From health to home ownership, here’s a one-page statistical snapshot of what it’s like to be an American in your 70’s. Overall, a far brighter picture than a few decades ago, according to Dr. Marie Butler, deputy director of the National Institute on Aging.
Stuff I'm reading
Stuff I'm reading in the mags, books and the blogosphere.
A large Gallup poll of more than has found that “by almost any measure, people get happier as they get older.” The tone is skeptical: “[Getting old] sounds miserable, but apparently it is not.” The methodology is impeccable: researchers surveyed 340,000 Americans aged 18 to 85. The conclusion is clear: “good news for old people, and for those who are getting old.” In other words, for everyone.
It wasn’t the well-worn topic of a recent New York Times lifestyle article that struck me. (White-collar baby boomers, dubbed the “Encore Generation” by Marc Freedman, are staking out do-gooder second careers.) It was the matter-of-fact way this trend was presented within a radically new demographic, biological, and cultural landscape.
A lovely piece in the Science section of this week’s New York Times talks about what William James called the psychologist’s fallacy: “assuming incorrectly that one knows what someone else is experiencing.” Meeting a woman who had just lost her husband of 70 years, Dr. Marc Agronin presumed that she would be grief-stricken. Just the opposite, in fact.
In his op-ed piece in today’s New York Times, David Brooks points out that conceiving of old people as detached, depressed, and ineducable is not just outdated but wrong. “The research paints a comforting picture,” he writes. Then the editorial runs into trouble, starting with its title, “The Geezers’ Crusade” — and not the geezer part.
That’s the subtitle of a Newsweek article by contributing editor Eliot Cose, which cites bleak employment statistics for workers over 55, a jump in age-discrimination complaints, and a recent Supreme Court ruling that weakens the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967.
Judith Warner’s “I Feel It Coming Together” post on her "Domestic Disturbances" blog, excerpted in Sunday’s New York Times, bemoans the fact that it’s all downhill after age 44. “I now see the passage of time more as a kind of bell curve,” she writes. “Years of ascension, soaring anticipation, followed by a plateau — which is not so bad, really — and then, no way to sugar coat this: a rather precipitous decline.” So long forever to “excitement, discovery, intensity.”