So Gay and So Old

 This guest post is by Sheila Roher, MPH, a veteran of the feminist and LGBT movements, who advocates a social movement approach to transform our social imagination around longevity. After studying with Dr. Robert Butler at Columbia University, she worked with “Age Friendly NYC”  at the New York Academy of Medicine where she focused on employment and educational opportunities for older adults.

Want older people to be healthy? End ageism.

There’s a lot of disagreement around how to frame the last century’s unprecedented increase in human lifespan. Is it a crisis or an opportunity? Will a “grey tsunami” of incapacitated freeloaders sweep us off our feet, or will we tap into the social capital of millions more healthy, well-educated adults?  Are longer lives a blessing or a curse? Experience and ideology shape the responses, of course, but there’s one thing both liberals and libertarians can agree on. What single characteristic of these older Americans will make the most difference? Their health. Living longer looks a lot more attractive when it’s uncoupled from cognitive and physical decline. It’s a lot cheaper too: illness is expensive.

Yoko Ono tackles ageist critics. And dances badly.

On her 82nd birthday, visionary artist and activist Yoko Ono released a music video called “Bad Dancer,” named after the first single on her latest Band album. Critics didn’t mind the dancing—they were warned, after all—but made plenty of disparaging comments about her singing and her costume. Ono struck back with an open letter about ageism in the music industry.  

 

Oliver Sacks on old age

I fell in love with neurologist Oliver Sacks' writing decades ago, after reading The Man Who Mistook His Wife for A Hat, a collection of case histories of patients with bizarre brain deficits or excesses, and I've been a fan ever since. I'm interested in medicine and Sacks is a wonderful wordsmith, but his humanism and empathy are what make his writing so compelling and his patients so lucky. Now 81, Sacks recently learned that he has less than a year to live. His essay about this is another astonishingy lucid, even joyous, piece of writing, which brought to mind a piece he wrote 18 months earlier called "The Joy of Old Age Age. (No kidding.)"  

On old farts and creepy old men

A few years ago I took a dramatic monologue class to sharpen my speaking skills. The teacher was brilliant and a surprising number of the participants were talented too, including three who recently presented six moving and original pieces at the Producer’s Club. I laughed, I cried, and I stumbled over some language. One piece referred to a “creepy old priest” and I punted that to Yo, Is That Ageist? Another piece prompted this note: 

 

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