The myth of the grumpy old man

Grumpy old men and crotchety old women are often the labels jokingly given to older adults.

When the film Grumpy Old Men debuted in 1994, the premise was funny. Two elderly neighbor men putting on their best stereotypical crochety ‘attitudes, sniping at each other and at others around them. It was so funny, in fact, that a sequel soon followed – Grumpier Old Men. More guffaws. Leave it to Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon to make us all laugh!

“If you want to be happy, be.” Leo Tolstoy

I have the honor to meet and chat with elders in their 80’s 90’s, and a few in their 100’s.  Some are physically and cognitively fit who find happiness and purpose in community outreach.  They have amazing senses of humor, and they laugh and dream, aspiring to make the world a better place. Those who need some physical or cognitive assistance also have the same desires to laugh, connect, dream, learn and to make a difference! We are there to support them to be their best selves  – with the joy and happiness of  a mindful and purposeful life.  Elderhood is the crecendo of a lifetime!man-in-garden

  • Newsflash!   It turns out that everything does not go downhill as we age – the golden years are really golden!
  • That’s according to eye-opening research that found the happiest Americans are the oldest; and older adults are more socially active than the stereotype of the lonely, grumpy, crotchety  senior suggests.
  • Attitudes like self-esteem, quality relationships, defining life as meaningful, and exercising some independence can help people age well and to something positive even in the face of adversity.”

“Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life.” Omar Khayyam

In 2002 the National Institutes of Health held a “Successful Aging” seminar. In synthesizing the information presented at the seminar Dr. Judy Selerno, who directs the NIH’s National Institute on Aging, concluded, “Disease and disability are not inevitable consequences of aging.” In other words, simply seeing signs of aging doesn’t have to lead down a slippery slope of hopelessness or despair.

  • There is a national movement from many different organizations to change the paradigm of aging from the image of the grumpy, crotchety old person  to the truth of the wholeness in elderhood with the capacity to learn and grow and make a difference in the world.
  • I really admire the work of Saging International.  They were inspired by Zalman Schachter-Shalomi (28 August 1924 – 3 July 2014), who, in 1992 wrote the book From Aging to Saging: A Revolutionary Approach to growing older.
  • Saging International is a non profit organization looking at life in a new way as we age. They are exploring ways to harvest the wisdom of our lives, finding ways to transmit that wisdom as a legacy to future generations and to give back through service.Their goal is to help each one of us achieve our very best selves into elderhood.
  • Having a purpose in life and giving kindness can make ALL of us happier!

“Be happy with what you have and are, be generous with both, and you won’t have to hunt for happiness.” William E. Gladstone

If you want to experience real joy in your life, start giving away, start giving out… Retired couple Peter Grazier and Nance Cheifetz decided that they wanted to become full-time Fairy Godparents, so in 2003, they sold their Lexus and bought Bodhi, their 1990 Volkswagon kindness van, and have been hitting the streets of the San Francisco Bay Area with lunch and hot chocolate. “Adults should have more fun than they do,” says Cheifetz, who encourages everyone to join in the delight in giving.


11062337_10206528118188840_645394201235573404_nAbout the Author:    Jean Garboden is the Director of Education and Innovation at Compass Senior Living  , located in Eugene Oregon. Jean is an Elder Advocate and Eden Alternative Educator with over 30 years experience in not-for-profit and for profit health care organizations. She is honored to lead the mission and values culture development for Compass Senior Living.

Let this 2-minute video of kindness given by this senior couple just make your day a little happier!

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