Aging lessons: The things that let you thrive in old age are easier than you think

In good weather, Sylvia Lask logs thousands of steps a day on her Fitbit as she pushes down New York City sidewalks with her walker. As frequently as once a week, she heads to Albany, walker and all, to lobby state government officials about mental-health issues.

Florence Lee drives in to Manhattan on her own from Queens on Thursday nights during the New York Philharmonic’s season for performances of the vaunted orchestra. Larry White still travels around New York State, as he has for the past 10 years, to help prison inmates manage long sentences.

What makes Lask, Lee and White particularly notable is that all of them have found a way to forge active lives past 81, the average life expectancy for someone living in New York City. And because of that, they are featured in a series of narratives, photos and videos showing “that older people have goals, they have lives that are dynamic,” says Dorian Block, director of the Exceeding Expectations project at the Robert N. Butler Columbia Aging Center at Columbia University. “You can be the person you’ve always been.”

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