Some things improve with age

The other week, one of the profs was looking up medication side effects for a parent. This prompted some vexed musing aloud, “Does anything improve with age?”

In retrospect, it was probably one of those rhetorical questions that people don’t really expect to get answered. With my attention mostly focused upon some specimen slides, I answered, “Wine and cheese.”

“No,” he clarified, “in people.”

“Oh.” Slight pause on my part while I did a mental search. But of course, my inner google is a buggy beta-version. “I know there’s something, I just can’t remember it right now.”

Later on that evening I remembered them:

  • Perspective: When you’re older, you have a much better idea of what things really are important.
  • Coping : A lot of things that we do as coping skills are so ingrained we don’t even recognise that they are coping skills. We forget how many things used to be laboriously taxing, like driving stick in traffic, juggling different kinds of demands, and so on. (The reason we get grouchy when things change is because that means we have to re-arrange all those coping strategies we had forgotten we were using.)
  • Discrimination: After a lifetime to buying clothes, cameras, eating out, and other complex choices, we have developed internal algorithms that take into account numerous objective and subjective qualities. We have figured out what things are worth spending money on, and what things aren’t.
  • Appreciation: We also know just how important seemingly inconsequential things can be, like dry socks.
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