In 2016, the World Health Organization created a global campaign to focus attention on stereotypes about aging and designated October 1 as “International Day of Older Persons.”
We don’t have to wait till October to correct popularly held ideas about getting older. Here’s a selection of quotes to acknowledge the changes that time brings and celebrate the gifts that this period in life can offer. As a philosopher once sang, “the silver lining’s got a touch of grey.”
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“If you are pining for youth I think it produces a stereotypical old man because you only live in memory, you live in a place that doesn’t exist. Aging is an extraordinary process where you become the person you always should have been.” David Bowie
“I have made a rule about such things, which I commend to you, young man: As soon as you feel too old to do a thing, DO IT.” Margaret Deland, American author. From “The Awakening of Helena Richie.”
“There are six myths about old age: 1. That it’s a disease, a disaster. 2. That we are mindless. 3. That we are sexless. 4. That we are useless. 5. That we are powerless. 6. That we are all alike.” —Maggie Kuhn, founder of the Gray Panthers movement
“When it comes to aging, we’re held to a different standard than men. Some guy said to me: ‘Don’t you think you’re too old to sing rock n’ roll?’ I said: ‘You’d better check with Mick Jagger’.” Cher, from “Fifty on Fifty: Wisdom, Inspiration, and Reflections on Women’s Lives Well Lived”
“Aging is not ‘lost youth’ but a new stage of opportunity and strength.” Betty Friedan
“You can live to be a hundred if you give up all things that make you want to live to be a hundred.” —Woody Allen
“If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my years on this planet, it’s that the happiest and most fulfilled people are those who devoted themselves to something bigger and more profound than merely their own self-interest.” John Glenn, in donating his personal and Senate papers to The Ohio State University in 1997 in order, he said, to encourage young people’s enthusiasm for public service.
“Nobody grows old merely by living a number of years. We grow old by deserting our ideals. Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul.” Samuel Ullman
“When you get to my age, you’ll really measure your success in life by how many of the people you want to have love you actually do love you…If you get to my age in life and nobody thinks well of you, I don’t care how big your bank account is, your life is a disaster. That’s the ultimate test of how you have lived your life.” —Warren Buffett, addressing Georgia Tech students who asked about his greatest success and failure.
“We live in a youth-obsessed culture that is constantly trying to tell us that if we are not young, and we’re not glowing, and we’re not hot, that we don’t matter. I refuse to let a system or a culture or a distorted view of reality tell me that I don’t matter. I know that only by owning who and what you are can you start to step into the fullness of life. Every year should be teaching us all something valuable. Whether you get the lesson is really up to you.” Oprah Winfrey, in “O, the Oprah Magazine” 2011
“We don’t stop playing because we grow old. We grow old because we stop playing.” George Bernard Shaw
“Don’t try to be young. Just open your mind. Stay interested in stuff. There are so many things I won’t live long enough to find out about, but I’m still curious about them. You know people who are already saying, ‘I’m going to be 30—oh, what am I going to do?’ Well, use that decade! Use them all!” Betty White
“My face carries all my memories. Why would I erase them?” Diane Von Furstenberg, from “The Woman I Wanted to Be,” 2014
“The longer I live, the more beautiful life becomes.” Frank Lloyd Wright
What’s your favorite quote?