The April/May 2012 issue of the AARP Magazine has this on the front page “How she stays forever young…” Something about that struck an odd note in my mind. Is staying young the goal of aging?

Well, the answer is no. Aging, per say, has no goal. It is simply what happens as time passes. Wine ages, getting better as time passes. I think people do not “get better” over time, nor do we get worse. We have a life and from beginning to end, each moment is a gift and no better or worse than the next.

But back to the value of staying young. It is a common term used for older people and it implies something good. What good? The young are immature, impulsive, and have yet to attain full brain functioning, complete educations, independent finances, etc. No, the term does not imply those aspects of youth. It is implying the positive aspects of strength, agility, beauty, sparkle, drive, joy and delight. It implies these qualities, but why do we associate these qualities with youth? Well, we must be assuming the young have and the old do not. Thus, the corollary  of “staying young” is “getting old.” And by implication we know how awful that state can be.

This is an inspection of the words we use and the ways words imply conditions and how if we hear it often enough it comes true. Just ask any Madison Avenue marketing person about why we think Kleenex® is for blowing our noses. Staying young is one use of words that conveys an unintended message and one that we tend to believe.

Like other negative words, (insert the ones of your choice here), it is time to select alternatives. New words that send a positive message. I suggest that phrase on the magazine cover be revised to read, “How she stays strong, agile, beautiful, sparkling, driven, joy filled and delighted.”


I cannot find the source for this photograph but it is widely reproduced across the Internet. That’s not a claim to fair use but it is an acknowledgement of a great picture.