Last Week’s Links

4 Essential Books About Queen Elizabeth II

Talk about life stories. Queen Elizabeth II certainly had one. Kirkus Reviews suggests some books for those of us wanting to read about it.

The Elizabethan Aura

Vanity Fair dips into its archives to celebrate Queen Elizabeth.

To mark her 90th birthday, Queen Elizabeth II sat for an unprecedented photo shoot with ANNIE LEIBOVITZ, their second collaboration. On the cover and the next 20 pages, the resulting portraits (some exclusive to V.F., others shared on the royal Web site) provide an intimate, wide-ranging tribute to a steadfast ruler— the longest-serving monarch in Britain’s history. WILLIAM SHAWCROSS analyzes the subtle power of her reign.

The Two Choices That Keep a Midlife Crisis at Bay

For years, scholars mostly didn’t challenge the conventional wisdom that a traumatic midlife crisis was normal, if not inevitable. More recently, however, many have found that a “crisis” is not our unavoidable fate. With knowledge and effort, you (and I) can make two crucial choices that can lead to harnessing the changes and difficulties of aging to instead design a midlife transcendence.

Arthur C. Brooks proposes two strategies people can employ, adding that “if you make the right choices, midlife may just be the best opportunity and biggest adventure you have had in decades.”

Zombie cells central to the quest for active, vital old age

I admit that what mainly drew my attention to this article is the word zombie. Zombie cells are “cells [that] eventually stop dividing and enter a ‘senescent’ state in response to various forms of damage.” The body removes most such cells, but others hang around “like zombies. They aren’t dead,” but “they can harm nearby cells like moldy fruit corrupting a fruit bowl.”

These zombie cells are thought to be linked to “age-related conditions such as dementia, cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis.” This report from the Associated Press summarizes research into the question of whether the build-up of zombie cells in the body can be stopped to prevent the onset of such typically age-related conditions.

Grandmother and grandson visit 62 national parks on adventure of a lifetime

“Joy Ryan, 92, had never seen a mountain. So her grandson decided to take her to every site that has ‘national park’ in its name.”

Here’s a heart-warming story of how a young veterinarian and his 92-year-old grandmother have helped each other since they started visiting national parks in the U.S. in 2015.

Your Doppelgänger Is Out There and You Probably Share DNA With Them

Research has demonstrated that the similarities between unrelated people who look alike has “more to do with their DNA than with the environments they grew up in.”

Stop drinking, keep reading, look after your hearing: a neurologist’s tips for fighting memory loss and Alzheimer’s

Gaby Hinsliff discusses the book The Complete Guide to Memory: The Science of Strengthening Your Mind by neuroscientist Dr. Richard Restak for answers to the following questions: “When does forgetfulness become something more serious? And how can we delay or even prevent that change?” 

© 2022 by Mary Daniels Brown

Last Week’s Links

Jane Fonda, 84, diagnosed with cancer, undergoing chemo treatments

Jane Fonda has announced that she is undergoing chemotherapy for non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma: “This is a very treatable cancer. 80% of people survive, so I feel very lucky.”

16 Great Books About Mental Health for Empathy, Insight and So Much More

“Many of us have a tendency to neglect our own mental health or downplay the struggles we may be experiencing, but it’s important to care for your mental well-being in the same way you would attend to your physical health.” Here are some reading suggestions.

I’m 72, and This Is How I Want to Spend My Remaining Years

for me, longevity is not a goal to which I aspire. I don’t want to live long as much as I want to live well. So, here’s my bucket list of sorts, the things I think will help me live well in my remaining years . . .

See if you agree with Ann Brenoff’s approach for living the rest of her life.

These identical twins married identical twins. Now they have sons.

Just in case you need your mind boggled . . .

Sunset Valley, Montana 1926

“An excerpt of Eileen Joyce Donovan’s forthcoming second novel, published at 73, ‘A Lady Newspaperman’s Dilemma.’ With an introduction from the author.”

“People ask me about my path to publishing later in life,” writes Eileen Joyce Donovan. 

