A couple of days ago, Crabby Old Lady ran across the one-zillionth news story about how boomers, the oldest of whom are entering their early 60s now, expect to buck the heretofore inevitable trend of the human body to age and die by living (while remaining young, of course) forever. This one, from the Hartford Courant, is about the uptick in sales of books with instructions on how to do that.
"'...[boomers are] starting to panic as they see those unmistakable signs of aging,' says Sarah Bedell, owner of the Bookworm bookstore in West Hartford. 'They've controlled every part of their lives up to now and they want to be able to control, or even avoid, old age as well. So they're seeking out as much information as they can find to try to hold off the inevitable…'
“…Boomers are looking for a loophole. To assist the over-50 crowd on that quest, publishers are filling store shelves with new guides on healthy aging, avoiding memory loss, retirement, downsizing and other aging-related topics."
Good God, if you haven’t figured out how to live a healthy life by age 50 or 60, a book probably won’t help. The rules are few and simple:
- Eat lots of fruits, vegetables and whole grains
- Avoid too much fat, red meat and sweets
- Take some regular physical exercise – every day
- Exercise your mind too
- Get enough sleep
- Don’t smoke tobacco
- Get a physical checkup once a year
There is little more to know. Whatever you do, you will get old. Unless you don’t. The day of our individual death is up to Mother Nature (or God, if that is your belief). It’s not your call.
If any of the book authors’ extravagant promises of eternal youth really worked, there would be a lot of 200-hundred-year-olds hanging around running marathons. Crabby Old Lady hasn’t seen any, so if you have, please do let her know so she can retract this rant and buy a bunch of those books.
None of this would interest Crabby if it didn’t affect smarter old people. Why should she care if aging boomers, who admit in surveys they haven’t saved enough money for retirement, make millionaires of book-author, snake-oil salesmen?
Let Crabby tell you: because every time (thousands a day throughout the U.S.) the media, in advertising, books, magazines, newspapers, radio, television programs, blogs and websites, promote youth as the gold standard of life, aging is reinforced as a character flaw, a weakness, a deformity against which every effort must be made to correct it.
That leads to disrespect, age discrimination in the workplace and reinforces the many myths about elders as lesser beings.
Oprah Winfrey, who at 53 is old enough to know better, is among the worst offenders in promoting youth as the ideal stage of life. As she has for years, she continues to promote Dr. Michael Roizen whose “Real Age” program promises to make people “live and feel up to 26 years younger” – a claim so weird in its specificity that it leads Crabby to question anything he says.
Oprah’s newest medical darling is Dr. Roizen’s recent co-author, Dr. Mehmet C. Oz, who has shamefully allowed his advice to be promoted on Oprah’s television show website in the following manner:
- How to add years to life and turn back the clock
- Dr. Oz’s Guide to Staying Young
- Ready to commit to staying young?
- Dr. Oz says he's uncovered the fountain of youth that will add years to your life
- Fight back and stay young.
Behind the hype, Dr. Roizen’s and Dr. Oz’s advice is mostly that long-proven, standard-issue stuff listed above that any good physician will tell you. Crabby Old Lady would have no objection if it were not positioned as youth worship and the word “healthy” were substituted for “young” in those odious promotional blurbs.
That Oprah incessantly harps on youth and beauty is even more unforgivable in light of her enormous cultural clout. Imagine how elders’ lives could be changed, how age discrimination could be reduced or even eliminated, how elders would gain in respect of society if Oprah would get over her obsession with youth and accept aging as the normal and remarkable stage of life it is.
It is not good enough to let her audience in on Maya Angelou's wisdom when almost every other day she is complicit in keeping ageism alive.
Crabby Old Lady started this blog to help herself (and maybe some readers) understand what getting old is really like. That is, what’s good about it, what isn’t so good, how beliefs and attitudes might change with the years, what it feels like physically and emotionally, what is takes to live the last years as fully as the earlier years.
That’s what Crabby wants to pursue and she is deeply, achingly tired of finding no one willing to think publicly about aging in any way other than staying young forever.
[At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Rabon Saip tells the story of a man with real Machismo - not the bullying swagger of those who only wish they had it.]