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December 7, 2021


Hi there, 

I’ve been thinking about Stephen Sondheim, who died at the age of 91 at the end of November. He was relatively healthy, if a bit frail, and died unexpectedly after a day at the theater, where he got a standing ovation, followed by Thanksgiving with loved ones. He departed this Earth the way we all want to—in extreme old age, at home in his sleep, with all his wits intact. Death is a subject we deny in this culture. But since we all have to die, we need role models for death, just as we need them for life. Of course you have to be lucky to die like Sondheim, but I think it’s possible to have a conscious death. I can’t help but believe that Sondheim staged it that way.

I’m Erica Manfred, a 70+ Geezer Geek, Snarky Senior, and Florida divorcee who has been writing about aging with attitude since before I signed up for Medicare. I’m writing this newsletter as part of Life Experienced, an event platform for seniors. Each week, I’ll be exploring what matters to us later in life, from making new friends, to learning new things, to helping others. Know someone we should feature? Email us at or join us on Facebook.

How to be seen as you age

I used to tell myself that aging would be easier for me because I wasn’t one of those beautiful women who attract a lot of male attention. I assumed I was used to invisibility because it was about losing the male gaze, and I’d never gotten many male gazes in the first place. 

I was wrong. I still hate being ignored, especially now that it’s by everyone.

Men get cut a lot more slack, but eventually ageism catches up to us all. According to a British survey by, people believe that women start to become “invisible” at age 52, while men avoid this fate for more than a decade longer—the average age for men was 64. But this is in Britain, where old people are more “seen” in the first place. In the U.S., we might assume that these ages of invisibility are even lower.

Invisibility feels crappy. If you haven’t seen this Grace and Frankie episode about the duo being ignored by a store clerk because he sees an attractive young woman customer at the other end of the counter, it should give you a laugh. Overlooked by waiters, considered stupid by cellphone salesmen, ripped off by car repair shops, talked down to by practically everybody, we go through a process of becoming invisible and infantilized as we age.

I refuse to be invisible. When ignored, I get angry. But that’s just me. Here are a few tips to making yourself seen and heard without becoming an obnoxious old person.

  • Be prepared. It’s hard to accept your invisibility to younger folks, but it will happen, no matter what you do. Don’t let it get to you. Remember, other people don’t define your worth, you do.
  • Speak up. You might be shy, or reluctant to seem pushy, but remember the only way to get attention is to demand it. You might not want to go totally ballistic like Grace, but you certainly can refuse to be ignored. Statements like, “Excuse me, but I was here first” can help. So can, “I’d like to speak to a manager about getting service.”
  • Keep up with technology. Young people like to talk down to us, assuming that we know nothing about how our devices work. I try to keep up with tech and give it right back to them. Being part of modern life requires learning new things constantly, which is good for your brain as well as your engagement in life. 
  • Keep up with popular culture. Educate yourself. Talk knowledgeably about Lizzo and Squid Game. Avoid trashing rap music and superhero movies. 
  • Be engaged. Mentor a student, volunteer in a literacy campaign, or become a CASA/GAL volunteer, helping kids navigate the social services system. As long as you know you are engaged in helping youth, it will make less of a difference what random young people think of you.
  • Socialize with all ages. Join groups with young people as well as old based on common interests.  

Keep putting yourself out there unless you are one of those seniors who actually LIKE being invisible (and the same study showed that’s 17 percent of us). Then you can relax and enjoy the peace and quiet. 

Featured event

Tropical dance party
Saturday, December 11, 2021
11:00 AM – 1:00 p.m. EST

Put on your dancing shoes and your favorite Hawaiian shirt and attend a tropical dance party on Zoom. Register for this free intergenerational dance event sponsored by AARP. Join at 11 a.m. EST for the tropical dance warmup, and at 11:20 you’ll have a guided dance party experience hosted by Radha Agrawal and Elliott LaRue, featuring live performances and music by Michael Franti.


What to read

Mel Brooks’s autobiography All About Me!: My Remarkable Life in Show Business just came out, and I ordered the audiobook version with him narrating. It promises to be hysterically funny. Brooks is 95 and sharp as ever. 

He talks in a recent interview about his strategy for Hollywood success, a lesson for us all: “I’d learned one very simple trick: say yes.” Joseph E. Levine, on The Producers, wanted Brooks to fire Gene Wilder because he didn’t like his curly hair. And Brooks said, “Yes, he’s gone. I’m firing him.” Of course, Brooks never did and Levine forgot.

Partner spotlight

Our partner Element3 Health is on a mission to help you stay passionate, creative, and connected. With hundreds of virtual events each month, you can easily connect with others doing the activities you love. Find their events on the Life Experienced website. Many insurance providers will cover the cost of your classes, or you can sign up for a free trial today!

Become a partner

Does your organization reach a community of older adults? Get in touch with us for information on amplifying your events and activities on the platform and expanding the Life Experienced service to your network. There is no cost to partnering. Get in touch with us here:

That’s it! Thanks for reading. And if you want to chime in with your two cents on what this newsletter should include, email us at

Until next time, 
Events are more fun with friends

Life Experienced is a new service powered by Kaiser Permanente. Whether you're a dancer, a reader, or a gardener, we can help you find local events and activities that you'll love.

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