Who Speaks For Elders?
Aging Together: So Like Their Peers, But Different Too

The Enormous Value of Elderblogs

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.]


Comments

I have finally created the beginning of a blog.
Yesterday the thought came to mind "what will I write"
This morning after reading your site Ronni, I know.
When I look back over 70 years I have a life full of joys, sadness, memories, thoughts and passions to share.

I am so new to all of this I forgot to leave my blog address. ;)

What you said is so true. It's through others who are ahead of us and what we leave for those behind that information is passed along. Blogs can be a great tool.

I have discovered in our town there is an enthusiastic branch of the cop shop that covers elder abuse, ditto social services, and a another branch of elders that volunteer to do services like check on seniors in their homes.

Perhaps I need to review more Elder Blogs....that'll stir up my juices.

Ronni,
I am new at blogging so was unsure of the protocol regarding answering the question you left in comments under my Shiva post. I responded at my site; is that the norm or should we visit the commenter's site instead?
I've been visiting some elderblogs you list in your left column, and am so impressed that you've collected this information, and think the blogs are great.

My blog is my tool for regular writing. I'm 57 now and I'm finding that developing the blog is helping me honor my age, whether I actually addressing aging or not.

I love reading your blogs! Is there any way you could do something on medical alerts or personal alarms? I have been checking into responselink for my mother. www.responselink.com
Have you any opinion on this subject

When I was ten, my mom gave me a little booklet called "Now You Are Ten" which explained what would be happening to me in the next few years as I became "a woman." Just this tiny bit of info reassured me I was normal.

In those days I had a mother, grandmothers, and aunts who were ahead of me and I observed what happened as they went from 30 to 40 to 50 and beyond. I knew what to expect.

My mom died when I was 48. I am now surrounded by people younger than I am, and I haven't got any little booklets. I just want to know what's normal.

The women in the public eye have their wrinkles removed; there's no gray hair, slumping shoulders, or sagging breasts. The ads make it seem like mountain climbing and wind-surfing are common activities for the over 70 crowd. I wonder what's wrong with me that I don't want to do those things, and I'm not even 60 yet.

I appreciate elder blogs for their honesty, optimism and experience. I learn so much from the comments here, as well as on the blogs I've found from this site. They make me feel normal.

You are always so spot on. You wrote, "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."

Life is rich - or richer with age, assuming one has lived wisely...

Hear, hear. How I wish you could come to one of my journal groups sometime. All older women--ranging from 50 to 83. I'm the only blogger though. I feel so graced after spending time with them--most for more than 14 years.

What you've written here is precisely one of the reasons that drew me to this blog in the first place. I greatly appreciate the effort you put into writing this dynamic blog which never rests on its laurels.

I sometimes have become unduly anxious that you might digress far afield from your stated goal, but how could you, since your writing so astutely mines "...our interests..." which "...are as wide and varied as they have been all our lives."

Encouraging others to read your blog has become an ongoing casual second-nature activity for me with those who are unfamiliar with TGB. I believe there's a mutual benefit for me with the more readers/bloggers, especially those who comment here, in the sharing of ideas, thoughts, and stories.

I have yet to read any other blogosphere writing that so effectively utilizes language and consistently introduces significant topics to my life.

Hi Ronni,

I am 60, and write about memoir writing. I started out teaching at writing organizations, and then went on to senior centers. I love to be around people at any age who are striving to remember and organize their life story. But I have not yet figured out if this makes me an elderblogger or just a blogger who is an elder. Is there a difference?

Jerry Waxler
Memory Writers Network

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