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Being an Older Person a Young Person Wants to Be Around

By Fran Braga Meininger June 19, 2023 Lifestyle

I work a few days a week as a professional chef and, at 68, I am the same age as many of my young co-workers’ grandmothers. It’s challenging sometimes, but mostly it’s fun, invigorating and keeps me feeling and acting younger than I really am.

One of the servers shared with me that she had enrolled in a month-long backpack trip as part of her first semester of college and, knowing I hike often, asked for training recommendations before her trip. I offered to show her some of my favorite hikes and she enthusiastically accepted. She’s 19.

It did occur to me that I may be asking too much from my body to keep up with someone so young, strong and fit, but I decided to give it a try and see if I could. We enjoyed our first hike together very much, and discovered we have a similar pace and stamina.

We’ve now completed eight weeks of fairly ambitious hikes and she is off to her adventure, and I find myself enthusiastically hiking more on my own and feeling encouraged to seek out more challenging trails.

I’ve been thinking about what it takes to stay vital and relevant to those who are much younger, and I have come up with a few ideas about how we can engage the company of young people despite the age difference.

Look for Commonality

Ask about their interests, talk about your hobbies, seek out what you have in common. For instance, this could be the latest book you’ve both read, favorite foods, travel experiences – anything to begin to form a connection between the two of you.

Save Your Doctor Talk for Your Peers

Don’t talk about your latest surgery or malady. It might be comforting to compare notes and seek support from your peers, but most young people enjoy good health without giving it much thought. So it’s not at all in their frame of reference.

Inquire Gently

Ask about their life, but don’t grill them about school, their life plans, or their relationships. They’ve just started out and they’re already under enough pressure to make those big life decisions.

Listen More – Talk Less

If you want someone to open up to you, give them time and opportunity. Ask open-ended questions and, once they start talking, listen intently and keep your responses neutral and supportive.

Be a Worthy Confidant

Respond positively and with compassion no matter what they confide in you. Don’t judge, it stifles honest communications. Always be honest but coat it with kindness.

Keep in Mind Times Are Supposed to Change

Don’t harp on how much better things were when you were young. Your glory days are treasured memories, but they don’t translate well across the generations. Cultures evolve, and it’s up to each generation to curate their own.

Their Age Is the Digital Age

These young adults grew up as digital natives, it’s as much a part of their life as the telephone was to us. Don’t criticize social media. It’s how they engage. It may seem impersonal and foreign to you, but it works for them.

And finally, understand you are not peers. There will always be years between you, varied perspectives and life experiences. Celebrate the differences, allow them to open you to new ways of seeing the world. Having the courage to join in and be an active participant in a young and modern world isn’t always easy, but if you take the plunge, your life will be significantly enriched by the experience.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

How old is your youngest friend? How did you get acquainted? What hobbies do you share? Do you do any of them together? Have you shown this young person that one can be a vital and active woman beyond 60? Let’s have a conversation!

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Letitia Suk

One of my dearest friends is 35, I’m 73. We spend time together often and both enjoy it. I also mentor a group of 20 something women from my church. I think my enthusiasm for a full and fun life at this age is appealing to them and I learn from them as well.


Love this article! We need younger friends to help us keep a youthful perspective!!

Catherine Vance

Don’t we all remember when George Burns was asked, “Why don’t you date women your own age?” He replied, “There ARE no women my own age.” Well, at 68, all of my colleagues are younger! I remember when I was called “the kid” so it’s fun to now be the grand dame. They love this grown-up (but not old) hippie and I love them. I am still an active trial attorney in family law and I love reassuring the young lawyers when they get kicked in the teeth in court; I always have a story to make them feel better. AND, I often ask THEM for advice because brainstorming with someone younger is always invigorating.
In our profession, we ARE experiencing the same drama, pain, disappointments, and joys. I believe this to be true in all professions, even if not at the same stage in our personal lives.
They are having babies–I am congratulating them.


We have friends aged from early 20s to early 80s, many from different countries and cultural backgrounds. It’s really interesting as we all learn from each other.
My great nephew is 23 and just graduated in Fine Art. My passion is going to exhibitions so we have a lot to talk about, last weekend I went to ArtBasel (in the US it’s held in Miami).

I love being with people of all ages and we all get along just fine. My husband is the oldest in his team at work and is the go to troubleshooting guy for his younger colleagues.


This is sweet when I think of my “youngest” friend who are actually under the age of 3 because I work in child care; however, I would say in their 30s. It’s sweet when my son’s friends text me for coffee or when they come into town to look me up:). I agree with all your ideas of how to stay engaged with the young people!

The Author

Fran Braga Meininger writes personal narratives about the years beyond youth, a time in a woman’s life that can be vibrant, fulfilling, and wonderful, despite – or perhaps because of – all that comes with age. She lives in northern California where she hikes, bikes and lives life in big bites. You can visit her website at

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