Matt Fuchs takes a look at “recent research [that] points to interventions in diet, exercise and mental outlook that could slow down aging and age-related diseases – without risky biohacks such as unproven gene therapies.”
The story of Hugh Brown of Australia, who “made a hole-in-one on the 161-yard par-3 hole, just two months shy of his 100th birthday.”
In my search for literature that presents older adult characters, particularly older women, who often feel themselves becoming invisible in a culture that fetishizes and focuses on youth, I came upon this list. Amy Lee Lillard presents “seven books [that] celebrate the older woman that defies logic and bias. They won’t go quietly into oblivion. They won’t disappear, and in fact, insist on being seen. Even if that involves letting their anger out. Even if it involves violence.”
Some—or perhaps all—of these books may not be your reading cup of tea, but I feel validated just knowing that some authors are still treating older women like functioning adults.
Parents were fine with sweeping school vaccination mandates five decades ago – but COVID-19 may be a different story
I live in a retirement community, and one topic of conversation that has come up quite a few times is “Nobody complained about their kids getting polio shots at school back in the 1950s.”
Here James Colgrove, professor of sociomedical sciences at Mailman School of Public Health of Columbia University, discusses how times are now different: “As a public health historian who studies the evolution of vaccination policies, I see stark differences between the current debates over COVID-19 vaccination and the public response to previous mandates.”
If, like me, you’re a long-time baseball fan, you’ll probably appreciate this story involving the Atlanta Braves as much as I did. It’s about a lot more than just baseball.
“How one of the Beatles’ greatest songs came to be.”
An informative reminiscence by Paul McCartney.
“The assumption that all older people are frail and helpless is a common, incorrect stereotype.”
Judith Graham of Kaiser Health News reports on “ageism in health care settings, a long-standing problem that’s getting new attention during the Covid-19 pandemic, which has killed more than half a million Americans age 65 and older.”
© 2021 by Mary Daniels Brown
A recent ascent of a steep, rocky hill convinced me that I need to make an effort to strengthen my legs and knees. Fortunately, I found some encouragement in this article.
Tom Beer writes, “can we pause and pay tribute to the older writers still producing work into their 80s and even their 90s? I ask because I am currently reading Today a Woman Went Mad in the Supermarket . . ., a career-spanning collection of stories by Hilma Wolitzer, age 91.”
Other writers he mentions who are still going strong include Wole Soyinka (age 87), Cynthia Oaick (93), Jerome Charyn, Orville Schell, and Diane Johnson.
The current trend of fillers and procedures, and this obsession with filtering, and the things that we do to adjust our appearance on Zoom are wiping out generations of beauty,” she added. “Once you mess with your face, you can’t get it back.”
James Taylor: “All music is reiteration… We just pick stuff up and use it again. I mean, there are just 12 notes”
A bit of history on the musical icon whose “self-titled debut album was released in 1968 on the Beatles’ Apple Records; he was the first outside artist signed to the label.”
Dementia isn’t actually a disease, according to the Mayo Clinic. It’s a catch-all term for changes in the brain that cause a loss of functioning that interferes with daily life. Dementia can diminish focus, the ability to pay attention, language skills, problem-solving and visual perception. It also can make it difficult for a person to control his or her emotions and lead to personality changes.
This article contains some information on the various forms of dementia as well as the warning signs to be aware of and how to find help.
“As the Tony-winning Broadway musical about her life returns to the stage, the legendary performer reflects on her career in a new interview: ‘Recently Cher came to visit. We gossiped and laughed a lot.’”
See Tina Turner perform at Harvard Stadium back in 1970 was one of the highlights of my coming-of-age time. In this email interview Yohana Desta asks Turner about her current life: “It’s a blissful life, one that Turner worked incredibly hard to earn.”
I feel a certain vindication in reporting these study results. All my life people have been ribbing me about my attention—some call it obsessive—to details. I’m the one who always checks every drawer and shelf at least twice before leaving a hotel to ensure that nothing will get left behind. I’m the one who checks every night at bed time that the kitchen stove has been turned off.
And here’s my payoff: “Persistent and conscientious people” tend to live the longest.
