From the get-go in nursery school, we are trained in impression management.
For example, at a Zen Center in Connecticut a psychologist, who is also a Buddhist monk, explains his consulting job at a Manhattan play group. He's there to socialize Johnny on how to get himself invited into the circle, versus just plopping himself down in it.
In high school it's all about how to present ourselves to colleges.
When the school thing is over impression management is imperative to get that first job, keep it, be promoted and exit nicely as the corporation right sizes.
Then it's all about how to develop business as the aging self-employed who few employers will hire.
Unfortunately, after we close down our shops at 70 or 80 or 85 we still have to play the impression management game. Otherwise, concerned family members, officials in senior housing, visiting nurses and police will railroad us into a nursing home. Here's a typical situation.
Let's call her Martha. She just turned 90. Aside from a few stents in her heart and the need for a walker, she's doing jolly fine. However, she has taken to calling the police about miscreants in her apartment. Given my background in professional impression management, I tell her, "Keep doing that and your grandchildren will yank you out of here and into a nursing home. I will check under the bed, in the shower and all the closets. Don't call the police. One more thing: Shut up about who might be roaming your apartment."
A touch of senility is something most of us can live with. So are lots of other things which go with the territory of aging. But we got to play it smart. A neighbor down the hall didn't and began cursing at the visiting nurse. He wanted to die in his apartment. The concerned didn't let that happen.