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Why Won’t Older Men Talk About Aging?

The surprise this 85-year-old found by talking to slightly younger men

Growing older isn’t easy. There are physical changes — achy joints and graying hair — and key moments — such as your adult child hitting a milestone birthday — that remind us life has an expiration date. Yet management consultant Robert W. Goldfarb found that men around his age (he’s 85) are very reluctant to talk about getting older.

In a recent New York Times blog post, Goldfarb wrote about the many ways he keeps active. He subscribes to Internet memory games to help keep his mind sharp. He re-reads books from his time at college to revisit the youthful excitement that once existed within him. Still, he noted, he had noticed more and more people offering him their seat on the bus, and employees at the airport rushing to get him a wheelchair.

He decided to reach out to men his age to find out how they “navigate through growing old.”

Goldfarb was surprised to find that his friends were less than enthused to discuss aging.

“I found conversations with men my age awkward. Attempts I made to discuss aging were met with jokes about the alternative,” he wrote. “It quickly became clear I was free to contemplate growing old, but not with them.”

Feeling defeated and isolated, Goldfarb decided to take his wife’s advice to talk to younger friends to see if they were more willing to discuss aging. The difference was astonishing.

Men just 10 years younger than Goldfarb were candid about their feelings about aging. They spoke freely about failing memories and shared painful stories of situations like being forced into retirement.

Inspired by their openness, Goldfarb is now reinventing himself and questioning whether he does the things he does out of habit or for a good reason. He’s committed to leading a deeper, fuller life, he says. You can read the his post here.


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