Third Third in the News – January 2024

By Mark D. Roberts

January 5, 2024

Article, De Pree Journal, Third Third

Here are some of the third-third news stories from last month that captured my attention.

“Don’t call me ‘old’: Avoiding ageism when writing about aging”

Stephanie Morrison of the National Institute of Aging, December 27, 2023

Morrison offers wise advice on how to talk about aging without falling into ageist stereotypes. For example, she advocates the use of terms such as “older adults” and “older populations” rather than words with negative connotations such as “the aged,” “elderly,” “senior,” “senior citizen,” and “boomer.”

She does not, however, explain her title “Don’t call me ‘old.’” I can imagine why she’d say this. But . . .

  • Wouldn’t the world be a better place if “old” didn’t have such negative connotations?
  • Don’t we want to change the sense of “old” rather than giving into the current ageism associated with it?

“The One Thing You Should Never Ever Do if You’re Over 60 and Want to Stay Healthy

Emily Lawrence, Parade, December 24, 2023

Oh, don’t you just love (or hate) titles like this?! You read it and you think, “What is that one thing? Am I doing that one thing?” So you’re compelled to read the article, which, of course, is the point of such a title.

The “one thing” isn’t a matter of diet or exercise. It isn’t smoking or drinking too much. Nor is it sleeping on the train tracks. Rather, quoting from Dr. Marilyn Gugliucci, a professor of geriatrics, this article says, “The most important thing people 60 and older should avoid doing is thinking negatively about aging.” The article points to a World Health Organization report that says self-directed ageism “is associated with dying an average of 7.5 years earlier.”

The Parade article cites several studies, including a Harvard study that found that people over 50 who were “more satisfied with the aging process were at a lower risk for diabetes, stroke, cancer and heart disease.” Yet this article does not mention the groundbreaking study by Becca Levy of Yale University, whose research is the source of the “7.5 years earlier” statistic (see Levy’s book, Breaking the Age Code).

  • What are you thinking and how are you feeling about getting older?

“A New Study of 8,000 People Shows Being Surrounded by Nature Slows Aging at a Cellular Level”

Jessica Stillman,, December 22, 2023

This popular article reports on the findings of a scientific study published with the more august title, “The relationship between greenspace exposure and telomere length in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.” Whew! That’s a mouthful! The article puts in plain language the fascinating findings of the academic research, which found that regular exposure to nature can actually help our brains age more slowly.

Oh, I’m all in on this one as a lover of nature. In fact, I’m writing this article after hiking in the hills above Pasadena with my family. One of my favorite lines from the Inc.compiece says, “Time outdoors is one of the easiest and most well-supported interventions for improving your mental health. And, of course, hiking is great exercise for your body too . . . .”

  • Are you able to regularly spend time in a natural environment?
  • Where could you go in the next week to be in nature?

“The case for the intergenerational C-suite: Why companies need more age diversity in their leadership ranks”

Martin Reeves and Adam Job, Fortune, December 18, 2023

This article begins by emphasizing the need for companies to include “more experienced” (i.e. older) workers. It points out that this is happening on the CEO level in the U.S.: “The average hiring age of CEOs at Fortune 500 and S&P 500 companies has risen dramatically over the past two decades—from 46 years old to 55 years old.” However, older leaders often lack the long-term perspectives and creativity of younger leaders. Thus, companies “should strive towards intergenerational leadership models to achieve an improved balance between experience and curiosity.” The big conclusion: “Age diversity in leadership is crucial for overcoming today’s and tomorrow’s problems.”

This article focuses on leadership in large companies. But there is also a growing trend among startups for leadership to be shared among younger and older partners. See, for example, “Recipe for Start-Ups: Mix Older and Younger Partners.”

  • In your work, whether for pay or as a volunteer, are you regularly working alongside people who are not your age?

“You’re not gross and sad for getting older. Here’s how to think about aging instead”

Deborah Netburn, Los Angeles Times, December 12, 2023

The bulk of this article is an interview with author and retired psychotherapist Connie Zweig. In this interview, she talks about how she needed to confront her own inner ageism, which was coloring her view of herself as well as that of other older people.

Ultimately, Zweig published her learnings in a book, The Inner Work of Age: Shifting From Role to Soul. I have just begun to read this book and, so far, am finding it thought-provoking. Given that “inner work” is the De Pree Center’s Winter 2024 theme, I’m sure I’ll have more to say about Zwieg’s book in the future.

  • Do you ever find yourself making ageist assumptions, comments, or jokes . . . even about yourself?

If you’d like to see several more third third news summaries from December, you can check out a post on my Substack blog.

Banner image by Getty Images on Unsplash.

Mark D. Roberts

Senior Strategist

Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders,...

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