psychology

giving talk for the Geriatric Mental Health Association of NY

Below, the snappy promotional email that the Geriatric Mental Health Association of NY is sending out to promote my talk on Monday, March 18, at the Silberman School of Social Work.  It's co-sponsored by the Brookdale Center for Healthy Aging.  Very exciting. My first paying audience too ($15) - but you can see it for free at Senior Planet this Thursday, Feb 21.

 

a definition of wisdom I can live with

I’ve long been leery of the way wisdom is bandied about as an auto-accessory of old age, like spryness and shrinking. It doesn’t come with the territory, and its association with passivity has political repercussions. (See “against wisdom.”) But I just came across a wonderful definition from a San Francisco-based psychologist named Todd Finnemore, whom I interviewed in May, 2010, when I was investigating why medical practitioners choose to work with older populations.

aiming at ambivalence

I attended my first Age Boom Academy for journalists in 2008 and have returned several times since. This year was particularly rewarding, because now I’m able to put the speeches in context and because I’m honing in on a specific question: why are Americans, individually and collectively, so deaf to all but the negative messages about old age? After all, no one wants to die young, and no one disputes that the elimination of premature death is a remarkable achievement.

Old age as staircase (maybe with one of those electric lifts)

One of the extensions of the TED brand is TEDWomen, and in this talk Jane Fonda describes her “third act.” She’s been thinking about aging for some time, and seems to be less conflicted than last spring, when Showbiz Spy reported “Jane Fonda Writing a Book about Plastic Surgery and Aging!” Her look is better too: love the wonky black specs.

What drives the disconnect between us and our future selves?

Two friends sent me links to a piece by James Ridgeway’s piece in the Guardian about the future of growing old in America.(Bottom line: not looking good.  Better to be British, though not for long or by much.) What caught my eye wasn’t the greedy-geezer-rebutting statistics that millions of older Americans can expect to keep working or to be poor – or both.  It was the first line: “In her remarkable book The Coming of Age, Simone de Beauvoir observed that fear of aging and death drives younger people to view their elders as a separate species, rather than as their own future selves.”

“something very deep and quite human”: happiness in late life

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.