Senior Citizenship

APR 15, 2019 | Reprinted from

I know today is tax day. Last week, in the wake of the Great Tax Cut Act of 2017, we wrote the largest check to the People of the United States in our long history of paying taxes.

You’re welcome.

But that’s not what I want to talk to you about.

There was a fascinating article in the Sunday Washington Post about what happens as we age. And when I write “we,” I mean me.

This is timely (see what I did there?) because of the age disparity among Democratic candidates. And because Donald Trump is about my age.

The average age of the 18 Democrats announced as, or assumed to be, candidates for President in 2020 is 53.33 years and range from their 70s (Sanders 77, Biden 76) to their 30s (Stalwell 38, Buttigieg and Gabbard 37).

The median age (which I now know how to calculate in Excel) is 50.5.

The WaPo article was written by former Post Managing Editor, Robert G. Kaiser (age 76). As a much younger man (72) I read the article with some interest.

Kaiser makes the point that while some level of mental acuity diminishes as we age (think: Standing in front of the cupboard having no idea why you opened the door in the first place), we trade that for additional years of experience and, one hopes, accrued wisdom.

The other side of that coin, according to psychologist Denise C. Park (67) who said there are trade offs to that wisdom thing among older people “specifically in their capacity for quick processing of new information, remembering details, and the ability to process and use new information.”

A clinical psychologist once told me: “Everyone leaves their keys in the refrigerator once in a while. It’s when you believe the keys belong in the refrigerator that you may want to think about calling for a reservation at The Home.

In modest acknowledgement to my advancing age, just last week I shifted the Mullings Worldwide flag from an office in downtown Washington, D.C. to my den in Northern Virginia. I didn’t retire, because I’m still doing what I was doing; I just don’t have to go across the Arlington Memorial Bridge twice a day to do it.

Mentally, I still have it. As noted above, just today I learned how to calculate a median number in Excel. I can even remember why I thought it was useful to know how to do that. I can still turn a phrase pretty well, but I may hit the SHIFT+F7 combo (which brings up the electronic thesaurus in Microsoft Word) a bit more frequently as I search for a better word.

Also, I have developed some coping mechanisms. When I was still going into The District every day, the first thing I did when I got to the ground floor was put my house key into the front door lock. In that way I knew that, when I got to my car, if I had my keys in my hand I had remembered to lock the house.

Also, I keep my wallet on the table in front of me at restaurants until I have put my credit card back into it thus reducing to nearly zero the number of times I have go to back and retrieve an Amex card left in the faux leather presentation case that also contained the bill.

I still type quickly and accurately – there must be something in the human finger anatomy and/or nervous system that allows people to type or play the piano well into their 70s and 80s – but my other physical capabilities have clearly declined.

For example, when I bend down to pick up the morning paper, I do it like an old man. I get that. What bothers me is I can’t remember how I did it when I was a young man.

I suppose I could stand on my front steps and wait to see how my younger neighbors pick up their papers, but the word “creepy” looms large.

Editor’s Note: Rich Galen is former communications director for House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Senator Dan Quayle. In 2003-2004, he did a six-month tour of duty in Iraq at the request of the White House engaging in public affairs with the Department of Defense. He also served as executive director of GOPAC and served in the private sector with Electronic Data Systems. Rich is a frequent lecturer and appears often as a political expert on ABC, CNN, Fox and other news outlets.