© 2021 by Mary Daniels Brown
Blue Origin announced Monday that William Shatner will blast off from West Texas on Oct. 12 in the second crewed Blue Origin capsule to rocket into space. “What a miracle,” the 90-year-old “Star Trek” star said in a statement.
Stop the presses! Capt. James T. Kirk is going into space.
Eleanor Beardsley visits with French pianist Colette Maze.
Maze, born on June 16, 1914, says her mother was severe and unloving. So she turned to music for the affection she lacked at home.
“I always preferred composers who gave me tenderness,” she says. “Like [Robert] Schumann and [Claude] Debussy. Music is an affective language, a poetic language. In music there is everything — nature, emotion, love, revolt, dreams; it’s like a spiritual food.”
“The oldest lobster fisher in the state and possibly the oldest one in the world, [Virginia] Oliver still faithfully tends to her traps off Rockland, Maine, with her 78-year-old son Max.”
I have a personal interest in this story. My in-laws grew up in Rockland, Maine. If they were alive today, they’d be 107 and 108. I wonder if they would have known Virginia Oliver.
“Forgetting names and faces can be annoying—but it’s critical for our brains to function at their best, a new book argues.”
We joke, and then worry, when we notice ourselves beginning to forget names and such things. This article discusses a new book, Forgetting: The Benefits of Not Remembering, by Scott Small, “who studies and treats Alzheimer’s disease at Columbia University.” Small believes that “some amount of forgetfulness is critical for our minds and relationships to function at their best.”
Researchers have known for quite some time now that older adults are vulnerable to loneliness as their contact with family and friends decreases because of deaths and their own diminishing mobility. This problem was heightened during pandemic isolation:
The effects of social isolation during the pandemic have hit all ages — some studies, for example, show teens have fared worse than other groups — but older adults already were a population vulnerable to loneliness. And for many, the pandemic was the first time they felt deep, sustained loneliness. It’s a feeling that can impact physical health, creating greater risk for some illnesses and hospitalizations; and mental health, potentially exacerbating symptoms of or leading to clinical disorders such as depression.
Here’s a report from The Mental Health Project, a Seattle Times initiative focused on covering mental and behavioral health issues.
This article reports on research published recently in the journal Neurology that may help “researchers determine an estimated timeline of symptom onset” of dementia.
While some people may not want to know when they’ll start to forget friends’ names or have difficulty calculating change at the grocery store, others, particularly those with genetic predispositions for dementia, could benefit from having time to prepare for the inevitable changes.
Even before I got to be one myself, I noticed that older adults sometimes seem obsessed with the state of their intestines. So OK, I’m just putting this article out there.
© 2021 by Mary Daniels Brown
Eastwood’s first film behind the camera, “Play Misty for Me,” came out half a century ago, and he’s still at it. At age 91, with his new “Cry Macho” set for a Sept. 17 release in theaters and on HBO Max, Eastwood — whose acting credits date to 1955 — is perhaps the oldest American ever to both direct and star in a major motion picture.
New research into how the pandemic has affected teachers found that “during the pandemic, teachers became less certain that they would work in the classroom until retirement. In March 2020, 74% of teachers said they expected to work as a teacher until retirement, but the figure fell to 69% in March 2021.”
The researchers discuss how such turnover in the profession can negatively affect students’ success and look at three areas in which teachers need support.
“An astrobiologist finds the heart of his work in a new novel by Richard Powers.”
Caleb Scharf, director of astrobiology at Columbia University, writes that the “puzzle of ‘what life really is’ might be the ultimate goal of astrobiology—we don’t just want to know whether or not we’re alone in the universe, we want to understand what we really are.”
Here Scharf describes how “the profoundly interconnected goals of astrobiology form a central theme of Bewilderment, a new novel by Richard Powers.” He describes it as “an immersive and astonishing book, a novel where the state of our world, and others, is a central anxiety for its protagonists.”
Social psychologist Ariana Orvell, assistant professor of psychology at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania, explains how distanced self-talk, the “process of reflecting on one’s self using parts of speech that are typically used to refer to other people,” can help us align “our thoughts, feelings and behaviour with our goals.”
