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Dr. Ruth On . . . Act your age! (What does that mean?)

Created date

February 27th, 2009

Talk to most adults and deep down inside they don t think of themselves as being their physical age, but still consider themselves to be the age at which they hit maturity, probably somewhere between 18 and 21. Certainly people s personalities grow up a bit as they go through certain stages, such as getting married and especially becoming a parent. But while our bodies grow older, our spirit stays pretty much fixed. So if someone tells you to "act your age" and you re 75 and going off on a ski trip, as far as you re concerned you are acting your age, which to you is a lot younger than your physical years. I m 80 and it s only been over the past couple of years that I gave up skiing. For me, the odds of my getting hurt are just too high, and because I m so active in so many other ways, such as teaching, for example, I don t want to jeopardize all my other activities by taking the risk of getting injured. So the lesson to draw from my example is that you should certainly take into account any physical changes that age brings. On the other hand, you should take full advantage of everything else that is still wide open to you. If you can t teach because you never graduated from college, then I would suggest you may want to go back and get that degree not because you need to hang it on your wall, but because the knowledge that is up for grabs on a college campus is worth having at any age. I would feel sad for someone who got their degree at 21 and never tried to learn anything new again. Learning is something we should be doing until the day we die. And allow me to let you in on a little secret: one of the reasons that I still teach is that I learn so much from my young college students! Of course, some seniors do act inappropriately for their age. Older women showing a lot of cleavage or an older man flirting with 20-year-olds is not appropriate. I m not saying that older people can t be sexy, or, heaven forbid, engage in sexual activities. But as I said in the beginning, this concept of acting your age is not an all-or-nothing proposition. Sometimes you have to push aside any limitations that age might play, and other times you have to use some common sense and take your age into consideration. So there are times when physical limitations will force you to act your age; other times when decorum should nudge you into "acting" your age, but most of the time you should just go through life as if your age doesn t matter one whit.

While our bodies grow older, our spirit stays pretty much fixed.

Dr. Ruth Westheimer