That Five Letter Word: “Still”

Why is ageism OK? Dr. Bill Thomas, an international authority on all things geriatric, notes older adults are diminished, virtually on a daily basis, by that five letter word “still.”

“My Dad is STILL driving at 84.” Or, “My Mom STILL works at 79!” Or, “Yes, my parents STILL live in their own home.” We boast to our friends and neighbors, as if these situations are extraordinary accomplishments few can attain. The truth is, with dramatic advances in healthcare and technology, MOST older adults can do many, many things. Our mindsets (and our language) need to catch up – stat! Culturally, we somehow believe 65 is our first step into obsolescence. Oh no . . . couldn’t be further from the truth! Consider the following, especially without the healthcare innovations and resources we enjoy today:

  • Michelangelo was still designing churches at age 88.
  • Peter Roget was updating his famous thesaurus when he died at age 90.
  • Leo Tolstoy learned to ride a bicycle at age 67, and wrote I Cannot Be Silent at 82.
  • Eamonn de Valera served as President of Ireland at 91.
  • Albert Schweitzer was operating his hospital in Lambarene, French Equatorial Africa, at 89.
  • Alexander Graham Bell was still inventing a year before his death at age 75.
  • Thomas Edison produced the telephone at 84.
  • Benjamin Franklin helped to develop the U.S. Constitution at 81.
  • Claude Monet began painting his famous Water Lilies series at age 76 and finished the work (250 paintings in all) at age 85.
  • Elizabeth Arden managed her cosmetics company through her 85th year.
  • Frank Lloyd Wright designed the Marin County Civic Center in California at age 88.
  • Leopold Stokowski signed a six-year recording contract at age 94.
  • Pianist Arthur Rubinstein performed professionally until he was 90.
  • Pablo Casals was playing the cello at age 96 and George Bernard Shaw was writing plays at age 91.
  • And at age 100, Grandma Moses was still painting pictures, while another centenarian, Tesichi Igarishi, celebrated his 100 years by climbing to the 12,395-foot high summit of Mount Fuji.
  • When Georges Clemenceau assumed leadership of France in 1917, during World War I, he was 76.
  • Winston Churchill was called to head the British government in World War II at age 66. He wrote A History of the English-speaking Peoples at age 82.
  • Charles de Gaulle was elected president of France at 69, the same age as Ronald Reagan when he became the 40th American president.
  • Amos Alonzo Stagg, who retired at 70 as football coach at the University of Chicago, the next year became coach of a small California college (now the University of the Pacific). He produced a winning team, was named Coach of the Year, and was still a coaching advisor at age 98. He died in 1965 at 102.

And the list goes on . . .

STILL? Really, still?
What are your thoughts about “still?”

3 thoughts

  1. “isms” of any form are not a positive in my world (ageism, racism, fatism, etc) either, well written piece! (applauding)

    Idea: Lets keep changing that still to a positive still as you have begun to do by reflecting on all the amazing people who are or have given us their all right up to their very last minute. STILL.
    (now to add just a few names to your impressive list)
    – Victor Borge
    – Andres Segovia
    – June Callwood
    – Tina Turner
    – Paul McCartney
    – Hemingway
    – Margaret Atwood
    – so many more…. literary, musical, social figures, so many have done so much for us and are STILL… Thank you for the reminder 🙂

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