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aging

Identity

13 side-by-side portraits of people over 100 with their younger selves

These powerful before-and-after photos reveal just how beautiful aging can be.

Jan Langer's incredible photos are timeless.

Czech photographer Jan Langer's portrait series "Faces of Century" shows them in a different light: as human beings aged by years of experience, but at their deepest level, unchanged by the passing of time.

In the series, Langer juxtaposes his portraits with another portrait of the subject from decades earlier. He recreates the original pose and lighting as closely as he can — he wants us to see them not just as they are now, but how they have and haven't changed over time. That is the key to the series.

These are the rare faces of people who have lived through two world wars, a cavalcade of regimes, and the rush of advancements in modern life. These photos, and the stories of the lives lived by the people in them, show not only the beauty of aging, but how even as we age, we still remain essentially ourselves.



1. Prokop Vejdělek, at age 22 and 101

All photos by Jan Langer.

Vejdělek is a former metallurgical engineer who will never forget the taste of warm fresh goat's milk.

2. Bedřiška Köhlerová, at age 26 and 103

Originally born in Merano, Italy, Köhlerová wishes to visit Italy one more time.

3. Ludvík Chybík, at age 20 and 102

Chybík is a former postal carrier and says he will never forget the route he worked every day.

4. Vincenc Jetelina, at age 30 and 105

Jetelina spent eight years in prison after World War II. Now, he just wants to live the rest of his life in peace.

5. Marie Fejfarová, at age 101

Fejfarová burned all her material memories, including old photographs, when she decided to move to a long-term care facility. She lived a dramatic life, hiding from the Nazis and then the Russians, but eventually she was able to travel the world with her husband. Her experiences show there's no such thing as too late in life to start a new chapter.

6. Antonín Kovář, at age 25 and 102

Kovář is a former musician whose daughter comes to visit him every day. He wishes to play the clarinet once more.

7. Anna Vašinová, at age 22 and 102

Vašinová will always remember the day her husband was taken away by the Nazis. She wishes to be reunited with him after death.

8. Stanislav Spáčil, at age 17 and 102

Spáčil was an electrical engineer throughout his life and thinks that it's too early in his life to think about the past.

9. Anna Pochobradská, at age 30 and 100

Pochobradská was a farmer. She now lives a quiet life and is thankful that her daughter visits her every weekend.

10. Antonín Baldrman, at age 17 and 101

Baldrman was a clerk early in life and keeps up with current events by reading the newspaper.

11. Marie Burešová, at age 23 and 101

Burešová loves talking to her family and wishes to have them all together again.

12. Vlasta Čížková, at age 23 and 101

Čížková cooked in the dining room at the airport in the small village of Vodochody. She'll never forget reciting her own poetry at wedding ceremonies.

13. Ludmila Vysloužilová, at age 23 and 101

Vysloužilová stays active every day by chopping wood, shoveling snow, and doing work around her house.

The photographer Langer was initially inspired to document the lives of elderly people because of what he saw as the media's lack of coverage of them. He decided to focus on people over the age of 100 — a very rare demographic indeed. The 2010 U.S. Census reported only 53,364 centenarians, which is only 0.19% of the population of people 70 years or older.

“One should live every single moment according to their best knowledge and conscience because one day we will see clearly what has a real value," Langer says of what he learned from his subjects while photographing them.

The series was originally part of a story that Langer did for the Czech news outlet aktuálně.cz. You can see more photos from the portrait sessions by following the link.


This article originally appeared on 12.08.17.



Identity

Man asks older folks for their biggest regrets and advice to their younger selves

This wisdom could save a lot of younger folks from chasing the wrong things.

Photo by Ravi Patel on Unsplash

With age, comes wisdom (usually).

Have you ever sat and talked with an older person about their life and what they've learned in their decades of living? Talking with older people can give us a lot of wisdom and perspective that we otherwise couldn't get, which is why TikTok creator Yair Brachiyahu interviews people who are in their later years and asks them specific questions about their life experience.

Some of those questions include "What do you regret most in your life?" "What did you think was important when you were younger that you've realized isn't as important as you thought?" and "What advice would you give your younger self if you could go back in time?"


These are good questions to ponder at any age, but older folks' responses have a bit more weight to them. There's a certain amount of wisdom that comes with experience and having lived through various stages of life. And when you put lots of those responses together, certain themes emerge that might be valuable for younger people to take to heart.

Here's an interview Yair did with a 95-year-old woman that was particularly inspiring:

@yairbrachiyahu

95 Year Old Shares Her Biggest Regret #lifelessons #lifeadvice #interview #longervideos

Staying positive and upbeat is a common theme among centenarians who are asked how they've lived so long, so she may be onto something.