The most common example of distanced self-talk occurs when we address ourself either by name or in the second person (“you”). This process produces psychological distancing that allows us to change perspective, to “move beyond our default, egocentric perspective, and consider our thoughts and feelings from the stance of a more objective observer.” Such a shift in perspective can help to promote reasoning, to increase willingness to search for compromise, and to recognize the limits of our own knowledge.
Sociology professor Phil Zuckerman writes:
As a scholar of secularism and a devout fan of the Beatles, I have always been fascinated by how “Imagine,” perhaps the first and only atheist anthem to be so enormously successful, has come to be so widely embraced in America. After all, the U.S. is a country that has – at least until recently – had a much more religious population than other Western industrialized democracies.
“Norma McCorvey, the plaintiff in Roe v. Wade, never had the abortion she was seeking. She gave her baby girl up for adoption, and now that baby is an adult. After decades of keeping her identity a secret, Jane Roe’s child has chosen to talk about her life.”
This deeply moving article by Joshua Prager is adapted from his recently published book The Family Roe: An American Story.
© 2021 by Mary Daniels Brown
A recent article published in the American Psychological Association’s Psychological Review suggests that living a good life needn’t focus on purpose or happiness. According to the two authors of the article, a good life can be one that’s “psychologically rich,” a phrase that they define as one characterized by “interesting experiences in which novelty and/or complexity are accompanied by profound changes in perspective.” Further, “an experience doesn’t have to be fun in order to qualify as psychologically enriching. It might even be a hardship.”
Here’s a fascinating article on how we interpret or feel music—and why popular musicians tend to avoid the key of D minor.
German composer Christian Schubart “was a forefather of musical category creation: In his 1784 essay “A History of Key Characteristics in the 18th and Early 19th Centuries,” he balanced a study of the harpsichord with insights from literature and psychology to match all 24 major and minor musical keys to different auditory personalities.”
BookBub has some recommendations of books in the category it calls “seasoned romance.” I admit I haven’t read any of these books, but if you’re looking for a book featuring older adults finding love, there may be something here for you.
We usually think of aging as a time of declining memory, producing those “senior moments” that seem to befall all of us, at least occasionally. This article reports on new research published in Nature Human Behavior suggesting “that many things improve with age, including some cognitive aspects that had previously been thought to get worse.”
“We are barely worthy of such incredible content.”
Nicole Gallucci writes that Jane Fonda began blogging in 2009 and continues today, at age 83.
Since celebrities often avoid publicly wading into politics and sharing opinions on real societal issues, it’s refreshing to see Fonda use her blog to inform readers about pressing social and environmental justice problems. And while she nails serious, impactful content, she also strikes a remarkable balance by peppering in light and playful posts.
Apparently Jane Fonda isn’t the only older social media star. Lianne Italie’s article in the Los Angeles Times reports on the “growing number of “grandfluencers,” folks 70 and older who have amassed substantial followings on social media with the help of decades-younger fans.”
© 2021 by Mary Daniels Brown
There are so many dimensions to the memories of the terrorist attacks in the U.S. on September 11, 2001. But I didn’t realize exactly how many dimensions until I began curating these links. I’ve tried to include links that cover the breadth of the dimensions of that day as we all sit with our own thoughts and remembrances.
Five Books is a website that features lists of recommended books by experts in many different fields. This page includes lists that cover many dimensions of 9/11 with topics such as literature, terrorism, and Osama bin Laden.
Anita McBride, Fellow in Residence at the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies, Department of Government, at American University, was in the White House that day. She describes her experiences here.
At the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, ancient Greece and Rome can tell us a lot about the links between collective trauma and going to war
Joel Christensen, now professor of Classical Studies at Brandeis University, was “in Washington Square Park at 8:45 a.m. on Sept. 11, 2001 – less than a mile from the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers.”
Today, as a scholar of Greek literature who studies narrative and memory, I see how this collective trauma shaped U.S. actions and has affected Americans’ vision of their identities and shared history – a feedback loop that is reflected in the myths and histories of ancient Greece.
“The New Yorker’s art editor remembers twenty years of September 11th covers.”
