Maybe the “New Old Age” Isn’t a Good Thing After All

We hear a lot about the “new old age.” As advances in medical science allow people to live longer than ever — and healthily so — we’ve all had to reorient the way we think about “old.”

Many of today’s elderly can work and run and even revel with the best (and youngest) of them… but should they?

Baby boomers’ prolonged vitality is so often celebrated that maybe we’ve never paused to ponder whether an active old-age lifestyle is as freeing as it’s made out to be. But a Wall Street Journal writer is doing just that. Out with the new old age, he says, and in with the way it used to be.

“The ancients,” he insists, “had it right.”

In his mid-70s himself, Daniel Klein has determined that old age was always intended as “a unique and invaluable stage of life,” one that people might miss out on if they opt to stay in the rat race.

If Klein has you questioning your own approach to aging, you aren’t alone. It’s hard to know whether “liveliness” or “leisure” is the more rewarding pursuit in the latter stages of life.

Maybe balance is the key. A little activity here, a little rumination there. Of course, individual personalities and temperaments matter too. What seems stressful to me might feel therapeutic for you. We all find energy and inspiration in different and surprising places.

Klein is to be commended for recognizing that the dominant trend among baby boomers — that is, staying ever active, bustling, and busy — simply isn’t for him. At seventy-something, the man’s earned the right to live life as he pleases.

Let’s hope we all approach our own next stages with the same candor and self-respect, whether it finds us running a race or rocking a chair.