the do’s and don’ts of aging.

Don’t hoard. Do let your hair go gray. Don’t bore relatives, or complete strangers, with tales of aches and pains. Do ask for help when you need it—so reading glasses when your vision starts to fail. Don’t drive until long after you’ve become a danger to others. Do make friends with people younger—and older—than you. Don’t eat dinner at 4pm. Don’t avoid looking at yourself naked in the mirror.

And don’t fall prey to “everyday ageism”—including everything from dismissive quips about not being able to use a smart phone properly to jokes about losing memories or hearing.

“This reinforces the stereotype that old is bad and young is good,” says Petrow. “According to the World Health Organization, older adults who hold negative views about their own aging live, on average, 7.5 years less than people with positive views.”

That means, ageism is as harmful to our health as smoking, he adds.

Getting older is a privilege. Live each day with that in mind.

As Gabriel García Márquez once wrote: “It is not true that people stop pursuing dreams because they grow old; they grow old because they stop pursuing dreams.”

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