This 79-year-old's response was similar, and she also hit on the most common thing people say they thought was important when they were young but realized isn't actually.

@yairbrachiyahu

79 Year Old Shares Her Biggest Loss… #lifelessons #interview #lifeadvice #longervideos

So many older people say that they thought money and material possessions were important when they were young but have realized in their later years that as long as you have enough money to live, having more money and more things doesn't make you any happier.

@yairbrachiyahu

46 Years Married Couple Share What’s Really Important In Life… #interview #lifelessons #lifeadvice #longervideos

Of course, as some have pointed out, it's a lot easier to learn the lesson that money isn't important once you've had more than enough money. And if you don't have enough money to live comfortably, even if modestly, hearing that money isn't important can feel a bit off-putting.

But that doesn't change the fact that material wealth isn't the holy grail many people think it is. It's entirely possible to be rich and unhappy and entirely possible to be happy without a lot of money.

Listen to what this 78-year-old would go back and tell his younger self:

@yairbrachiyahu

78 Year Old Shares What’s REALLY Important In Life #interview #lifelessons #lifeadvice #longervideos

Over and over, the same lessons are shared by people who have been around the block a few times. Money isn't as important as you think it is beyond basic living expenses. Relationships with family, friends and loved ones are where true wealth lies. Health is vital and taking care of your body matters. Stay positive and live life with gratitude and appreciation.

Yair has interviewed dozens of people, mostly between ages 60 to 100, and their answers are all uniquely fascinating. You can watch more of these conversations on his TikTok channel.

Family

Younger generations are torn over inheriting boomer heirlooms. Here are 4 helpful tips.

The generational divide on this front is a big one, but there are better and worse ways to navigate it.

There are kind and gentle ways to handle hand-me-downs.


As the baby boomer generation reaches their "golden years," many of them are starting to think about what to do with their earthly possessions, much to the chagrin of some of their Gen X, millennial and Gen Z descendants.

How many of us really want to take over our grandma's collection of dolls or plates when we have no interest in collecting ourselves? How many people have homes filled with furniture we actually like, only to be offered antiques and heirlooms that we have neither the desire nor room for? What about china sets, artwork and other things our elders have loved that they want to see passed down in the family that no one in the family really wants?


It's a delicate road to navigate, as a post on X illustrated. Jodi-Ann Quarrie shared a screenshot of a story a man shared about his wife fighting with his mother-in-law about the china sets she wanted her children to have. She had four adult children and four sets of china for them to divvy amongst themselves, but all four kids refused. An argument ensued about how none of the china had ever been used, even on special occasions, and culminated in the wife telling the mother-in-law that she was going to use the plates as frisbees after she dies.

People's reactions to the story were mixed. Some pointed out that there's no reason for someone to say something so cruel to a family member (or anyone, for that matter). Others felt that the mother-in-law was being unreasonable by not accepting no for an answer.

Extreme as the story may have been, there is a clear generational divide between the post-Depression era folks who think passing down heirlooms is generous and the generations that are accustomed to replacing things every few years because of planned obsolescence. There is also a divide between people who attach their life story to their belongings to the point that if their things aren't valued then neither are they, and people who don't tie memories or sentimentality to material things at all.

How do we bridge these divides? Each family dynamic and situation is different, of course, but here are four principles to keep in mind if you're on the receiving end of an heirloom offer you don't really want.

1) Don't diminish the value—either monetary or sentimental—of what an elder is offering.

These things may mean nothing to you, but they obviously mean something to the person who wants you to have. There's no need to hurt their feelings by being brazen about how their outdated furniture isn't really worth anything anymore or to point out that you have no emotional attachment to it. That all might be true, but is it necessary to share that with someone who is nearing the end of their life and feeling sentimental? No. It doesn't meant you have to take it, either, but a little empathy, even if it's not how you would feel about your own belongings, goes a long way.

2) If they're trying to give you something now and you really don't want it or have room for it, offer alternatives.

It's perfectly reasonable to tell a loved one that on a practical level you simply don't have the space for something. What the person usually wants is to know that a piece of them is going to be carried on as a physical memory and proof of their existence, so offer them a way to do that in a way that works for you.

Try something like this: "I would love to have something of yours that is meaningful that we can pass down, but we already have all the furniture we are able to manage—is there something like a piece of jewelry or a photo album or something else that we could pick out together as an heirloom for our side of the family?"

3) Be kind about their wishes while they're still here.

It's not easy getting older, and people's feelings about their life and death are worthy of consideration and compassion. If it brings an older person joy to see belongings they value being passed down while they're still alive, it might be worth letting them have that joy. Again, they might just want to know that their memory is going to live on.

