Senior Transition Guide's Executive Director Comments on 'Why Everything You Think About Aging May Be Wrong'

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Senior living expert reacts to new evidence that the golden years for the elderly may be better than society expects.

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The important thing about the article is that seniors have it much better than 'Big Media' would have us believe

Jon Scott Williams is the Executive Director of the Senior Transition Guide, a online resource for senior citizens and their family members. Williams weighed in on a Nov. 30, 2014 Wall Street Journal article titled "Why Everything You Think About Aging May Be Wrong," which aimed to shatter the myths surrounding old age.

The article cites several academic studies and surveys that disprove long-held perceptions of old age. The studies reveal that depression, cognitive decline, loneliness, and other factors related to aging are actually far less prevalent among seniors than most younger people believe.

Williams said that this is no coincidence, and many of his senior clients find that "life gets better as we get older."

"In my experience, life gets better as we get older because seniors have learned what is actually important in life," said Williams. "Young people are concerned with making their mark, but seniors are concerned with leaving a legacy as a testament to their lives."

The article also mentions a significant increase in productivity and creativity, citing both Pew Research and a study from the University of Chicago, which analyzed the life's work of prolific artists, poets, and novelists. The latter study found that many creators learn from experience and have completed their greatest works in their 40s, 50s, 60s, or later.

This information comes to no surprise to Williams. "Seniors have learned how to make everything count," he said, "therefore, they are much more productive in any task they choose to work on."

According to Williams, that myth about declining cognitive abilities could be attributed to one simple fact: some seniors may not absorb new information as quickly. "But what they do know they know very well inside and out," Williams explained, mentioning that many seniors are also involved in life-long learning programs to keep the mind active.

Yet Williams can understand why the myths persist today, given that "we do live in a time when our culture tells us not to get old," he said.

Aging doesn't mean getting old, and successful aging, said Williams, allows a person to live each day one day at a time. "If we allow wrinkles to define us as old, we forsake the benefits of aging."

However, Williams did point out that one myth should be taken seriously: the article's sixth aging myth on exercise. Two studies, one from University of Missouri-Kansas City and the other from Iowa State University, reveal that too much exercise can actually do more harm than good, so Williams cautions seniors, especially, not to overdo their physical fitness routines.

Williams explained that his organization, the Senior Transition Guide, can help direct seniors to "the best in senior care options across the nation."

"These communities provide rich environments where seniors have the freedom to explore new areas of interest, focus on what is important to them, and enjoy well-prepared meals without the burden of maintaining a house or other living arrangement that needs constant attention," Williams said. "In short, they are free to achieve their life-long goals in a setting that is supportive of their abilities."

In his line of work, Williams also encounters seniors who live in these communities, and his experience reaffirms his views -- and the article's research -- on aging.

"The important thing about the article is that seniors have it much better than 'Big Media' would have us believe," he said.

And Williams commented that younger people would do well to learn from their elderly relatives and neighbors, especially when it comes to the wisdom of a long, high-quality life.

"The best way to find wisdom is to ask questions to any senior your meet," said Williams. "Questions like 'What is important in life?' Most people pay lip service to the wisdom of seniors, but if they were serious about their search for wisdom, they would be seeking answers from people who have lived the longest."

About the Senior Transition Guide

The Senior Transition Guide is a not-for-profit organization that aims to connect people around the country with the information, tools and resources needed to know their options for senior care. They help families consider their options for this important transition period. To learn more, visit

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