 What We Gain From a Good-Enough Life

“A new book challenges us to abandon greatness in favor of more attainable goals.”

Lily Meyer discusses the recently published book The Good-Enough Life by Avram Alpers:

Alpert does not ask his readers to abandon their goals completely, but he does ask us to acknowledge the unlikelihood of becoming the next Kim Kardashian or creating a workers’ paradise. He also argues that clinging too tightly to such dreams, at the expense of smaller or partial ones, sets us up for both practical and moral failure . . .

© 2022 by Mary Daniels Brown

Last Week’s Links

Big Changes Coming to Medicare Part D Plans

AARP reports on the changes coming to Medicare drug plans as a result of the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022: “The new law makes other changes to the program’s Part D drug benefits, including putting a limit on out-of-pocket payments for insulin and making vital vaccines free.”

Why a ‘silver gap year’ can be a golden opportunity, and how to start planning your own

Laura Martin describes the “silver” or “golden” gap year: “often an extended break as opposed to a full year. Nearly a quarter of retirees had taken a year to go travelling in their retirement or would consider doing so, according to 2019 research from retirement accommodation provider Inspired Villages.”

I’m Retiring. Shouldn’t I Be Celebrating?

Michèle Dawson Haber has been planning for years to retire from her job as a labor advocate before age 65. But now, at age 56, she has reached the moment:

I feel on the cusp of loss, despite being certain that this is what I want. Sure, I’ll miss the work and my colleagues, but the anxiety I feel is bigger than that. I know I need to stop moping and pirouette into my blessed new life, but first, I want to figure out what it is I’m losing.

She’s afraid retirement might mean the loss of purpose or the loss of youth. But observing her mother, who has Alzheimer’s disease, makes Laura realize that her retirement won’t mean the loss of self: “I don’t need to worry about holding onto youth, being productive, or staying relevant for others, because that has nothing to do with who I am.”

How America’s ageism hurts, shortens lives of elderly

The Harvard Gazette features an excerpt from the book Breaking the Age Code: How Your Beliefs About Aging Determine How Long & Well You Live by Harvard alumna Becca Levy. A social psychologist, Levy tested “the impact of cultural age stereotypes on the health and lives of older people”:

In study after study I conducted, I found that older people with more positive perceptions of aging performed better physically and cognitively than those with more negative perceptions; they were more likely to recover from severe disability, they remembered better, they walked faster, and they even lived longer.

She describes the purpose of her book this way: “In this book, I will show you how priming, or the activation of age stereotypes without awareness, works, what it says about the unconscious nature of our stereotypes, and how we can strengthen our ideas about aging.”

Can You Pass the 10-Second Balance Test?

“Balance training is an important but often-neglected skill, one that impacts both our longevity and our quality of life, beginning around age 40,” writes Hilary Achauer in this article for the New York Times. She describes some exercises to improve balance.

Yoga versus democracy? What survey data says about spiritual Americans’ political behavior

According to Evan Stewart, assistant professor of sociology at UMass Boston, and Jaime Kucinskas, associate professor of sociology at Hamilton College:

Today – the rise of a politically potent religious right over the past 50 years notwithstanding – fewer Americans identify with formal religions. Gallup found that 47% of Americans reported church membership in 2020, down from 70% in the 1990s; nearly a quarter of Americans have no religious affiliation.

At the same time, “other kinds of meaningful practice” and new secular rituals are on the rise. These sociologists studied whether the new focus on mindfulness and self-care is making Americans more self-centered. Here they discuss their findings, which are published in the journal American Sociological Review.

E. Bryant Crutchfield, 85, Dies; Gave the World the Trapper Keeper

Few objects evoke Gen X or millennial childhood as powerfully as the Trapper Keeper, essentially a large binder for your folders. Mead, Mr. Crutchfield’s employer, introduced it nationally in 1981, and by the end of the decade the company estimated that half of all middle and high school students in the United States had one.

I never had one of these myself (although I did sort of covet one), but I bought a few for my child. I understand they’ve been reintroduced in this year’s crop of school supplies, in some sort of ’80s nostalgia movement.