It's difficult for us to imagine what it's like to be old when we're young, but it's not too hard to understand the desire to be remembered. That desire manifests differently for different people. Kindness can look like taking the items with gratitude and waiting until they pass away to give them away. It can also be gently refusing them for now, telling them it makes you happy to see them enjoying their things, and reassuring them that you'll make sure their items are taken care of when they're no longer here. (Taking care of doesn't mean keeping, but they don't necessarily need to know that detail. Honesty must be balanced with tact and thoughtfulness here.)

4) You are not obligated to hold onto something someone gave you, especially after they are gone. (But also, stay open to the idea that you might want to.)

No one is obligated to hold onto anything they don't really want. You also don't have to tell the person that you're not planning to keep their stuff—let them be at peace about it while they're here. It's perfectly okay to let go of their material things after they're gone. It's highly unlikely that they're going to care at that point.

However, it's also wise to stay open to the idea that you might actually want some of the things a loved one gives you after they pass. We never know how grief and loss are going to impact us, regardless of our relationship with someone, and sometimes people regret getting rid of all of their family members' belongings too quickly. It might be wise to just say yes to some things for now (if you are able to) and then decide what to do with them later.

Again, every situation is different, so these principles may or may not apply perfectly to your own circumstances, but the central message is to be kind and compassionate. We all have a limited amount of time here that shouldn't be wasted fighting over material things.

It all can happen at just the right time.

Media outlets love to compile lists of impressive people under a certain age. They laud the accomplishments of fresh-faced entrepreneurs, innovators, influencers, etc., making the rest of us ooh and ahh wonder how they got so far so young.

While it's great to give credit where it's due, such early-life success lists can make folks over a certain age unnecessarily question where we went wrong in our youth—as if dreams can't come true and successes can't be had past age 30.


Weary of lists celebrating youngsters, television writer and producer Melissa Hunter sent out a tweet requesting a new kind of list for 2020. "Instead of 30 Under 3 or NextGen lists," she wrote, "please profile middle-aged people who just got their big breaks. I want to read about a mother of 2 who published her first novel, a director who released their first studio feature at 47, THAT'S THE LIST WE WANT."

The Twitterverse responded with a resounding "YAAASSS." Story after story of folks finding success in their 40s, 50s, and beyond began pouring in. If you worry that you're not far enough along in your 20s or 30s, or think it's too late for you to follow your passion in the autumn of your life, take a look at these examples of people crushing it in their mid-to-late adulthood.

Take this mother of four teens who released her first full-length book at 45 and started law school this year at age 47.

Or the woman who published two books in her late 50s and is revising book #3 at age 60. Oh, she also started running at age 45.

Another person shared how they got out of prison for drugs at age 49, stayed clean and started their own business, and broke the $1 million sales mark last year at 56.

"Lauching my clothing line now—at 48," wrote a mom of two. "Next venture feels amazing."

Another user chimed in with "Yes! Plus the 40 under 40, 30 under 30 can be quite contrived (sometimes). I want to see people juggling school, career, and family.”

Yet another mother of two teens finished her PhD at 41 and got a tenure-track position at age 47. She's also working on a book on Indigenous Early Childhood.

How about this woman who hadn't taken a math class for 40 years? She aced her statistics classes and will graduate with a perfect GPA after she turns 60. "Lots of life to live!" she says.

Another mom (are we seeing a theme here?) discovered a passion for interior design and won a national TV design challenge in her late 40s. Now, at 60, she has a successful design career and contributes to radio and magazines.

Of course, we also know there are fabulously successful folks who got a "late" start in Hollywood, including the incomparable Ava DuVernay, "who left her job at age 40 to focus on filmmaking and then became the first black woman to make over $100 million at the box office.”

As one man pointed out, "The idea that you've got five years between 20 and 30 to do everything you're ever going to do is ridiculous." Hunter agreed, writing, "The advice is always that it's a marathon, not a race, and I wanna read about the people who finished that marathon!!"

So many stories of people publishing their first books, landing their ideal jobs, or discovering a passion later in life just kept coming, and person after person shared how inspiring and motivating they were.

Of course, not everyone has lofty career goals. If these stories aren't quite hitting the mark for you, check out this woman's contribution to the conversation. She's "just a regular human," she says, but she went to Zimbabwe and volunteered at a wildlife refuge at age 47. "Life doesn't just peter out after 30," she wrote. "My friend Elsa is 96 and went on an archaeological dig at 75. I want to be like her."

Don't we all.

Age really is just a number, and there's nothing magical about "making it" in your younger years. Let's be sure to celebrate people living their best lives and making dreams come true at any and every age.


This article originally appeared on 01.10.20