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Elder Cool is Red Hot!


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Last month we discussed how grandparenthood is shifting radically from “the old days”. Maybe age really is just a number…

sc4Could the following elders be the next level of “whither grandparenthood”?

• Dame Judi Dench got her first tattoo at 81. It was a birthday present from her 43-year-old daughter. The actress had her favorite saying, “Carpe diem”, inked onto her wrist — although her costars, carping, you might say, on her eccentricity, insisted the tattoo said, “Fish of the day.” But even her creative achievement pales in comparison with this British great-grandfather, who got his first tattoo at 104!
• Indefatigable Betty White, 94, honored female rapper Queen Latifah by giving a dramatic reading of the latter’s hip-hop lyrics. Listening to White recite these words with such conviction is not only inspiring — it galvanizes respect.
• Norman Lear, the creator of some of the most successful sitcoms of all time, is still producing television shows at 94. Like Dench and White, he possesses a wonderful sense of humor. He says, “Often I’ll get undressed and look at myself, dissatisfied but amused — and I’ll sing and dance alone, in front of a full-length mirror. And I have wondered, for a great many years, how do we know that’s not the secret to longevity?” In this engaging 9-minute video, Lear auditions senior actors for “Guess Who Died?”, a show about the elderly that, he avers, “Nobody wants.”

Yet death itself is apparently becoming cool. Thanks to the Internet, obituaries now have an afterlife. We’ve discussed what happens to someone’s digital assets when they die — but the obits are going viral.

The weekend after legendary boxer Muhammad Ali died, Legacy.com published a 600-word obituary. However, nearly a million obituaries on the site received hits from the curious. The Legacy.com stories read like lifestyle blog posts and include pictures, which help draw readers in. The departed live on, in digital perpetuity.

The Second Half May Be the Best

Granville Stanley Hall, who essentially invented adolescence at the beginning of the 20th century with a landmark book by that title — when he himself was 60 — subsequently created the concept of senescence as well, publishing Senescence: The Last Half of Life at age 76. Even a century ago, Hall viewed later life with the same sense of renewal and possibility as Dench, White and Lear. He wrote,

“Modern man was not meant to do his best work before forty but is by nature, and is becoming more and more so, an afternoon and evening worker.” (And he’s not referring to shift work!)

“Not only with many personal questions but with most of the harder and more complex problems that affect humanity we rarely come to anything like a masterly grip till the shadows begin to slant eastward, and for a season, which varies greatly with individuals, our powers increase as the shadows lengthen.” Indeed, Hall’s greatest creativity and achievement came after age 50.

Hall’s words will be heartening for reverse mortgage professionals and the seniors they serve. Clearly, with the right perspective, we can use our gifts fully right to the very end (Hall published Senescence just two years before he died.)

Oh — and if you or an elder you know is considering getting that first tattoo, be sure you get the spelling right. Carpe diem!


Editor in Chief: HECMWorld.com
As a prominent commentator and Editor in Chief at HECMWorld.com, 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: info@hecmworld.com.

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  1. Very inspiring Amara. I love your writings on aging. Thank you for what you do for fighting ‘ageism’ in this country.

    • Hi Mary Jane ~

      Thanks for your kind comment. It’s the elders themselves who are so inspiring ~ I’m simply reporting. Betty White and Norman Lear are vital aging role models for everyone!


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