Better With Age


Walking across a college campus for a business meeting with the athletic director of a Midwest college an epiphany hit me. In my late thirties college aged people hardly noticed me. I suppose I just looked like someone’s Dad. It occurred to me that I had become “invisible to college girls”. And that makes sense considering I was on average close to twenty years older. However, the male ego is a fragile thing.

I’m absolutely certain the twenties are not an age I would want to endure again. Too much change; too many mistakes; too much uncertainty and a general lack of respect from those older. The thirties were a time of arriving, but not yet getting there. I swear I did not deserve to be called an adult until at least my 40s!

The quality of my life has continued to improve as I have aged. An article published in the U.K. sheds light on aging.

Researchers have found that people’s’ mental abilities peak at 22 before beginning to deteriorate just five years later.

Professor Timothy Salthouse, “Results converge on a conclusion that some aspects of age-related cognitive decline begins in healthy, educated adults when they are in their 20s and 30s,” he said.

The study of 2,000 men and women lasted over seven years. The respondents, aged between 18-60, were asked to solve visual puzzles, recall words and story details and spot patterns in letters and symbols. The research by the University of Virginia found that in nine out of 12 tests the average age at which the top performance was achieved was 22.

The first age at which performance was significantly lower than the peak scores was 27 – for three tests of reasoning, speed of thought and spatial visualization. Memory was shown to decline from the average age of 37. In the other tests, poorer results were shown by the age of 42.

However, the report published in the academic journal Neurobiology Of Aging, found that abilities based on accumulated knowledge, such as performance on tests of vocabulary or general information, increased until at the age of 60.

Another article about a related study in the same U.K. newspaper said, “While university-age participants were quicker to make choices which led to immediate rewards, another group aged 60 to 80 were much more adept at taking strategic decisions which took future stages into account”. Two experiments designed to mirror realistic decision-making scenarios showed that older people were far better at making choices that led to long-term gain.

So to the college kids who I am invisible to, enjoy your twenties because it’s downhill after that. I just can’t help smirking a little when I write that. The next time some 30-something hotshot who thinks they have the world by the ass lays a ‘tude on me I will silently think he or she is actually quite comical. They’re already past prime in some ways and don’t even know it.

I am happily grateful to be a bit less admiring of younger ages after reading the British articles. I’ve gotten better with age. All in all, I am the best I have ever been.

It’s not how old you are,
it’s how you are old.
Jules Renard