I am always on the lookout for good, new elderblogs (new to me, anyway), but every two or three months, I spend a few days checking websites to see what’s new and useful or interesting for elders.
It is necessary to search for “seniors,” “baby boomers” and “matures” because “elders” is hardly ever used as a description for old people, although it is encouraging to discover that the State of Massachusetts calls its department on aging The Executive Office of Elder Affairs.
Mostly, all this surfing is a discouraging effort. A large number of the top search results are sites containing nothing more than links to government, non-profit and agency sites that deal with the nuts-and-bolts or negative aspects of aging: health, caregiving, Social Security, health, Medicare, elderlaw, health, elder abuse, Alzheimer’s, telephone scams, health, investments, health…
Linking to websites ranging from helpful to useless with the same generic, gray-haired couple serenely smiling above what turns out, in more than half the cases, to be another list of links (often broken) interspersed with GoogleAds.
I do not mean to imply that these issues are not important when you need them. Of course, then they are vital and the legitimate websites are essential. But there are millions of them on the web, mostly repetitive, and what I look for in vain is the real, everyday, personal, experience of getting old.
If anyone depended on websites created for and about elders to find out what it’s really like to get old, the only conclusion to be had is that it is fraught with decline, debility and disease, interspersed with financial travails. No wonder everyone is afraid of getting old.
But the real story is that aging is as rich and compelling as every other time in life. What all those websites don’t see is that our interests are as wide and varied as they have been all our lives. If an elder was an expert on nuclear energy or butterflies at 40, he or she still is and more so at 70 and 80. And many (most?) of us take up new interests when the kids are grown and careers are done.
Among elders, we are interested in everything Wikipedia has got in its millions of pages. We learn new languages, new skills and take up new passions. We discover depths of understanding that were not possible without the decades of experience we have amassed. And when the normal – and not so normal – extremities of aging occur, we are remarkably adaptive.
You can’t find any of that on “senior” websites, so this is the last time I will look for any that might be of interest to elders. Aside from those with the hard information we need now and then, they aren’t any better than when I first searched for them five years ago.
Then, I subtitled this blog “what it’s really like to get old” because there was nothing anywhere that explained it. I didn’t have answers yet, but I knew getting old was a whole lot different - and better - than what was being written and said.
Now, in the years since, the people who visit this blog and contribute as commenters and as storytellers at The Elder Storytelling Place, and as guest bloggers when I’m away have all helped pull back the curtain on the mystery of aging here and on their own blogs, along with the thousands I have not discovered.
The only places where the real story of what it’s like to get old is being told are elderblogs. Most of them are not about aging itself - they are about as many different things as blogs by people of any other age. But in telling readers of the joys, sadness, memories, activities, ailments, thoughts, ideas and passions they live every day, elders are creating a rich and growing compendium of old age.
Elderblogs are an unrecognized goldmine on aging that exists nowhere else.
[At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Chuck Nyren explains how he found himself in a Country Quandery.]