NPR’s Scott Simon on Why Older Adults Have a ‘Genius for Life’

Scott Simon, an award-winning journalist for National Public Radio, was the recipient of the Alliance’s Indispensable Person of the Year Award in recognition of his 2015 book Unforgettable: A Son, a Mother, and the Lessons of a Lifetime. His book poignantly captures his experiences with his mother during her last days. Simon accepted the award at the Alliance’s annual dinner on September 29.

Simon also addressed the dinner, sharing some of those experiences he had with his mother. The love and laughter. The tough moments. And the wisdom his mother imparted to him.

“Old people are identified as a demographic group, a market or a political lobby quite often,” he explained. “But my mother helped me to see how [she] often felt invisible and powerless. Old age is the toughest gig any of us will ever get.”

He recounted his mother’s struggles with everyday things and the sense of frustration she often felt.

But he also shared what his experiences with her ultimately taught him.

It is enriching and wise to make older people a part of our lives each and every day in our families. They’ve been around. They can tell us with the wisdom that young people can’t earn for a while when we’re being silly, when we’re too serious, when we’re lazy or working too much, and when we are not being fair to someone. They can tell us with the peerless experience of years of longing, of loss, regret, cheers, tears, grief, and responsibility, what really counts in life. Why would we let older people keep all of that inside, simply to themselves? The aging have a genius for life that is meant to be shared with all of us.