The events of 9/11 irrevocably changed the course of global affairs. They also changed culture. It will likely be easier to say how a century from now. But with 20 years’ hindsight, The Times’s book critics reflect below on some of the influence of that day on the writing that has followed.
“Sept. 11 accelerated a trend, already long in motion, toward opening American fiction to formerly marginalized voices,” writes Dwight Garner.
Jennifer Szalai says 9/11 produced “fictional treatments of identity that had to do with uncertainty, instability, precariousness — depicting ambivalence as an irreducible part of the human condition.”
Ron Charles writes in the Washington Post, “within a few years, it was clear that 9/11 would leave an impact on contemporary fiction as deep as its impact on every other aspect of our culture.” He discusses 13 novels that present “a sense of the wide variety of approaches writers have taken over the past two decades” to address the significance of the terrorist attacks.
UPI looks at 20 aspects of ways in which the events of 20 years ago have affected our lives, including airport security, creation of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and the shift in war powers toward the executive branch of government.
“New Yorker writers respond to 9/11.”
From the September 24, 2001, issue of The New Yorker. Entries by the following authors: John Updike, Jonathan Franzen, Denis Johnson, Roger Angell, Aharon Appelfeld, Rebecca Mead, Susan Sontag, Amitav Ghosh, and Donald Antrim.
Pamela Bittner describes the loss of her twin brother on 9/11. She was talking with her father on the phone when “we watched together in horror as Flight 175 crashed into my brother’s office building between floors 75 and 85. He worked on the 89th floor.”
A new World Trade Center stands in lower Manhattan 20 years after Sept. 11, 2001, but thousands of people who were there that day — from first responders hoping to save lives to people who were just on their daily commute — continue to feel health effects linked to the terrorist attack.
A Port of Seattle firefighter created a 9/11 memorial at Seattle-Tacoma airport to honor fallen first responders
I include this article from a local (to me) newspaper to emphasize the national character of the terrorist attacks of 9/11. And the included story of the “set up a welcome center to connect Afghan refugees fleeing the Taliban takeover of Kabul with resettlement resources and nonprofits when they arrive at Sea-Tac” Airport emphasizes the continuing need for global understanding and compassion.
© 2021 by Mary Daniels Brown
“The internet has been around for long enough — and shifted so drastically in that time — that it’s really easy to get nostalgic for past versions of online life.”
“In the United States and elsewhere, public health and medical care are largely separate enterprises. Costa Rica shows the benefits of integrating the two—it spends less than we do on health care and gets better results.”
A portrait of “Edith Murway-Traina, who is heaving around major poundage at the age of 100—making her a Guinness World Record holder for being the oldest known competitive female powerlifter in the world.”
In ‘Rumors,’ Lizzo and Cardi B pull from the ancient Greeks, putting a new twist on an old tradition
Grace B. McGowan, a PhD Candidate in American Studies at Boston University, celebrates the return of Black women to “the classical tradition, a style rooted in the aesthetics of ancient Greece and Rome.” McGowan writes that artists like Lizzo and Cardi B are “adding their own twist” to this tradition.
I periodically dream about losing my teeth, forgetting to go to class for an entire semester, or being unprepared for an exam. Here a professor of psychiatry and a doctoral candidate in neuroscience from the University of Montreal discuss recurrent dream motifs and their possible meanings.
Jane Trombley, a Baby Boomer herself, laments, “I don’t see enough of my peers initiating the conversation. And that’s a drag. Millennials and everyone else need to hear much of what Boomers have to say.”
She ends with a challenge: “Over to you, Boomers.”
So, whadda ya say?
In October 2019, a month or so before Covid-19 began to spread from the industrial Chinese city of Wuhan, Steven Taylor, an Australian psychologist at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, published what would turn out to be a remarkably prophetic book, The Psychology of Pandemics.
The Guardian reports on Taylor’s psychological approach to understanding pandemics in general and, specifically, the current state of world affairs surrounding COVID-19.
Lorraine Duffy Merkl basks in the freedom that being in her 60s offers: “We can finally let go of the please-like-me baggage and secrets that have been weighing us down, as well as the insecurities based on what others think of us, and realize what really matters is being ourselves and letting the chips fall.”
© 2021 by Mary Daniels Brown