© 2022 by Mary Daniels Brown

Last Week’s Links

What You Need to Know About Regrets

“How looking backward shows us the path forward.”

“So how do we reconcile with regrets as we age? For older adults, it can be bittersweet to compare what is to what could have been, as our chances for a do-over dwindle,” writes Tove Strandmark. Drawing from the book The Power of Regret: How Looking Backward Moves Us Forward by Daniel H. Pink, she offers some advice and examples.

How some Seattle-area seniors are getting an outdoor escape

Here’s an article about “Cycling Without Age, a global organization trying to enrich the lives of older people by visiting extended living facilities and offering rides piloted by volunteers.” The volunteers use specialized electric bicycles called trishaws.

Old age isn’t a modern phenomenon – many people lived long enough to grow old in the olden days, too

I see a lot of articles explaining that the number of older adults is increasing as advances in fields like medicine and nutrition allow people to live longer. But Sharon DeWitte, professor of anthropology at the University of South Carolina, reminds us that in earlier times people also lived long enough to grow old. She’s a bioarchaeologist, someone who studies human skeletons excavated from archaeological sites to see what life in the past was like. “There’s physical evidence that plenty of people in the past lived long lives – just as long as some people do today,” she writes.

Good Company: Depictions of Older Women in Literature

Jane Campbell has some reading recommendations:

For some time, I have been relishing literature that offers wonderfully varying depictions of old women. They are good company. These are pieces that expose the cruelty inflicted on older women and that impress me with their capacity to pursue the essence of the complex creature that still exists inside the worn-out body. Inside them all is the fight for their independence.

The Real-Life Women’s Baseball League Behind ‘A League of Their Own’

I’ve mentioned before that I like baseball. I eagerly watched the 1992 movie A League of Their Own. Now Amazon has produced a TV series with the same title. In this article Ellen Gutoskey fills in some history of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, which lasted from 1943 until 1954.

You Can Expect to Be Happy in Your 50s and 60s

Psychology Today takes a look at the happiness curve, which suggests that humans overall get happier after midlife:  “The argument, which comes from huge data sets, suggests two ways to think about your own history. Don’t blame yourself so much for the bad time—and be optimistic that things will improve.”

How My Mother’s Dementia Has Made Us So Much Closer

“The most common personality change for people with dementia is apathy or sadness,” according to geriatric psychiatrist Gary Kennedy, a professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Bronx-based Montefiore Medical Center and the Albert Einstein School of Medicine. Though he added that physicians and psychiatrists wouldn’t hear about those patients who become sweeter and more loving because that’s not a problem.

Here Elena Bowes tells one of those stories that we don’t hear about often. Bowes describes how her 88-year-old mother has become “softer, kinder, more loving”—although, Bowes admits, she still occasionally catches a glimpse of her old mother, who was often critical and judgmental.

Medical Mutual Aid Before Roe v. Wade

Linda Thurston tells the story of how and a group of friends at Boston University created a handbook called Birth Control, Abortion and V.D., A Guide for the B.U. Student. There were two editions of the handbook published, the first in April 1969 and the second in January 1970.

I attended Boston University from 1966 to 1970. Although I don’t specifically remember this pamphlet, I do remember what it was like in Massachusetts at the time: “you could only get a legal abortion in the US if you got two doctors to testify that having a baby would kill you.” Massachusetts was particularly strict, with public enforcement of antique laws still on the books that prohibited showing and describing of birth control devices in public. 

© 2022 by Mary Daniels Brown

Last Week’s Links

“I’m Not Proud”: Given a Second Chance, Jane Fonda Probably Wouldn’t Do the Facelift Again

“The actor talked aging gracefully with Vogue.”

“I stay moisturized, I sleep, I move, I stay out of the sun, and I have good friends who make me laugh. Laughter is a good thing too,” Fonda, 85, tells Kenzie Bryant.

Serena Williams to ‘move on’ from tennis after U.S. Open

“She declined to use the term ‘retirement,’ which she said doesn’t ‘feel like a modern word.’ She instead called her decision an ‘evolution.’”

