Nine Solid Quotes on Aging

Here are nine insights on aging from the continuously growing body of books and research I’ve been moving through:

“Wisdom, properly understood, is insight into the problems of daily living. The reason that wisdom endures across millennia is that, despite advances in technology, the problems of living have changed little since ancient times.”

Reb Zalman, quoted in Second Wind, by Bill Thomas

“If you want to understand how you can find your optimal path to health and long life, modern medicine has relatively little to offer. Instead we need to turn to the contemporary fields of health psychology, medical sociology, life-course epidemiology, genetics, and life-span development.”

The Longevity Project, by Howard S. Friedman and Leslie R. Martin

“A fundamental problem with our current health care system is that its measure of success is the delay of death, rather than the quality of life. Living with dignity, feeling comfortable, and having self-determined, steadfast loving care until the end should be our goals for health care for our elders.”

The Age of Dignity, by Al-Jen Poo

“As an elder seeks to consolidate a sense of lifelong wisdom and perspective, he or she endeavors, ideally, not to exclude legitimate feelings of cynicism and hopelessness, but to admit them in dynamic balance with feelings of human wholeness.”

Vital Involvement in Old Age, by Erik H. Erikson, Joan M. Erikson, and Helen Q. Kivnick

“Engage with verve. Emotionally disengaging from any part of your life – your spouse, your kids, your work – cuts off the oxygen and the patient dies. That sounds dire – that’s my point, actually – because this insight surfaced again and again: Autopilot is death. Choose where to invest your energy, and do so intentionally, because the clearest path to a robust midlife is purposeful engagement.”

Life Reimagined: The Science, Art, and Opportunity of Midlife, by Barbara Bradley Hagerty

“Compelling evidence indicates that the aging process is highly individualistic, with enormous differences in the way various individuals age and in their subsequent performance in physical and mental activities. Some individuals in their seventies and eighties may be very active and produce their most significant contributions, while others in their fifties and sixties may be unable to function fully in society or may choose to withdraw from productive activity. Age as a sole predictor of performance is simply too crude a tool to reflect the actual capability of older people.”

Achieving a Productive Aging Society, by Scott A Bass, Francis G. Caro, Yung-Ping Chen, Jill Norton

“I like where I live, I know who I am, and I am not alone.” The psychiatrist was impressed. He realized that he had just heard about the most succinct definition of successful aging.”

Winning Strategies for Successful Aging, by Eric Pfeiffer

“Aging changes consciousness more surely than any narcotic; it does so gradually and organically. It digests the experience of a lifetime and makes us different people — sometimes so different that we are amazed, embarrassed, or even ashamed at the person we once were. Pious people often claim that religion offered them the chance to be born again. But, curiously enough, growing old can also lead to rebirth, a chance to leave old values.”

The Making of an Elder Culture: Reflections on the Future of America’s Most Audacious Generation, by Theodore Roszak

“If you learn how memory works and see the connections between the health of your neurons and the choices you make in diet, exercise, sleep, social activity, and how you challenge your mind, you’ll be more likely to harness your brain’s latent potential.”

The Mature Mind: The Positive Power of the Aging Brain, by Gene D. Cohen

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