I’ve just attended the 2012 Age Boom Academy at the Columbia Journalism School: five days immersed in expert presentations on all aspects of aging, from healthcare reform to new developments in cognitive science. Excellent stuff, and more about it soon. The conference was sponsored by Atlantic Philanthropies, where Pulitzer-Prizewinning writer and New York Times veteran Jack Rosenthal is now a Senior Fellow. On the first day he asked us a question: what should we call the population we journalists are writing about?
In Slate’s geezer-centric issue, Daniel Engber takes a lucid look at sexual activity — or, more likely, its prohibition — in an article titled "Naughty Nursing Homes." Engber cites an August 2007 article in the New England Journal of Medicine about sexual activity among older people. Some predictable findings: people who described themselves as healthy were more likely to be sexually active, women were less so then men, and sexual activity declines with age. But not so fast!
The latest census data is out, and regional papers are picking up on it. In Baltimore County, the 85+ population is growing fast: up 40% between 2000 and 2007, and up 16.5% in the city itself. They’re paving the way for boomers (ages 55 to 64), whose numbers in the area rose by a third over the same period, July 2000 to July 2007. Among the old old, demographers credit overall longevity and better health care.
A New York Times magazine column by Jack Rosenthal tackles the search
for a generic term to describe the enormous cohort of Americans over 65 — or whenever it is that oldness begins.
Harry (Rick) Moody, a scholar on the subject of aging, describes the great majority as the wellderly. ”¦ But language has not yet caught up with life.