What do you want to be when you grow old?

Do you remember back in the day with vague glimpses of memory when your teachers would ask you, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Naturally, it would be normal to think about all kinds of professions swimming in your mind.

How different would it be, however, if we ask the question, “What do you want to be when you grow old?”


It may be quite hard to imagine an answer like, “I want to be a monster truck rally daredevil,” as most might imagine themselves lounging in bed, nearly a century old, ponderously trying to recall in the noon what they had for breakfast a mere few hours ago. This is probably why our teachers never bothered to ask the question.

Unfortunately, if you wish to have it revealed how many minds pondered over this question by briefly swimming in the external consciousness of mankind, i.e. surfing the internet, you may not find much more than Adam Sandler’s “I Wanna Grow Old With You.”

How would our world view that question if our elders are given voices? What is life like for them, and is it really all that bad? Did they want to end up where they are now, or had they wished they thought of it? These types of questions with their answers could, for example, help prevent waves of mid-life crises. Perhaps when we think about questions such as these, more waves of innovative technology, paradigms and solutions may arrive to address fields concerning the elderly.

“What do you want to be when you grow old?” I want to be a wise man; healthy, and full of spirit; reading several books a week and even playing chess and tennis regularly. Lastly, I would wish to pass on whatever knowledge I have to my children so that they, one day, could do the same.

It is right to ask the question, is it not? We will all get to that destination in one way or another. I daresay that – for me – it will be fascinating to experience how it all will turn out.

So then, now it’s your turn. What do you want to be when you grow old?

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About Adrian Levitsky

Adrian is a Research Technician and Doctoral Student at Karolinska Institutet's ClinTRID department for Inflammatory (Autoimmune) Disease research. He is a blogger for the Silverevolution initiative by ACCESS Health International. He defended his Masters thesis in Global Health at Karolinska and worked together with the CAMbrella project's Swedish team (http://www.cambrella.eu/home.php) in analyzing global key stakeholders of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) and Traditional Medicine (TM). He has an avid interest in research. Particularly, he wishes to research CAM/TM and promulgate an evidence base for the potential effectiveness of integrative care -- as this communication still is lacking globally. Adrian has a background starting as a pilot at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, which later evolved to studying Human Factors Psychology with a drive to understand how man and machine work together. This field often focuses heavily on research and involves testing available theories or finding new solutions to prevent work-related injuries, reduce stress, and emphasize usability/ergonomics. Teaching English in South Korea made him realize the need for innovation and imagination for all school curricula in order to solve today’s dilemmas.

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