22 Rules for Aging Brilliantly

We've found new ways to make sure you keep blossoming into an ever-better you.


Hey. You there. You, who doesn't tweet. Or update your status. Or pin to any pinboards. Or Instagram photos. It's time to reconsider your relationship with social media. Because whatever has held you back—"It's too confusing," "I'm worried about privacy," "It's a waste of time"—does not hold water. Have a friend walk you through Twitter so you can see firsthand when a tide-turning protest movement is born in 140-character bursts. Follow a few inspiration boards on Pinterest because you will (a) see lots of pretty pictures, (b) curate a whole world of beauty that belongs solely to you, and © find at least one dessert you absolutely need to make this weekend. If you have a child or a grandchild or an especially cute pet, join Instagram—because the smartphone owners who love you are dying to see this adorable creature of yours as much as possible.

Do all these things for all these good reasons and also because if you don't do them, you won't see your cousin's announcement that she's pregnant. You'll have no idea how hilarious your daughter's boyfriend looked in his Halloween costume. You won't know what's going on, and the relevant parties won't be rushing to tell you, because they'll assume you saw it on Facebook or Instagram or Twitter. That's the way of things now, and you must adapt.

The good news is, you can tailor your social-media adventures to your tastes and comfort level: If you want only your four sisters to see your Instagram feed, set it to private and accept only their requests. If you'd rather read tweets than tweet yourself, you're in good company—millions of users do the same. And if you test-drive Twitter or Facebook or anything else and don't get the appeal, that's fine, too—the point is that you simply must try. You owe it to yourself to remain relevant. You don't want to fall out of touch because you've decided that what is current no longer belongs to you. Social media won't make you young. But letting the world leave you behind is what makes you old.
Michelle Shih, O director of digital editions and lifestyle

Defy the Odds

"When I was 77, I broke my left elbow and was told it would take ten weeks to heal. I had an important triathlon coming up, so I said to myself, "Oh, no, it won't." I did everything I could to get fit. Five weeks later, my doctor told me I was good to go." — Sister Madonna Buder (a.k.a. The Iron Nun), oldest woman ever to complete an Ironman triathlon, age 82

Make Peace with Your Aging Parents

Jane Gross, author of A Bittersweet Season: Caring for Our Aging Parents—and Ourselves and cofounder of the New York Times blog The New Old Age, says standing by Mom and Dad as their lives end can change your own.

My brother and I cared for my mother for four years before she died, though she and I had always gotten along badly. It wasn't that we fought; we just didn't have much to do with each other. She was an unsentimental person, the kind who'd toss your high school cheerleading uniform before you'd even pulled out of the driveway to go to college.

When you're 17, you think, "I have the meanest mother." But when you're 50-something, you see that unsentimental side as useful. To the extent that you can be really good at being old, at having lots of really bad things happen to you and not become nasty, bitter, and blameful, my mother was amazing. The characteristics I had found so disturbing as a kid served her well in the end. She was very stoic, and it was impossible not to admire that. And that changed things for me—I saw her in a new way.

The truth is that helping your parents in their final years is the last chance you get to do anything about the baggage you have with them. If you don't do it then, you never will. Not that I knew that going in. All I knew was that if I helped her in this way—if I did it well—I would carry with me for the rest of my life all the good feelings that come with having done a very important thing right. And if I did it badly, I would feel guilty for the rest of my life. I'd set it up in my mind as a zero-sum game, which is how a lot of people see this sort of situation. But mine brought a nice, unexpected surprise: the opportunity to reconcile. I had no expectation that we would, but we did. Making that happen was a great gift. And I feel stronger, smarter, and braver as a result.