Illuminating the brain one neuron and synapse at a time – 5 essential reads about how researchers are using new tools to map its structure and function

The U.S. Brain Research Through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative is a collaboration among the National Institutes of Health, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, National Science Foundation, Food and Drug Administration and Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity and others. Since its inception in 2013, its goal has been to develop and use new technologies to examine how each neuron and neural circuit comes together to “record, process, utilize, store, and retrieve vast quantities of information, all at the speed of thought.”

“These five stories from our archives cover research that has been funded by or advances the goals of the BRAIN Initiative, detailing a slice of what’s next in neuroscience.”

Even simple exercise may help aging brain, study hints

New research hints that even a simple exercise routine just might help older Americans with mild memory problems.

Doctors have long advised physical activity to help keep a healthy brain fit. But the government-funded study marks the longest test of whether exercise makes any difference once memory starts to slide — research performed amid a pandemic that added isolation to the list of risks to participants’ brain health.

Launching My Debut Novel At 75

Wondra Chang, a native of South Korea, came to the U.S. in 1970. She had begun writing stories as a young child, but after she emigrated to the United States, she spent a long time learning to write English that met her artistic standards. “It was a public affirmation for me when Kirkus Reviews listed my debut novel, Sonju, in its 100 Best Indie Books of the Year in 2021,” she tells us.

Could learning algebra in my 60s make me smarter?

“New Yorker writer Alec Wilkinson struggled with maths at school, finding inspiration in literature instead. But aged 65, in the hope of unlocking a new part of his brain, he decided to put the limits of his intelligence to the test”

When Wilkinson decided to study algebra, he consulted his niece, Amie Wilkinson, a professor at the University of Chicago. He asked her how she thought the process would go.

“If I had to guess, I would say you will probably overthink,” she told him.

Boy, was she right.

But five months (Alec had thought his program of study would take six weeks) later, he had learned a bit about how algebra works and a lot more about how the brain works.

And he’s written a book about the whole experience, A Divine Language: Learning Algebra, Geometry, and Calculus at the Edge of Old Age. This article is “an edited extract” from that book.

© 2022 by Mary Daniels Brown

Last Week’s Links

A brief history of Esperanto, the 135-year-old language of peace hated by Hitler and Stalin alike

I’ve heard of Esperanto but know very little about it. This article explains how and why it was created as “a way for diverse groups of people to communicate easily and peacefully.”

Pop Culture’s Problem with Middle-Aged Women

“Women of a certain age are still largely invisible and left out of our narratives—or else, she’s a very particular type of middle-aged woman.”

“I never expected that turning fifty would bother me,” writes Lisa Whittington-Hill. She admits that, recently, television and movies have begun to portray more roles for women in middle life. However:

pop culture still has a problem with middle-aged women—something I discovered when, in an attempt to avoid my midlife crisis, I decided to look more closely at this fraught relationship. They are still largely invisible and left out of the narrative or are depicted as wives and moms who are not worthy of their own story lines. Sometimes they are career women, but that also becomes their only identity, and their story line is focused on how they can’t have it all—whatever that all is. When middle-aged women are well represented, it also tends to be a particular type of woman: She is married or divorced and has kids. She is also typically white, straight, cisgender, and thin. All of these trends suggest there is a certain set of expectations of what women must have achieved by the time they reach middle age, and those who don’t conform are largely left out of our stories.

How a Mormon Housewife Turned a Fake Diary Into an Enormous Best-Seller

“‘Go Ask Alice’ sold millions of copies and became a TV movie, but its true provenance was a secret.”

Casey Cep tells the story of Go Ask Alice, first published in 1971. The author was listed as Anonymous, and the story described how the narrator (also unnamed) spiraled down a drug-hazed life after unknowingly drinking a bottle of Coke spiked with LSD at a party.

Cep describes how the book became a best seller, its popularity fueled by the war on drugs as well as by the very controversy its publication created. 

