Whether you like the particular phrase or not, the fact is, almost everyone maintains some sort of mental list of “things to do before I die”. Often, things on the list that seem big — maybe unachievable — are actually quite possible if you put your mind to it. For example, 91-year-old Walter Thomas had it on his list to drive a car through a garage door. And guess what? He did it. Now come on, if a nonagenarian can go around crashing cars, what’s really stopping you from ticking those items off your list. Life is short. Go live it!
While there are certainly plenty of great elder-care facilities, and, moreover, many of the elderly love living in communities with their peers, there is a big, societal question that rarely gets asked. When, exactly, did we decide that the elderly should be going to these facilities, instead of staying with the family, or at least in the community? Kudos to Julie Wittes Schlack for raising the question.
You’ve been warned in advance: this is a longer read than what normally gets posted here. But it’s worth it. Ellen Langer, a Harvard psychologist, ran an experiment in 1979. There is academic criticism of the experiment, because it was small, unorthodox, and perhaps lacking in rigor. Nevertheless, it feels intuitively right. And if it feels right, and the experimental data backs it up, we should probably run with it. Here’s hoping we see many more experiments just like this. And for those of you who don’t want to read the whole thing, here it is in a nutshell: start living as if it were 20 years ago, and you’ll become younger in almost every way imaginable.