Shared from the 11/30/2020 The Topeka Capital-Journal eEdition

The American Elder

The New England Journal of Medicine published a study in 2018, reporting that the most productive age in human life is a lot older than you might think.

The article said: “An extensive study in the USA found that the most productive age in human life is between 60-70 years of age. The second most productive stage of the human being is from 70 to 80 years of age. The third most productive stage is 50 to 60 years of age. The average age of a Nobel Prize winner is 62. The average age of presidents of prominent companies is 63. The average age of pastors of the 100 largest churches is 71.”

If it is true that we peak at 60 and begin this extremely productive cycle in life, why do we buy into black balloons and “Over the Hill” birthday cards at 50?

In other parts of the world, Elders are held in high esteem. There is a path that is culturally accepted to elevate those who grow old. Elders are seen as wisdom holders, teachers, mentors and keepers of the culture. Younger people are expected to learn at their feet and absorb the wisdom of age.

It is not so much that older people are always right; they have just had more time to learn from their mistakes. And certainly, advanced age is no guarantee of wisdom.

In America, we need our own standard for Elderhood. Since it is not widely embraced as a historical norm, we need to identify the characteristics of the ideal American Elder. My list would include life-long learner, curious, humble, empathetic, self-confident, self-deprecating, candid, generous, emotionally stable, compassionate, kind, fun, joyous and happy. What would you add or subtract?

Can you imagine living in a society that not only accepted but anticipated the path to Elderhood? Imagine a world that would actively seek the insights and productivity of older people in business, politics, religion, education, medicine, etc.

Why put Elders out to pasture when we are potentially throwing away the most valuable asset we have? Productivity does not mean running a marathon at 70, but it does mean finishing the race with enthusiasm and intent. As older citizens in our communities, we need to be the standard-bearers of the American Elder.


Your adjectives don’t match, but I’m not sure how to correct “expansive thinking.” I put a suggestion, but you can think about that.

Find Connie’s new book, “Daily Cures: Wisdom for Healthy Aging,” at www.

See this article in the e-Edition Here