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January 25, 2022


Hi there, 

I’ve always been reasonably law-abiding, but I was outed last week as a pool crasher in an extremely embarrassing incident. After I moved out of Century Village, a very large 55+ gated community, into a small all-ages community nearby, I kept going to the pool at my old digs because it was bigger, better heated, and had comfy tables and chairs, hot showers, and better accessibility. It was only a mile away, and I still had the bar code for the place on my car, so I figured what the hell. I’d been pretending to still be a resident for six months when I got outed last week by someone who called security. I was sunbathing quietly, minding my own business, when two security guards showed up, demanded my ID—which of course had expired—and unceremoniously threw me out. They scraped the barcode off my car and threatened to call the police if I did it again. Nothing like this has happened to me since my rebellious teen years.

I was outraged. Of course they were right—I didn’t legally belong there—but being treated like a criminal at my age was humiliating. I guess I should be grateful that I didn’t wind up as a #FloridaWoman. I can see the headline now: 79-year-old Florida woman arrested for pool crashing, pushes security guard into pool.

Okay, I didn’t do that. But I wanted to.

I’m Erica Manfred, Geezer Geek, Snarky Senior, and author of I’m Old so Why Aren’t I Wise? I moved to Florida alone in my trusty Ford Focus seven years ago from upstate New York and haven’t regretted it. I’ve always written about my life, and now that I’m old, aging and ageism are what I care about most. I’m writing this newsletter as part of the event platform Life Experienced. Each week, I’ll be exploring what matters to us later in life, from finding community, to nuts-and-bolts stuff like figuring out our phones. I’ll also be interviewing inspiring seniors. Know someone we should feature? Email us at or join us on Facebook

Do we really get wiser as we age?

We may be getting older, but are we getting wiser?

In search of the answer, a few years ago I interviewed three wise women, all of whom had done groundbreaking research in the field of wisdom and aging, for this article.

The first wise woman was Dr. Vivian Clayton, a geriatric neuropsychologist who is known as the grandmother of wisdom research. She virtually invented the field in the early ‘80s by doing the initial empirical research identifying the components of wisdom.

Dr. Clayton, now 71, has since retired and experienced aging firsthand. Since it’s the beginning of a new year during an unprecedented time of hardship due to a pandemic, I thought it was a good time to circle back to her. I wanted to find out what insights she has gained from her own experience since we spoke and what she has to impart to us.

What did you discover in your original research?

That wisdom has three components: knowledge, reflection, and compassion. Wisdom involves integration of those three qualities in a situation with consequences. It’s unusual to find a wise person who is impulsive. Wisdom relies on the ability to reflect and withhold a decision until you’ve considered all the components. It also involves being able to assess a situation with compassion. If you’re low in empathy, it’s harder to offer a wise opinion. If you’re too judgmental, you just rely on the knowledge component without encompassing both compassion and reflection on how your decision will affect the other person.

How does that relate to aging?

Wisdom doesn’t develop with age. People age in character. People who are inherently impulsive become more impulsive, people who are empathetic as children become more altruistic, and people who are reflective become more reflective. 

Can people learn to be wise in old age?

There are certain life events, like tragedies and trauma, that can awaken compassion and humility and gratitude. When there’s an external event that makes you turn the corner, that gives you a moment to reflect, to understand another’s pain and confusion—that’s an opportunity for wisdom. So I think life can offer opportunity for wisdom but you need to value that opportunity.

What have you personally learned about wisdom as you’ve grown older?

That we can’t control how our bodies age. The real surprise is how many unexpected, unplanned events increase with time, like illness and death. I think that as you age, a wise thing to do is to lower your expectations and aspirations as your physical capacity declines. I’m still able to be physically active, but I’m surprised at how tired I am in the evening.

We tend to admire people who are always busy—constantly doing things. That’s a mistake. As people get older in our society, they’re not taught how to use time. Our bodies slow down, and that affects everything, from cooking to thinking. Instead of society validating that, older people feel the pressure of everything being quick, which means feeling out of sync with what’s going on in the world. People who are really wise know what it is to slow down and let go.

How has the pandemic affected your outlook on wisdom?

My background helped me navigate it. I’m the youngest of eight first cousins who grew up in London during the Blitz. We talk a few times a week. Their perspective on having to live in a reduced, dangerous, difficult environment has been so helpful to me. They lived through rationing and trauma for five years. Even though the pandemic is serious, I still could take a walk, have enough to eat, and not worry about bombs falling.

Have any other insights come to you with age?

Yes. The decluttering movement from Marie Kondo is a useful paradigm for how to approach your older years. You are helping your heirs and yourself by letting go of emotional baggage and physical belongings.

Another thing that comes with age is the appreciation that time is finite. That’s what gives days their value. Rather than planning too far ahead, I’ve learned to appreciate the joy of waking up in the morning—seeing the sun rise and set.

Life Experienced exclusive events


Jodie Filogomo of Jodie’s Touch of Style knows it’s never too late to look great. Join her for a live event exploring how to make the most of your closet with new color combinations.


If you missed the exclusive live events last week, don’t worry! Check out the replays below:
These exclusive events are brought to you by Life Experienced and are hosted by our ambassadors.

Featured partner event

5th annual creative aging symposium: Rooted in belonging
Thursday, January 27
12-2:30 p.m. ET

Join Covia Well Connected, a Life Experienced partner, for this annual symposium about creative aging. Learn how to infuse more creativity into every aspect of your life with talks from older adult artists, authors, and thought leaders.


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What to listen to

The 70 Over 70 podcast is a twist on the lists that magazines love to come up with about high achievers at a certain age, like the Forbes 30 Under 30. This podcast doesn’t focus on achievement but on insight. According to the New York Times, “Rather than looking backward, ‘70 Over 70’ seeks a fuller expression of older people’s experiences of the present. [Host Max] Linsky has in mind big questions that benefit from the wisdom of age: What really matters in life? What is the source of resilience? How do you make sense of death and what comes after?”

Each episode features both an ordinary person and a celebrity over 70. You’ll hear Judith Light, Dan Rather, Sister Helen Prejean, Diana Nyad, Dionne Warwick, André De Shields, and Linsky’s father, Marty Linsky, among many others. It’s a fascinating series.

You can listen to 70 Over 70 on your phone (available on Apple Podcasts and Spotify) or on a computer.

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, 

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