When was the last time you thought you couldn’t do something because of your age? Elite gymnasts “retire” at age 22, football players tap out around 40, and we retire from working lives in our 60s or 70s. But what comes next? What do we do after that if we’re told we’re too late, too old to start something new? Here’s the thing: society is wrong, and you’re never too old.

Masako Wakamiya, a native of Kanagawa, Japan, saw a need in her community. There were no good mobile apps for people her age. So at 81, she looked around and said in no uncertain terms, “screw it, I’ll do it myself!” Her story teaches us all that we’re never, not ever, too old to try something new.

Image: A senior couple standing in a field of yellow flowers, smiling at the camera.

Source: Unsplash

We often think of coding as complicated and intimidating – at least I know I do. But Masako had a different view – she thought it could be fun. Coding can take anywhere from a few months to multiple years to learn, depending on how complicated your end goals are, the type of work you want to do, and how long you spend at it every week. 1

Masako never used a computer until she was 58 years old. Having no experience with technology, she originally asked some younger app developers to make something for her. But when they voiced that they didn’t know what seniors wanted in an app, she took matters into her own hands. That day, her game Hindan was born.

Masako made it her mission to help senior citizens get engaged with technology so they can stay connected and lead more fulfilling lives, preventing the isolation that often comes with aging.

Running classes, workshops, and lectures, she works to help people her age learn about the technology that’s so widespread today.

Without further ado, here’s Masako and Hinadan in an awesome feature by Great Big Story, here to prove that you’re never too old to do anything.

Great Big Story’s library on YouTube is full of incredible stories just like Masako’s. Check them out to meet amazing people doing improbable things, and have your mind opened and faith in humanity restored.

You’re never too old!

Have you seen that SNL skit where Leslie Jones tells us that at 30, Harrison Ford was a carpenter, Vera Wang didn’t design her first dress until she was 40, and at 23, Oprah wasn’t “Oprah” yet, she was getting fired from her job?

That’s just a taste of the proof that it’s never too late to start.

I will never run out of examples of people doing incredible things as they age. There’s Yvonne Dowlen, the 90-year old figure skater who reminds us that there’s no such thing as a retirement age in sports we love. There’s Hal Lasko, a 97-year old artist painting pixel-by-pixel and proving that even when our senses start to fade, we can still find a way. Or there’s Miss Kittie, the 70-year old BMX Racer who started at age 40 with no plans of ever stopping. And there’s Richmond Shepard, the 87-year old mime helping us speak volumes.

I could go on and on, listing phenomenal people who haven’t let age stop them for a single moment, like the seniors splashing around on synchronized swimming teams, learning karate, and saving birds.

Long story short – you’re not too old to start running, getting creative, or trying that new thing you’ve always wanted to have a go at. And you’re not too old to learn how to use a new computer, pick up a sport you’ve never tried before, or experience something different.

Masako—and all these other incredible people—are living proof.

If Masako piqued your interest and you want to learn how to code, Codeacademy is a great place to start.

Hopefully you’re already convinced that you can do anything no matter your age. But if you’re in need of more proof that there’s no age cap on learning anything new, check out some of my favorites about aging with grace and curiosity: featuring the 90-year old figure skater, the solar grandmas of Kenya, and the world’s oldest dance troupe, hip-operation.

12 minutes

Why Grandmas Are Training to Be the Best Solar Engineers

Grandmas around the world are learning a new skill! These “solar mamas” are learning to become solar engineers and bringing light back to their communities that once spent their nights in darkness.

Read More

11 minutes

Skating Your Way Through Life

Let's let the magnificent, 90 year old figure skater, Yvonne Dowlen, skate into our hearts and leave us with wisdom about balance, joy and the unfolding of life.

Read More

26 minutes

The World’s Oldest Dance Troupe Will Steal Your Heart! 

The oldest hip hop dance troupe in the world has a few things to show us about what happens when we let ourselves live without limits. Artificial hips, memory loss, and all, we can feel like life every day is a great celebration!

Read More

So what would you like to still be doing when you’re 85? Or even better: what would you like to start doing right now?

Ellen

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Notes:

  1. Codecademy Team. “How Long Does It Take to Learn to Code?” Codecademy News, 9 Nov. 2020, www.codecademy.com/resources/blog/how-long-does-it-take-to-learn-to-code/. Accessed 12 Aug. 2021.
  2. Great Big Story. “After Learning to Code at 81, She Made a Game for Fellow Seniors.” YouTube, 14 Sept. 2020, www.youtube.com/watch?v=UFYJ2DE9wlM.

Ellen Allerton

Sponsorship Coordinator

After graduating from St. Lawrence University in 2020 and returning home to Vermont, Ellen found that helping make the world a better place with the EWC team was just where she wanted to be. You can usually find her watching television while getting crafty, on the ice as a figure skating coach for 10-14 year old's, or in her inflatable kayak named Heidi. She’s quite the film nerd and quite the cook, and likes it best when those two things—movies and food—coincide.