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The Enemies of Aging

category_bug_ageism.gif Just in case anyone thinks Time Goes By might have made any inroads against ageism in its 20 months of existence, take a look at these:

“Once consumed with bell bottoms, paisley shirts and page boy haircuts, many boomers now find themselves preoccupied with bifocals, cholesterol counts and fallen arches…

“[Baby Boomer/Senior Expo] will provide information on senior health care, leisure time activities, retirement communities, financial planning, legal representation, home improvement…”

- North County News, 17 October 2005
“So we’re getting older, no big whoop. Old is another story. Old has stories of cheap gas and walking to a school on a hill. Old smells of mothballs and gives stupid reindeer sweaters for Christmas…

“I just never want to be old. The only thing after old is navigating a huge Oldsmobile, washing down a Centrum Silver with the morning can of Ensure, and a subscription to Reader’s Digest. None of the above things can be considered good…”

- The Vanguard, 17 October 2005

So, the picture painted of old people is that we are sick, lazy, litigious and boring, and these are not isolated attitudes; they are commonly held beliefs repeated in the media hundreds of times every day.

The first excerpt above is from a press release masquerading as a news story about an upcoming Boomer/Senior Expo in Baltimore. The second is from an Alabama college newspaper, so the writer is probably about 20. What is discouraging about both is that neither writer, nor the organizers of the Expo, suspects their ageism.

Both excerpts are representative of the Medicalization of Elderhood brought on by the Doctrine of Youth’s Perfection which states that everyone over 50, if they do not have the grace to die, becomes obsessed with health and related personal pursuits to the exclusion of all else.

It was a plan from the inception of Time Goes By to build of page of links to the best websites about aging and/or catering to people older than 50. It has never materialized because aside from such nuts-and-bolts information sites as Social Security and Medicare, there are none that go beyond health, retirement communities, leisure activities, financial planning, legal assistance and home improvement – the list in the “press release” above which, in the narrowness of its topics, is ageist to its core.

There is nothing wrong with these topics except that they are ALL that is offered to older people as though after age 50 or so, we lose interest in anything but the cost of pills - an attitude that reinforces the pervasive bias against old people and passes it on to the next generation, like the kid from the Alabama college.

The organizers of the Boomer/Senior Expo and the people behind the abundance of social service organizations for old people, with their meager range of offerings, haven't caught up with 21st century aging. They mean well, but with friends like these...

Comments

I recommend to you the book Invisible No More (www.invisiblenomore.com). I recently heard the three authors (women aged 58 to 64) discuss the book at a nearby Borders. They self-published but now, due to good word of mouth, a publisher has expressed interest. Definitely includes more than the usual subjects.

I feel sorry for the Vanguard columnist. How sad to fear and loathe a natural part of life...

Perhaps it is because those areas are specific to older people and not everyone regardless of age? Or maybe because our society focuses on aging as a problem, and not an opportunity. I was talking with my shrink the other day about how I wasn't doing anything in particular, just kind of exploring a lot of options right now, and he made the point that this was the first time in my life I've had the time, money, and opportunity to be able to do that. Aging can be a very good thing indeed if it allows us those things!

Of course, he also wanted to keep working as long as possible because he couldn't imagine what else he would do and wasn't interested in "hobbies". Ah, I do feel sorry for the guy sometimes... ;^)

I keep wondering. Where have all the 60's revolutionaries (non-violent) gone? We need to do a lot more peaceful pushing.

Much to the chagrin of some, we're not dead. No, we're running, working, rafting, writing, fixing, consoling, nurturing, mentoring and dancing like chickens on crack,even.

Wow! We dance?

There should be room for every generation.

At 50, should we slap our hands together in a "case closed" manner and disappear on an ice floe?

No no no nooooo, don't funk with my heart.

Rebuttal to the "Alabama college newspaper"
----------------------------------
So we are college students, many of us consumed with hooking up and staying sober long enough to make it to an 8 AM class. Those of us who are the lucky ones are spoiled rotten and given cars when we are 16 and sent off to the mall with our own credit cards. Others of us have student loans up the gazoo and try not to think about the day of reckoning when we graduate into the real world and begin "WORK". We are still consumed with acne, our hairstyles,avoiding sexually transmitted disease, finding true love or at least a good "starter marriage" WE will NEVER grow old and tired like our parents and grandparents. WE will always be young and healthy and carefree. The older generation just did not try hard enough or take enough chances or enjoy themselves. Something like sacrificing and catering to the kids always got in the way. WE won't make that mistake.

When (usually younger) people tell me I don't look 54, I say "But wait -this is what 54 looks like now!" I don't consider it Baby Boomer navel-gazing and preoccupation with looks (which is what we're always accused of). We just know how to live healthier (mentally and physically) now than generations in the past. What are we supposed to do with that information - ignore it (because we're oh, so old), or put it into practice? I'm all for practicing, baby!

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