Big news. For several years I've been writing a book, This Chair Rocks: Why Ageism is Bad and What to Do About It. This week I sent the manuscript to be copyedited. Next it gets designed, then published.
Questions I'm asking
As questions come up, here's where I write them down
I was delighted to see an editorial in the New York Times about a crisis in the making, the growing shortage of geriatricians. (Geriatricians are doctors trained to treat older people. Lots of people don’t know that.) The way the editorial made the case, however, was deeply flawed.
This week Harvard’s Nieman Journalism Lab ran a piece about the New York Times’ digital branding efforts. It quoted a series of tweets by Max Pfennighaus, who is the executive creative director of brand and marketing at the Times and previously held the same position at NPR, and whose job is to build the newspaper’s digital brand. He described the core challenge as the “grandpa in a nightclub” problem.
That’s a question that Dr. Laura Carstensen regularly fields after explaining why older people are happier than younger ones—the basis of the ubiquitous Happiness U-curve. As I admit in my talk, I didn’t really believe the curve existed until I understood why. Carstensen, a psychologist and the founder of the Stanford Longevity Center, explains it beautifully.
Blacks at the back of the bus. Women in the kitchen. Gays in the closet. For most of American history, until movements came along that changed things, that was “just the way things are.”
That’s still the way it is when it comes to getting older in America.
Once I got past the title (“What if Age Is Nothing but a Mind-Set?”) and the creepy photographs of faux-old toddlers—the ageist equivalent of blackface? Or “grayface?” as my colleague Andrea Charise proposed?—I read this article in the New York Times magazine with great interest. And mixed feelings.
One of the nice “keep up the good work” responses to my mass email last week came from my friend Robin. Her note went on to say that, “Even my mom, who just died at 95, wasn't an ‘old lady.’ Up until the last few days she really fought like a tiger . . . until her body just gave out. She simply died of old age.” She had lived with debilitating arthritis that set in in her late 40s, and “found a lot of meaning knitting baby items endlessly for the City of Hope and other charities.” Female, in her ninth decade, yet not an old lady?