After we’ve raised families, or retired, or completed “middle age,” and moved on, we sometimes feel sad and depressed or empty and lost. An important aspect of aging is that, as we age, we still need to “matter.” Mattering to someone isn’t the same as being needed because we’re better than the bank (no interest loan that never gets paid back) or are convenient baby sitters. Mattering means we count, we’re wanted at the family gathering because we’re interesting and enjoyable, not that we’re “parked” at the family gathering because, oh well, what else are they going to do with us? Mattering means seeing someone’s face light up at the sight of us or hearing the phone ring because someone wants to talk to us or someone wants to come and visit or someone wants us to come and visit. Becoming irrelevant in our lifetimes is a sad state of affairs and doesn’t happen in many other cultures. In other cultures Mom and Dad live with the family as they age. Sometimes two or three generations all live under the same roof or in very close proximity to each other. Mom and Dad matter, they are wanted and appreciated, not tolerated and cared for because, well no one wants to feel guilty after we croak. If you don’t feel like you matter, that you have become irrelevant, try to think of something you can do, even if it’s learning how to use the internet to join an online group that shares a common interest with you. If you can drive or get out by taking the bus or have some other means of transportation, think about whether or not there is anything you can try (trying means you don’t have to keep doing it if it isn’t interesting to you after all), like volunteering somewhere or taking a class in painting, photography, pottery, or becoming the oldest person on the planet to get a college degree or any number of other activities that are available to those of us who want to continue living meaningful lives. Please learn to ask for help. If you don’t ask, no one can read your mind. Wanting to learn how to use the internet and not asking anyone to teach you isn’t going to get you internet lessons or wanting to volunteer at the hospital but not having a ride and not asking for one will keep you from what could be an interesting and new experience. You might be able to help someone in need or enjoy someone who shares a common interest with you, or make new friends at the pottery center or the senior center. Don’t be afraid to ask. “No,” only stings for a minute, then it’s over and you can move right along, continuing to seek a way to stay relevant in a culture that adores the young and beautiful and tolerates the elderly as if we have been reduced to two collective brain cells and no synapse. Unlike the family dog, we can’t be put down when we become more trouble than others think we’re worth. Fortunately, there are many of us, and we’re as diverse and interesting as we ever were. We might need to do some serious thinking about how to create new life situations where we count for something and someone cares about whether or not we show up. However, if you’ve lived long enough to become a senior, you’ve already done plenty of serious thinking and you can do it again. Only this time you can do it gloriously, wonderfully, deliciously, all for yourself instead of taking care of others. If you don’ think you matter, don’t take yourself seriously enough to figure out how to stay relevant in a world that turned away when you got your millionth wrinkle, couldn’t remember what you said or to whom if it was longer than two days ago, or acquired your second double chin, or had to learn to live on a fixed income, no one else will either.