chronological age

Is “retirement age” an anachronism?

Yes. And it’s a good thing, because people the same age can function very differently, and functionality should trump chronology. But that makes it harder to wield the blunt instrument of public policy fairly, and the shifting landscape of retirement makes doesn’t help. Some people are cutting cut back on their hours, some retire and then return to the workforce, and some just keep working—some by choice and others out of necessity—and their stories are all over the media this week. 

 

excellent feedback from geriatric practitioners yesterday

Yesterday I spoke for the first time to an audience of medical practitioners at Weill Cornell Medical College/NY-Presbyterian Hospital Dept. of Geriatrics. It was in a beautiful conference room in the Gothic hulk of a building next to the East River where my daughter was born 28 years ago next week. I opened with an anecdote from a friend who brought his 83-year-old mother in to the family doctor for a check-up—she was in a wheelchair after a stroke—and when they came into his office the doctor said, “Are you still around?”

 

Anything wrong with lookin’ good?

My new year’s resolution is to start integrating more personal reflections into the blog. No better place to begin than a BBC News story that came my way last week about a link between youthful looks and longer lives. Studies show younger-looking twins in both Denmark and the UK outliving their siblings. As ever, it’s a dance between genetics and environment. Worn faces probably reflect harder lives, and those subjects also had shorter telomeres (pieces of DNA that protect the ends of chromosomes from deteriorating).

“I am 67 years old. I am who I am.”

Hats off to Susan Llewellyn. In a New York Times Letter to the Editor today, she called New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg on his response (above) to reporters pressing him about a recent spate of offensive remarks. “It reads a lot like, ‘I am 67 years old and too old to change.’” Llewellyn commented.  “As someone who has two years on His Honor, I still hope never to use my age as an excuse for my attitudes!”

 

Delaying disability, not disease

It’s been chastening and illuminating to see certain preconceived notions fall by the wayside as my research progresses. An early one was the assumption that good health was a precondition for an active old age. Although I expected to encounter the occasional, extraordinary geriatric Stephen Hawking, it seemed intuitively obvious. And certainly most of the people I’ve spoken with are exceptionally healthy, remaining physically mobile as well as mentally agile. Good luck, good genes.

But many also suffer from chronic or degenerative disease — and it doesn’t keep them from their work.