Old age is not particularly special or virtuous in and of itself. Old age is simply the terminal stage of the human lifespan. What is good and virtuous, however, is giving back, contributing, growing and deepening your learning as you age. Senior citizens who achieve this are often described as “wise”. This article describes a beloved Japanese elder who stayed active and vibrant as he aged, contributing much to his community and country.


“Until the turn of the century, Dr. Hinohara was known mainly in the medical profession. Then, at age 90, he published “How to Live Well,” a collection of commentaries on life with his gentle visage on the cover, wearing a doctor’s coat and holding a stethoscope. The book said people over 75 shouldn’t be shunted to society’s margins, and he exhorted his fellow elderly citizens to consider themselves “on the job” of living even if they were retired from paid work. “

Stories like this are inspirational but we should remember that high achieving elders were often driven, high-agency people in their younger years. Is it possible for someone to radically reinvent themselves as a senior citizen? If you believe in the power of human potential, then the answer is yes.

Copyright © 2018 Terri Robin
Photo: Dr. Hinohara