575. Expert Interview: The Smoldering Embers of a Fiery Youth–Aging with the Right Attitude
Larry Minnix has been a leader in the non-profit aging services field since 1973. He was associated with the Wesley Woods Center of Emory University for 28 years, the last decade as CEO. He then became CEO of LeadingAge for 15 years. LeadingAge has been the “trusted voice for aging in America” since 1961, representing over 6,000 non-profit organizations.
Larry has received numerous national awards for leadership by the National Council of Aging and others, and LeadingAge named their Leadership Academy after him to honor his retirement in 2015.
He has three degrees from Emory University, is an ordained United Methodist clergy, the author of numerous articles and speaks and consults on long-term care issues around the country.
Aging with the Right Attitude
“A word about ‘the smoldering embers.’ I was walking through a crowded airport concourse. Suddenly, the concourse traffic is dividing. It must be somebody in a wheelchair, I thought. But it wasn’t. As I get up close, I see a wiry-looking guy. He’s every bit of 80-something—tan, leathery skin, a white flat-top haircut—and he’s wearing ‘anatomically correct’ athletic pants. He’s wearing white shoes and black socks. There’s a determined look on his face, like he’s heading to a bar fight, ready to whip someone’s butt. And the message on his T-shirt said, ‘The smoldering embers of a fiery youth.’ And I thought, now that’s the attitude!”
Why Is This Important?
“There are four basic approaches to aging.
1) You can be a victim and essentially become a disease. People taking this approach will introduce themselves as their illness. ‘Hello, I’m an arthritic.’ Or, ‘I’m a cancer patient.’ People who are victims and become a disease tend to isolate themselves.
2) Take on aging like it is a peak and decline situation. ‘Lordy, Lordy, Don is 40.’ It’s a view that somehow life is on the upswing until a certain age, and then it’s all downhill. These people create a self-fulfilling prophecy for themselves.
3) View aging as a second childhood, or they deny aging altogether. They may get Botox treatments, a trophy spouse, buy a car they should not be driving, or dye their hair. They want to go back to the way they came into this world. Everybody knows they are getting older. It’s not as if people aren’t snickering behind their backs about their vain attempts to look young.
4) Or, they can choose to see aging as a process of ages and stages—gains and losses, new opportunities—‘I can no longer play center field, but I might be a heck of a good coach!’”
What Are the Key Lessons Learned Here?
Some secrets to growing old gracefully:
- Learn to laugh and cry.
- Keep some semblance of mischief about you.
- Maintain an interest in other people.
- Practice your spirituality, and stay active in your church, synagogue or mosque.
- Make sure everyone you care about knows that you love them–sooner rather than later.
Connecting With Larry Minnix
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