25 Places to Catch a Bit of Baseball History

“Pick up some peanuts and Cracker Jack for a trip through stadiums, museums, and other sites celebrating the old ball game.”

If you live in or will be traveling to anywhere in the eastern half of the United States, here are some suggestions for sites to visit if, like me, you’re watching the build-up toward the postseason. Go Mariners!

How Polio Crept Back Into the U.S.

“U.S. public health agencies generally don’t test wastewater for signs of polio. That may have given the virus time to circulate silently before it paralyzed a New York man.”

I remember being ushered out of my second-grade classroom and lined up along the hallway, where the school nurse progressed up the line giving each of us a shot. I also remember the chilling photographs of rooms filled with iron lungs, each housing a patient paralyzed by polio: “At its peak in 1952, polio killed more than 3,000 Americans and paralyzed more than 20,000.”

Because of those memories, this report from ProPublica terrifies me. Its implications go well beyond a small threat of polio. The emergence of new viruses such as COVID-19 as well as the controversy over vaccination itself have created a situation that could well affect how we deal with the possibility of future worldwide epidemics. 

One last trip: Gabriella Walsh’s decision to die — and celebrate life — on her own terms

After learning that cancer, which had spread from her breast to bones throughout her body, left her with six to eight months to live, Gabriella Walsh didn’t want to extend her life, “but to prioritize the quality of the time she had left.” She decided “to pursue California’s End of Life Option Act, a law that took effect six years ago.”

According to the article, “California one of only 10 states, as well as the District of Columbia, to permit medical aid in dying.” But, author Marisa Gerber acknowledges, “the measure still has many vocal detractors.”

After discussing Gabriella Walsh’ personal history along with medical and legal issues, Gerber covers Walsh’s final month. I’ve never read a more sensitive, touching narrative.

Alexa Could Diagnose Alzheimer’s and Other Brain Conditions—Should It?

“Digital personal assistants could be equipped to diagnose cognitive issues using speech, though the ethics are debatable.”

Joanna Thompson writes:

We can all agree that Alexa’s tendency to eavesdrop is, at times, a little creepy. But is it possible to harness that ability to improve our health? That’s the question that researcher David Simon and his coauthors sought to answer in a recent paper published in Cell Press.

Simon says, “Technologies like this are coming. And I think they’re coming faster than the law is equipped to address in a complete way.” He urges policymakers to start now weighing the legal and ethical issues of privacy and consent alongside the possibile benefits of early diagnosis.

© 2022 by Mary Daniels Brown

Last Week’s Links

Tony Dow, Big Brother Wally on ‘Leave It to Beaver,’ Dies at 77

Tony Dow, who became a star at 12 as Wally Cleaver, the barely teenage older brother on the popular 1950s and ’60s comedy series “Leave It to Beaver,” died on Wednesday at his home in Topanga, Calif. He was 77.

Joni Mitchell Reclaims Her Voice at Newport

Lindsay Zoladz writes in The New York Times that “the past two-plus years of seemingly unending illness, sacrifice and loss have left so many people hungry for stories of resilience, hard-won strength and new beginnings.”

Joni Mitchell, 78, stunned attendees of the Newport Folk Festival (and the countless people who have since watched viral cellphone videos of the event) when she performed in public for the first time since her 2015 brain aneurysm, playing her first full-length live set since 2000.

Once again, Joni Mitchell gives us all a reason to live

Los Angeles Times columnist Mary McNamara writes:

Mitchell, 78, who has spent years recovering from a brain aneurysm, sang, played guitar and proved there is a reason for social media to exist. Most of us were nowhere near Rhode Island when this miracle occurred, but thanks to video posted to YouTube and shared widely through every media platform available, we all got to start our week watching Joni Mitchell live, performing “Summertime,” “The Circle Game” and most especially “Both Sides Now.”

Here’s why Joni Mitchell’s performance at the Newport Folk Festival is so incredible

And Vanessa Romo, reporting for NPR, marvels at Joni Mitchell’s performance because is remarkable because, after the brain aneurysm, Mitchell had to learn to speak, walk, and play the guitar all over again. 

