How problematic is the Atlantic cover story about old age? Let me count the ways.

The cover story of the October 2014 Atlantic magazine, “The New Science of Old Age,” features a white-bearded skateboarder careening between two articles that encapsulate American ambivalence about longevity: here’s why our kids could significantly outlive us and how awful that would be. Below, my Letter to the Editor calling out the unacknowledged ageism that saturates both articles, followed by more examples.  

 

life as "walking to meet ourselves"

I'm on vacation—travelled through the Baltic capitals of Vilnius, Riga andTalinn, now in Helsinki, and on to St. Petersburg—and came across a flyer for a performance piece called Memories for Life about "the past and the present, the old and the young." It quotes Imants Ziedonis (1933-2013) , a Latvian poet who rose to fame during the Soviet occupation of Latvia, who wrote, "We do not walk towards death. We do not walk towards getting old. We walk to meet ourselves. We walk to meet our Other Me.

nice blurb from Lifetime Arts

Lifetime Arts is a nonprofit that "promotes creative aging through professionally conducted arts education for older adults." The organization understands that raising awareness of ageism is central to their mission, and I've given my talk at several of their training institutes. Last week I took the train up to Chappaqua to speak to librarians from seven states, who are participating in a national Creative Aging in America's Libraries project, and co-founders Maura O’Malley and Ed Friedman had nice things to say.

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