In the New York Times on January 20: "In her cogent look at the link between gender and poverty (“How Can We Help Men? By Helping Women,” Opinion, Jan. 12), Stephanie Coontz calls for prioritizing affordable child care. Decent, reliable elder care is just as important. Women perform the vast majority of this unpaid labor as well, and the age of the person requiring care should be irrelevant."
In a New York Times op-ed titled “On Dying After Your Time”, prominent bioethicist Daniel Callahan concludes that we should help young people become old, but that when it comes to the old “our duty may be just the reverse: to let death have its day.” It provoked these rebuttals from me and from my colleague Elizabeth Schneewind:
I just learned about a book called The Aging City, by Ruth Finkelstein and Senior Planet's Tom Kamber. It sounds great, but A City for All Ages would have been a better title. Ramps are very handy for strollers and people of all ages with disabilities, and the more we can frame things intergenerationally, the better.
When I moved to a Brooklyn neighborhood with a median age of around 23, I said to myself that it would be time to move when I could no longer hustle up the subway steps as fast as the kids. In the eight years since, I’ve gotten a little wiser. Now I’m planning to let the hipsters pass, or help me with my shopping bags. I’ve even figured out that it’ll be good for both of us.
The "assisted suicide" lines used to be drawn more sharply for me. After all, I had in-the-trenches experience. My mother was a charter member of the Hemlock Society, the first national “right-to-die” organization.
How Old is Too Old To Have Sex? was the title of a Huffington Post Live Blog that I took part in on June 14th. As I pointed out during the exchange, the question itself is profoundly ageist. We don’t ask whether people age out of singing, or eating ice cream, so why even pose the question when it comes to making love?
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?”
Until I read this article on the New York Times Well Blog, I had no idea that hearing loss linked to a variety of health problems, most notably dementia. It cites a longitudinal study that found that “compared to individuals with normal hearing, those individuals with a mild, moderate, and severe hearing loss, respectively, had a 2-, 3- and 5-fold increased risk of developing dementia [emphasis mine] over the course of the study.”