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Author Warren Adler: Perspectives on Aging

Author Warren Adler: Perspectives on Aging

Warren Adler is the bestselling author of 50+ novels, hundreds of short stories, plays and essays including ‘The War of the Roses,’ ‘Private Lies’ and ‘Random Hearts’ (which was also a hit movie). His short story collection, ‘The Sunset Gang,’ was adapted into the beloved mini-series on PBS, which garnered Doris Roberts an Emmy nod.

At nearly 90 years of age, Warren remains extremely active and engaged. He has written motivational pieces on the joys and challenges of aging for a number of different organizations along with being interviewed recently by FORBES in a two-part series on aging along with publishing a video (at the bottom of this post) about his life and views on aging.

Booming Encore recently had the opportunity to interview Warren where he shared his perspective on aging along with some of the joys and challenges it holds.

By Dave Price

You’re almost 90 years old, yet you say you “don’t feel old”. What factors do think contribute to that “not feeling old”?

I am still projecting myself into the future, still ambitious, still physically active, still fantasizing, still imagining, still writing, still planning. Yes, my body shows signs of wear and the full-length mirror confirms it, but my mind still churns with ideas and rich memories. The greatest challenge of a long life is finding the emotional strength to withstand the loss of those we loved the most and to learn to soldier on with optimism and curiosity as they surely would have wished.

You’ve been actively sharing your thoughts on aging for quite a while now. What do you think are some of the most important things you have learned and/or sage pieces of advice you can share with others about aging from your life and experiences?

Aside from the clichés of maintaining your body health and keeping your mind active, try your best to avoid negativity and fear and seek out those people and activities that give you the most joy and intellectual stimulation. In the end, you are the only caretaker of your future. Find ways to fill your precious time with creative endeavors, stimulating relationships, and pleasurable moments. Above all, fight with all your remaining strength to avoid both isolation, depression and rage. You will find that a long life gives you the insight and wisdom to understand that no matter how we move into a world of so-called technological “miracles” human nature is constant and unchanging. Yes, expanding knowledge of the human body might give you the gift of a longer life, but it’s your job to make that time extension a continuing adventure of aspiration and a pursuit of accomplishment.

People often focus on the negatives of aging. But there are so many positives. What do you believe are the great benefits gained in longevity?

Never ever focus on the negative. Never tell yourself lies about yourself. Don’t project your thoughts into the inevitable ending. It will come soon enough by means you will never be able to fully control. Stay open to love, laughter, and those pleasures still possible by the body and the mind. You will observe much repetition in events as history relentlessly repeats itself. Above all, find ways to demand relevance by others. Irrelevance is one of the great curses of old age. Fight it with all your physical, emotional and intellectual strength. Demand attention by eager participation in the ever-changing present. As to the benefits, longevity is like seeing an old movie over and over again and finding something new that you have missed each time you view it.

You achieved your first true writing success at age 46 after years of rejection. Of course, rejection is part of life no matter what our age. It is difficult for many to overcome. Could you offer some suggestions in that area?

Rejection and failure can be great teachers. Analyze them carefully, but don’t allow them to thwart your dreams. We live in a world of intense competition and it comes with a heavy price. Many discover that the rewards are fleeting and the satisfactions that one thought they would achieve are illusory. Still, one can find personal satisfaction, however brief, in achieving a long held dream. With that cautionary note, I say if one finds in themselves a powerful desire and the inspiration of a great dream of fame, fortune, or whatever, what a thrill it offers people to enter that race. Go for it. Why not? Been there. Done that. Despite the negatives I have outlined, it is a great thrill to achieve your dream, especially on your own terms.

You’ve been able live the latter portion of your life involved with your early passion for writing. Many older people today have given up employing their “true” passion(s) in their lives. Some have even forgotten it. How can they rediscover their passion and then use it in their later years to ensure a more satisfying, meaningful autumn and winter of their final years?

Never let a powerful dream die. Keeping that dream alive may extend your life by refreshing its vigor with passion and energy. As for rediscovering that dream, it probably takes lots of social circulation and observation but in the end it is probably organic, meaning that you will have to look deeply inside yourself to find the hot button that resets that old passion.

There is a big debate about what old age is today and even what people who are older members of society should be called. Are they elders? Senior citizens? Seniors? Oldsters? Older adults? Does it even matter? What are your thoughts?

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet. The guy that wrote that some 420 years ago knew what he was talking about. Perhaps we should eliminate any designation that implies any contrived separation boundary and start out with a number with a plus sign….e.g  60+ which might change with use to merely the word “plus” or just the symbol + . This will help maintain discounts for people whose have past the high watermark of their earning potential.

Is there anything important about aging that we didn’t address in our 6 questions that you feel strongly about and want to contribute to our readers.

However one might sugar coat the statistics, the fact is that at this moment there are nearly two million people in the US who have passed their ninetieth birthday. This statistic skews lower as the nineties progress. At age 100 there are 55,000 humans still alive in America at this time with nearly three quarters being female. One wonders how many in this final decade still retain the ability of total recall, and to think and reflect clearly and logically about the events and lessons of their long lives and what they learned from this remarkable experience. Some say that artificial intelligence and gene manipulation might eventually make us immortal. Who knows?

Here’s Warren’s video:

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Dave Price operates a freelance writing/speaking/consulting/tour guiding practice in Washington, D.C., where he focuses on 3 topics – the Baby Boomer generation, classic rock, and issues on aging, especially those affecting men. A former journalist and educator, Price is researching 2 books, one on the status of classic rock music and its songs, performers, and fans today and the other a DC guidebook designed especially for Baby Boomers.