As We Age, Keys to Remembering Where the Keys Are I recently told my 70s-something walking group that I wanted to write about “retrieval disorder,” our shared problem with remembering names and dates, what we had just read and where even what we had for dinner last night. Or, in my case, the subject of the column I wrote the day before. One walking buddy suggested I call it delayed retrieval disorder. “It’s not that we can’t remember,” she said. “It just takes us longer, sometimes a lot longer than it used to.” Then she wondered, “Is it really a disorder? Since it seems to happen to all of us, isn’t this just normal aging?” – The New York Times
The Liberation of Growing Old Why do we have such punitive attitudes toward old people? Granted, the ancients did hideous things to elders who were unable to work but still needed food and care, but in more recent times, that had changed: In 18th-century New England, it was common for people to make themselves seem older by adding years to their real age, rather than subtracting them. Once upon a time, “senile” just meant old, without being pejorative. Even “geriatric” was originally a value-free term, rather than part of the lexicon of contempt toward old people. – The New York Times
When Planning for Retirement, Consider Transportation During retirement planning, transportation is often an afterthought. Yet, figuring transportation into plans is essential, experts say.According to the American Journal of Public Health, Americans are outliving their ability to drive safely — a woman, on average, by 10 years, a man by seven. Overall, the ability to drive safely as one ages depends on health. Some people can drive into their 90s while others begin to cut back at 65. – The New York Times
Living on Purpose It turns out that purpose is, on many counts, a good thing to have, long associated with satisfaction and happiness, better physical functioning, even better sleep. “It’s a very robust predictor of health and wellness in old age,” said Patricia Boyle, a neuropsychologist at the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center in Chicago. She and her colleagues have been tracking two cohorts of older people living independently in greater Chicago, assessing them regularly on a variety of physical, psychological and cognitive measures. The subjects agreed to donate their brains after their deaths. – The New York Times
When Life Goes On, and On … Mainstream aging research neither promises radical immortality nor seeks to keep old people sick longer. Aging is a driving factor in the most prevalent and costly chronic diseases. Research indicates that interventions slowing aging delay the onset of these diseases. Therefore, they extend not only lifespan but also health span, the disease-free and functional period of life. – The New York Times
Artist Kokin’s Mill Valley exhibit explores memory, loss, and connection Lisa Kokin had been watching her mom decline for a long time. Even though she had years to grieve and say goodbye, it still wasn’t easy for Kokin when her mother, fragile and succumbing to dementia in an Oakland nursing home, died a few months shy of her 100th birthday in December. So the next day, Kokin started sewing. – Marin Independent Journal
For Health Aging, A Late Act in the Footlights What kind of old age will you have? Many of us look forward to spending retirement expanding our world — traveling, trying what we never had time to do, taking classes that give us new knowledge and skills. These activities are not only desirable in themselves, they help us to live longer and healthier lives. But they are not within everyone’s reach. – The New York Times
Loneliness lethal for seniors, UCSF study says Feeling lonely always hurts, but when it comes to the elderly, it may actually contribute to failing health or an early death, UCSF researchers say. In a study of 1,600 seniors, the results of which were published Tuesday in the Archives of Internal Medicine, doctors found that people who reported being lonely were more likely to suffer a decline in health or die over a six-year period than those who were content with their social lives. – SF GATE
‘My Silver Hair’ (video) When I was in college, I met a beautiful woman in her early 20s who had a full head of gray hair. At first, I pitied her for being so radiant and yet cursed with such a glaring blemish. But after talking with her for just a few seconds I realized it wasn’t her appearance that I was attracted to — gray hair or not — but her confidence and poise. Her clear self-acceptance, regardless of how others might view her, impressed me so deeply that 30 years later, I still remember the chance meeting. Today, all I remember about her was her hair color and her confidence. – The New York Times
What Old Age Is Really Like What does it feel like to be old? Not middle-aged, or late-middle-aged, but one of the members of the fastest-growing demographic: the “oldest old,” those aged eighty-five and above? This has been the question animating me for a couple of years, as I’ve tried to write a novel from the perspective of a man in his late eighties. The aging population is on our collective minds; a statistic that intrigued me is that the average life expectancy in the U.K.—and, by extension, most of the rich West—is increasing by more than five hours a day, every day. I’m in my mid-thirties but felt confident that I could imagine my way into old age. How hard could it be, really? – The New Yorker
The High Price of Loneliness Loneliness stings at any age. But in older people, it can have serious health consequences, raising the risks of an earlier-than-expected death and the loss of physical functioning, according to a study published on Monday. – The New York Times
FIlm and Television
You’re Looking at Me Like I Live Here and I Don’t (documentary) Perhaps years from now, after a scientific breakthrough has turned Alzheimer’s disease into a memory as distant as polio wards are to younger Americans today, someone will stumble upon Scott Kirschenbaum’s hard-to-watch documentary, “You’re Looking at Me Like I Live Here and I Don’t,” and be stunned. “I’ve read about Alzheimer’s,” this person will say, “but I had no idea what it was actually like.” – The New York Times Click here to watch clips from the documentary.
The Joys of Aging and How to Avoid Them by Phillis Diller Diller takes aim at the technology of youthfulness–face-lifts, peeling, waxing, coloring, slimming, firming, plumping, relocating, and eradicating–in a book crammed with zany anecdotes
I Feel Bad About My Neck and Other Thoughts about Being a Woman by Nora Ephron With her disarming, intimate, completely accessible voice, and dry sense of humor, Nora Ephron shares with us her ups and downs in I Feel Bad About My Neck, a candid, hilarious look at women who are getting older and dealing with the tribulations of maintenance, menopause, empty nests, and life itself. Ephron chronicles her life as an obsessed cook, passionate city dweller, and hapless parent. But mostly she speaks frankly and uproariously about life as a woman of a certain age. Utterly courageous, uproariously funny, and unexpectedly moving in its truth telling, I Feel Bad About My Neck is a scrumptious, irresistible treat of a book, full of truths, laugh out loud moments that will appeal to readers of all ages.
The End of Old Age: Living a Longer, More Purposeful Life by Dr. Marc E. Agronin Dr. Agronin is a geriatric psychiatrist at the Miami Jewish Home whose decades of caring for the aged have taught him that it is possible to maintain purpose and meaning in life even in the face of significant disease and disability, impaired mental and physical functioning and limited participation in activities.
Happiness Is a Choice You Make- Lessons from a Year Among the Oldest Old by John Leland An extraordinary look at what it means to grow old and a heartening guide to well-being, Happiness Is a Choice You Make weaves together the stories and wisdom of six New Yorkers who number among the “oldest old”― those eighty-five and up.
The Big Shift: Navigating the New Stage Beyond Midlife by Marc Freedman Marc Freedman, hailed by the New York Times as “the voice of aging baby boomers [seeking] meaningful and sustaining work later in life,” offers a recipe for how we can transform America’s coming midlife crisis into a midlife opportunity. Millions of people in their fifties, sixties, and seventies are searching for answers to the question “What’s next?” and are navigating their way to an entirely new stage of life and work, one that could last as long as midlife. Shifting to a much longer lifespan isn’t as easy as it may seem. Unlike the transition from adolescence to adulthood, managing this process for many is a do-it-yourself project. Drawing on powerful personal stories, The Big Shift provides not only direction but a vision of what it would take to help millions find their footing in a new map of life.
What I Know Now: Letters to My Younger Self edited by Ellyn Spragins If you could send a letter back through time to your younger self, what would the letter say? In this moving collection, forty-one famous women write letters to the women they once were, filled with advice and insights they wish they had had when they were younger.