“Aging is a matter of mind. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.”
That saying, or any of a thousand variations, has been attributed to Mark Twain or the seemingly ageless professional baseball pitcher of the 1930s to ’50s, Satchel Paige.
Despite both men’s apparent indifference to growing old, neither of them coined the phrase. Actually, a North Carolina newspaper first reported it in 1968, the Statesville Record and Landmark.
But how the saying came about is not as important as what it means.
Paula Edwards, director of the Peggy Seegars Senior Center and Wayne County Services on Aging, told features editor Becky Barclay that a “silver tsunami” is about to wash over the nation. By 2035, Edwards said, about 79 million people in the U.S. will be age 65 or older. Currently, North Carolina ranks ninth nationally, and the state and Wayne County can expect to have the storm of gray thrust upon them as baby boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964) push beyond the age of retirement.
At that point, the better saying might be: Age matters, whether you mind or not.
Edwards went on to say that for the next 18 years, about 8,000 people will be turning 65 each day.
The senior center and Wayne County seem prepared for the growing number of people advancing to 65-plus. The center has about 1,000 members, and many people are taking advantage of programs offered throughout the county for those who have stepped into the second stage of life.
The thing to remain aware of is that more creative programs will be needed to support seniors. But these efforts cannot be expected to come from the county alone. It will take a series of public-private partnerships and the charitable work of nonprofits to meet the advancing aging needs.
We would welcome, in fact encourage, open discussion of how we can all help. If we do not come together soon in this effort, the “silver tsunami” may be too powerful to control or overcome.