By Steve Moran

In a recent email, Chip Conley, the ultimate modern elder, asked this question:

At What Age Do We Peak?

It is a really good question with a complicated answer because it depends on what we are talking about. Just for fun, some are some examples:

  • There are some sounds that can only be heard by teenagers. 
  • You peak at learning a new language at around age 7.
  • You peak at math skills at around 50.
  • You peak at muscle strength at around age 25.
  • The ability to remember unfamiliar names at around 22.
  • You peak at chess-playing at around 31.
  • Life satisfaction peaks at around 69. 
  • Psychological wellbeing peaks at around age 82. 


What Is True and What We Assume

Senior living exists mostly, maybe even exclusively, to meet the needs of older people who have increasing needs because of declining physical abilities,  and often declining cognitive abilities. But the question we need to wrestle with is this:

Have residents peaked in everything, except maybe life satisfaction, by the time they move into senior living?

Or maybe two better questions:

If we assume they have peaked in every way, how does that impact how we interact with them?

What would happen if we assumed they still had peaks ahead of them?

Worth Thinking About

When we think about kids, teens, and even young adults we always believe they have not peaked in any way. And we seem hardwired as human beings to want to help them reach their peaks, their highest potential that we are 100% certain is still ahead of them (even if that is not true). But that assumption impacts how we interact with them.

At Senior Living Foresight, we recently said goodbye to an amazing intern Emma Meads. In saying goodbye, we are all, each and every one of us, standing ready to help her further her career path. And are anticipating great world-changing things to happen because of her passion for older people and senior living.

Each Saturday as I teach a group of twenty or so 5th and 6th graders. I see a mass of potential that I can help grow and mature. 

Now I Am Thinking . . .

We don’t ever see senior living residents from the same perspective. We see them as having peaked, as being on a downhill slide, a downward spiral. And honestly, there is some truth to this. But what if our bigger view of our residents, our meta-view of our residents, was they still had the potential to peak in more ways than just life satisfaction?

What if it were our job to uncover potential to still do wonderful amazing things?

Right now, today, I look at Jack Cumming who is in his 80s and a senior living resident. And he is doing some of the most impactful, world-changing work that he has ever done. We at Senior Living Foresight and you, our readers and leaders in senior living, are benefiting from that work. Your residents and your team members are benefiting from that work.