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A Piece of My Mind
June 10, 1998

On Being Eighty

Author Affiliations

Edited by Roxanne K. Young, Associat Editor.

JAMA. 1998;279(22):1766. doi:10.1001/jama.279.22.1766

Our society's preoccupation with the downside of senescence has resulted in neglect of the upside. The upside deserves better of us. It turns out that there are a good many positives that go along with advanced years.

The most obvious one is the personal freedom that attaches only to the later decades of life, because never before has such freedom been as complete. Even the halcyon period of childhood, the closest equivalent, was encumbered with the necessary discipline of schooling. And all the adult decades that followed each carried its own distinct burden of responsibility, obligation, and imperative.

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