 The Case for Age Limits in American Politics

“We’ve always had a minimum age to serve in Congress. How about a max?”

“It’s not that older folks, who make up a significant chunk of the American population, shouldn’t be properly represented in the halls of power. It’s that they’re way overrepresented, and it is bending the trajectory of our national life. The American story has been crowded out by the story of the baby-boomer generation,” writes Jack Holmes for Esquire

At 79, Biden Is Testing the Boundaries of Age and the Presidency

In The New York Times, Peter Baker looks specifically at President Biden concerning the question of age and politicians: “If he mounts another campaign in 2024, Mr. Biden would be asking the country to elect a leader who would be 86 at the end of his tenure, testing the outer boundaries of age and the presidency.”

Lynne Tillman’s Solitary, Raw Memoir of Caring for Her Mother

“53 million Americans are caregivers to a family member. How can an experience so common so often remain in the shadows?”

Anna Altman looks at the situation of “the sandwich generation”: “as a culture, in spite of the fact that, as of 2020, some 53 million Americans consider themselves caregivers to a family member, we continue to have a fairly paltry understanding of what it looks like to care for one’s aging parents.”

Altman focuses on the memoir Mothercare: On Obligation, Love, Death, and Ambivalence by Lynne Tillman, “a book-length essay about the experience of caring for her intelligent, frustrated, withholding, competitive, sometimes cruel mother who, at 86, is suddenly and mysteriously changed and utterly dependent.”

Tillman, Altman writes, “wants anyone in this predicament to be given grace and compassion: ‘I want to say about this situation: It is impossible to get it completely right.’”

The Aging Student Debtors of America

“In an era of declining wages and rising debt, Americans are not aging out of their student loans—they are aging into them.”

In The New Yorker, Eleni Schirmer reports “Americans aged sixty-two and older are the fastest-growing demographic of student borrowers. Of the forty-five million Americans who hold student debt, one in five are over fifty years old. Between 2004 and 2018, student-loan balances for borrowers over fifty increased by five hundred and twelve per cent.”

© 2022 by Mary Daniels Brown

Last Week’s Links

How the Sony Walkman changed everything

Sarah Todd looks at the legacy of the Sony Walkman personal cassette player, which was introduced on July 1, 1979: “the Walkman had a lasting impact, precipitating the rise of MP3 players, and accompanying headphones that allow us to revel in our own auditory worlds anytime, anywhere—for better and for worse.”

Sony cassette recorder

TCM-100B

Cassette Recorder (1978)

“Pressman.” A model that was popular among businessmen as the cassette recorder enabled them to take voice memos and operate it with one hand: record, playback, fast forward, rewind, cue, review, and pause controls were all logically arranged. It also incorporated a skim reading function that played back at 1.5x normal speed. This model was the basis for the first Walkman®— released a year after the launch of this product.

Source: Sony

She Inspired ‘A League of Their Own.’ At 95, She’s Far From Done.

“Maybelle Blair is still dedicated to including women and girls in baseball. And she still loves the “clicketyclack” sound of baseball cleats on her feet.”

From the New York Times, a profile of Maybelle Blair, “one of more than 600 women to join the baseball league, created in 1943 in response to World War II.”

The league folded in 1954 and was brought back to life in the 1992 movie “A League of Their Own.” Amazon Prime will have its own version in a new TV series under the same title in August.

Vietnam ‘Napalm Girl’ gets final burn treatment in Florida 50 years later 

“‘I heard the noise, bup-bup bup-bup, and then suddenly there was fire everywhere around me and I saw the fire all over my arm,’ Kim Phuc said Tuesday about the 1972 bombing.”

Known around the world as “Napalm Girl,” Kim Phuc was just 9-years-old when she was photographed running away after a napalm bomb struck her village in Vietnam in June 1972.

Now 50 years later, Phuc has received her final round of treatment for the pain and scars she suffered that day.

