Becoming the Older Generation / Part 1: Who's That In the Mirror? - Skip to content

Becoming the Older Generation / Part 1: Who’s That In the Mirror?


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“You don’t stop laughing because you grow old. You grow old because you stop laughing.”

 ~ Michael Pritchard

Once our parents die, we’re the elders. It’s a sobering thought for mid-lifers who are energetic, enthusiastic, and don’t remotely feel as if they are approaching “old age”. Many reverse mortgage professionals, as well as the clients they serve, are or soon will be facing this gateway.

How to prepare for a life stage transition when you’re 25 inside is the rub. (Years ago, on his 75th birthday, my Dad exclaimed, “I look at the number and I can’t believe it. There’s a little boy in there!”)

Maybe aging really is all in the mind. An intriguing article in The New York Times Magazine describes how, in 1981, a Harvard psychologist took eight men in their 70s back to 1959. She didn’t have a time machine, so she created a time warp by bringing her volunteers to a house that had been retrofitted in every way to resemble 1959, from the books on the shelves to Ed Sullivan on the black-and-white TV.

Before arriving, the men were assessed on various biomarkers such as hearing, vision, memory and cognition, dexterity, grip strength and flexibility. The psychologist postulated that after a week’s immersion 22 years in the past, the men would improve in many of these metrics — and she was right.

After imagining themselves two decades younger in everything they said, thought and did during the experiment, when the subjects were retested they showed greater manual dexterity, more flexibility — and improved eyesight. Independent judges said the men looked younger. Best of all, echoing the ethos of the seniors in the movie Cocoon (produced four years after this experiment — which was not published), a spontaneous touch-football game erupted among the test subjects as they waited for the bus to take them home. While the Cocoon seniors supposedly gained their rejuvenative capacities via a life-force charged swimming pool, the Harvard experiment seems to suggest they might have achieved the same effect simply by believing they were young again.

Since most of us are going to live a lot longer than we think, it behooves us to make our later years as positive and energized as possible.

The residents of Ikaria, a remote Greek Island for whom the mythical Icarus is named, are among the longest-lived people on Earth. Yet there’s no great mystery to their longevity: they have strong community ties, eat a healthy Mediterranean diet, eschew processed foods, and are insulated from most modern conveniences. They also get plenty of exercise every day doing the kinds of chores most Americans wouldn’t dream of (such as milking goats). They take naps, and enjoy a relaxed, relatively stress-free lifestyle.

Short of moving to the Greek islands, we can emulate their vital aging secrets by refusing to complain and living each life stage with grace and joie de vivre.

What can reverse mortgage professionals do to support clients and prospects in fostering this kind of attitude, especially among those seniors who may need their spirits lifted? One longtime loan originator who sees his role as broader than just business says, “When a client perceives you as being open and honest, with their best interest at heart, it paves the way for acceptance of what you have to say and offer. It also opens doors to more friendships.”

Consider, too, that service serves the one reaching out as much as the one who is helped. To last month’s post about some very elderly people who are working at dream jobs, add this 99-year-old seamstress who sews dresses for impoverished African children, turning out a dress a day! Until the media discovered her she did this work anonymously, out of the simple desire to use her exceptional sewing skills to benefit the less fortunate. Is it a coincidence that she’s supple enough to sew a dress a day at age 99?

This live painting portrayal of a woman’s life demonstrates in four minutes how beautiful a person really is — at every age and life stage.



Editor in Chief:
As a prominent commentator and Editor in Chief at, Shannon Hicks has played a pivotal role in reshaping the conversation around reverse mortgages. His unique perspectives and deep understanding of the industry have not only educated countless readers but has also contributed to introducing practical strategies utilizing housing wealth with a reverse mortgage.
Shannon’s journey into the world of reverse mortgages began in 2002 as an originator and his prior work in the financial services industry. Shannon has been covering reverse mortgage news stories since 2008 when he launched the podcast HECMWorld Weekly. Later, in 2010 he began producing the weekly video series The Industry Leader Update and Friday’s Food for Thought.
Readers wishing to submit stories or interview requests can reach our team at:

Leave a Comment


  1. What a BEAUTIFUL article. GREAT reminder that we ALL need to continually adjust our mindset/outlook/method of operation in order to stay ‘really’ alive as long as we live.

    I read, enjoy, take to heart, and implement as needed your work a LOT.

    Thank YOU for keeping the light burning and for encouraging others to do so as well.

  2. Perhaps we need to relax and look at the Greek people you focused on. Perhaps milking goats is one of those dream jobs. How do these older people have the strength in their hands and patience to make their goats relax enough to release their milk without fighting?

    Yet let us not get carried away. About three decades ago, an older colleague of mine had great bat speed and had the leg speed and coordination to play softball far better than many of us his junior. He once played collegiate baseball and had two softball teams his age he regularly played with.

    One of the infielders of our company’s team was hurt and my colleague was asked to replace him. The average age of the other company team players was twenty years younger and he generally played outfield but had the necessary skills to play first base for the company team.

    The first four innings went great. He was injected into the start of the lineup and had a couple of hits, a run, and a rbi. Then came the fifth inning and a hit just out of reach to his left. He got his glove on the ball but tore his Achilles tendon in the process. Six months later after surgery and months of rehab, he was able to function normally at work.

    When asked by a vice president who had not worked with my colleague in a few years why the limb, he replied: “I thought I was younger than I am.” Or as one person I know says: “Feel young but don’t exceed your (age) limitations.”

  3. Hi Carol ~

    Thanks for your heartfelt comment! I’m honored to be of service and it’s a joy to know the blog is useful to you in your business.


  4. Cynic,

    Wise thoughts to contemplate. I imagine relaxed people tend to create relaxed goats, as animals respond to and reflect the energy of the humans around them (speaking of wise teachers!)

    So while it’s great to live full-out at every age and life stage, we also need to be mindful of our capacities and behave responsibly toward our body as well as our mind and spirit.

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