Happy Hannukah 2008

This Week in Elder News – 21 December 2008

In this regular weekend feature you will find links to news items from the preceding week related to elders and aging, along with whatever else catches my fancy that I think you might like to know. Suggestions are welcome with, however, no promises of publication.

We’ve showcased the Young at Heart Choir here before. Let’s start off the Elder News this week with their rendition of James Brown’s I Feel Good. [2:20 minutes]

In her professional capacity, elderblogger Cynthia Samuels of Don’t Gel Too Soon alerted me to a new book by Maggie Scarf about long-term marriages. Nicely titled September Songs, the in-depth interviews with couples whose marriages survived into later years reveal that it gets better with time.

Sad news last week when it was revealed by his daughter that that 81-year-old actor Peter Falk has Alzheimer’s Disease and is no longer competent. Of course, we all remember him as Columbo, but I prefer his movies, especially those he made with his friend John Cassavetes, Husbands and A Woman Under the Influence in which he starred with Gena Rowlands. More here.

There is a new, ongoing project to create free computer software that the disabled can easily use. I think it will also be good for many elders who can use a similar kind of help. More here.

The elder population of Japan is growing faster than in many other countries leaving the rag trade there with diminishing revenue. To help boost clothing sales, a new fashion magazine is aimed at men age 50 and older. You’ll need to read this story to find out why is called OilyBoy.

Reminder: There are only 10 more days to sign up for a new Medicare Part D prescription drug provider. The enrollment period ends on 31 December. You can find information and compare coverage at the Medicare Part D website.

We’ve discussed money saving tips to get us through our new hard times in the past. Marion Vermazen of Marion’s Blog has posted some more. I especially like the idea of listing expenses in two columns labeled Essential and Discretionary to get a handle on where the money goes.

Many rich people have, apparently, lost everything they have in the failed Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme. Sex writer Alexandra Penney tells how she will need to sell her Florida cottage, fire the maid and learn to iron the 40 white shirts she owns. She took her first subway ride a week or so ago. I feel bad for the maid. More here in what Ms. Penney titles The Bag Lady Papers. (Hat tip to Marion Dent of And the Beat Goes On)

To put a button on the topic of wealthy paupers, with thanks to Chancy of driftwoodinspiration, here's a funny video to go with Ms. Penney's lament. [1:33 minutes]


Religious Belief Astounds Me... even moreso as I get older.

Tonite is the first night of Chanukah and here in our half-Jewish descent, half-Christian descent and all-Atheist household we are getting ready to have a daughter and grandsons over for first night dinner. It's interesting how we align ourselves with the holidays in order to maintain gift-giving and food celebration traditions.

It started me thinking about belief in general and, watching CBS News Sunday Morning as they did a piece on Angels, I heard that 65% of Americans believe that angels exist as messengers from heaven. Many believe they have spoken with angels. And, of course, they substantiate the basic belief in Heaven (and Hell) that an ABC poll of a couple of years ago said 85% of Americans share.

Searching the web for background on the belief in Heaven, I found a list at ReligiousTolerance.org that pulled some quotes from a variety of sources:

•"If you are a [born-again] Christian, you will go to heaven; If you're following another religion, then by default you will go to Hell." Radio program "Life on the Edge," sponsored by Focus on the Family, and directed to teens, 2001-MAY-5.

•"If YOU believe in Evolution instead of Jesus, you'll end up in hell." Chick Publications' gospel tract "Apes, lies and Ms. Henn." (Emphasis in the original)

•"For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten." Ecclesiastes 9:5 (KJV)

•"...we are asked to believe that God endlessly tortures sinners by the million, sinners who perish because the Father has decided not to elect them to salvation [while they were alive on earth], though he could have done so, and whose torments are supposed to gladden the hearts of believers in heaven. The problems with this doctrine are both extensive and profound." C.H. Pinnock

•"That the saints may enjoy their beatitude and the grace of God more abundantly, they are permitted to see the punishment of the damned in hell." Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274 CE), Summa Theologica

There are more quotes on the list, but you get the drift.

In a 2004 Gallop poll we learn that 81% of Americans believe in heaven and 70% believe in hell. A previous Poll said 77% of Americans felt they would make it to heaven - very few saw themselves as going to hell.

The belief in life after death, Heaven and Hell, is common to more than Christianity (and, of course, Judaism, where Heaven is a place where souls live before coming down to earth, and the place they go back to after finishing their mission in this world) - Muslims have a similar belief. According to the World Assembly of Muslim Youth:

The question of whether there is life after death does not fall under the jurisdiction of science, as science is concerned only with classification and analysis of sense data. Moreover, man has been busy with scientific inquiries and research, in the modern sense of the term, only for the last few centuries, while he has been familiar with the concept of life after death since time immemorial.
All the Prophets of God called their people to worship God and to believe in life after death. They laid so much emphasis on the belief in life after death that even a slight doubt in it meant denying God and made all other beliefs meaningless.

The very fact that all the Prophets of God have dealt with this metaphysical question of life after death so confidently and so uniformly - the gap between their ages in some cases, being thousands of years - goes to prove that the source of their knowledge of life after death as proclaimed by them all, was the same, i.e. Divine revelation.

So here I am on Sunday morning on the eve of a religious holiday, pondering how beliefs like Heaven, Hell, the existence of Angels and the acceptance of these beliefs by Americans in the 21st century can even exist and I am astounded. The many centuries of varied but god-based beliefs are not shaken off... not by logic, or science, or the advancement of knowledge of the real world. That people NEED these beliefs in order to function in the world is what I find most amazing. And I also wonder how many centuries will go by until they can be shaken off and replaced with reality.

Happy Winter Solstice... enjoy the longest night of the year.

Under The LobsterScope

I've read several of Scarf's books as some of her topics were pertinent for me when I was in my late forties, early fifties, as were many other authors I read voraciously then. Glad she's written on this topic, too, about which I would be more interested if my husband was still living.

I was intrigued with Judith Viorst's review in which she expressed surprise that more unhappy couples weren't included, but then explained one or both might be reluctant to speak out.

I've come in contact for years with an unusually large number of older couples by virtue of my work. They often confide personal matters because of the somewhat intimate nature of our interaction. Most couples do seem to be happy even despite the severe health issues with which one of the spouses is coping in recovering from medical problems. I have been surprised, too, that there have been as many unhappily coupled twosomes as I've encountered, but they often express those feelings and attitudes much more subtly, probably with some guilt. Those who took the vow "through sickness and in health" are often challenged when the medical problem results in a spouse's behavioral and personality changes. Financial and/or emotional dependence by either spouse colors the attitude of many (usually a woman if it's financial.) I'm inclined to think Viorst's observation is accurate that maybe many of these couples are reluctant to participate and be quoted in Scharf's study.

Generally speaking, I do agree that being fortunate enough to share many coupled years together does lend itself to establishing a deeper relationship, allows time for reflection and insight, and can strengthen the tie. Certainly that was true for me (wed almost 43 yrs.) We still needed more years since we had much more to talk about.

Enjoyed your reflection, "I feel bad for the maid." A bit snarky yet so to the point.

Actually, I am quite astonished about the snarky comment. The attitudes towards those that worked hard, saved their money and enjoyed their EARNED success by those that were not as far sighted as she was is disheartening. What is that emotion anyway? Jealosy? Contempt? Please take my link off of your link list...I really don't want to be associated with this blog anymore or what you are espousing.

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