One protein seen as ‘critical factor’ in development of Alzheimer’s disease

It’s always encouraging to see a story such as this one: “A new study suggests how a protein called tau drives the development of Alzheimer’s disease, and researchers anticipate this could lead to more targeted treatments and earlier diagnoses.”

The Six Forces That Fuel Friendship

One of the issues older adults face is the loss of friends caused by moving for retirement and by a decreasing circle of contemporaries. In this summation of The Friendship Files for The Atlantic, Julie Beck writes, “I’ve spent more than three years interviewing friends for “The Friendship Files.” Here’s what I’ve learned.”

Lawmakers consider a residents’ ‘bill of rights’ for seniors in independent living facilities

Independent living facilities for older adults are not subject to the same regulation as assisted living facilities.

A disagreement between residents at a Lacey senior living facility and their management has led some state lawmakers to consider legislation that would create a residents’ bill of rights for senior citizens living in independent facilities. 

“The number of seniors is like a silver tsunami and as you look around, there are new facilities being built everywhere,” Rep. Laurie Dolan, D-Olympia, said. “But because there’s no coordination that facilities have to do the same kinds of things, it’s sort of like the Wild West right now.”

© 2022 by Mary Daniels Brown

Quotation: Older Adults in Literature

Irene was eighty years old, but she didn’t feel eighty. Not just because she was, sprained ankle notwithstanding, a spritely, trim woman, but because it was impossible to feel eighty. Nobody felt eighty. When Irene considered it, she thought that she probably felt somewhere around thirty-five. Forty, maybe. That was a good age to feel, wasn’t it? You knew who you were then. You weren’t still flighty or unsure, but you had not yet had time to harden, to become unyielding.

The truth was that you felt a certain way inside, and while the people who had known you your whole life would probably see you that way, the number of new people who could appreciate you as that person, that inside person, rather than just a collection of the frailties of age, was limited.

A Slow Fire Burning by Paula Hawkins
Book cover: A Slow Fire Burning by Paula Hawkins

Last Week’s Links

Old not Other

Kate Kirkpatrick, tutorial fellow in philosophy and Christian ethics at Regent’s Park College of the University of Oxford, and Sonia Kruks, Danforth Professor of Politics Emerita at Oberlin College in Ohio, write “In Western societies, the shocked realisation that we are growing old often fills us with alarm and even terror.”

The two scholars examine Simone de Beauvoir’s “magisterial study of the topic [old age], La vieillesse (1970) – translated in the UK as Old Age, and in the US as The Coming of Age (1972)” for answers to the question:

What, then, should a society be like, so that all may flourish in their last years of life?

Creating an Aging-Friendly Space

We hear a lot about “aging in place,” a movement to help older adults remain in their homes as long as possible. Here AARP offers offers some advice on how to prepare your home “for your senior years.”

What Good Are Our Memories If We Never Share Them?

“Esther Cohen considers the importance of preserving the experiences we recall, by writing them down and sharing them.”

Scholar and activist ANGELA DAVIS has spent more than 50 years working for social justice. This summer, society started to catch up

This moment is a conjuncture between the COVID-19 crisis and the increasing awareness of the structural nature of racism. Moments like this do arise. They’re totally unpredictable, and we cannot base our organizing on the idea that we can usher in such a moment. What we can do is take advantage of the moment.

Angela Davis

Paul McCartney turns 80: a look back

A pictorial review of the musical career of Sir Paul McCartney in celebration of his 80th birthday.

Dorothy E. Smith, Groundbreaker in Feminist Sociology, Dies at 95

“Starting in the 1960s, she sought to re-center her discipline on the experiences of women, people of color and other marginalized groups.”

I had not heard of Dorothy E. Smith, “a feminist scholar and sociologist whose extensive criticism of her own field led her to establish groundbreaking theories and sub-disciplines that pushed sociology away from its foundations as a male-dominated, male-centered endeavor.” 

11 Romances Featuring Older Couples

I haven’t read any of these novels, but I appreciate the fact that someone—anyone—is interested in focusing on the topic of Older Adults in Literature.

© 2022 by Mary Daniels Brown

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