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

Last Week’s Links

Increased physical activity lowers ‘preventable’ deaths in older adults, study finds

Small increases in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity among older adults in the United States prevents up to an estimated 275,000 deaths annually, a study published Monday JAMA Internal Medicine found.

When the Last Thing You Want to Do Is Exercise

As a companion piece to the article above, Christie Aschwanden suggests some “ways you can find inspiration and maybe even a little glee in your daily workout.”

A 73-year-old knew she was being scammed. So she lured the scammer to her home and had him arrested, police say.

Lots of people think it’ll be easy to scam us older adults. A couple of them met their match in Jean.

As pleasing as this story is, PLEASE DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME without contacting local law enforcement before you make any arrangements to meet the scammers. Also, don’t volunteer your address, bank, or any other personal information until you’ve arranged for reinforcements.

I’m 72. So What?

“Catherine Texier pushes back against society’s dated ideas about older women, claiming her place among those who are determined to remain vibrant and relevant in the last decades of their lives.”

My generation is caught between two tectonic forces: the impulse to live full throttle till the end — as long as our health can handle it, the way we chose to live since our 20s — and the push from society to put us back into our place and nudge us towards the nursing home, so that the next generations can take over.

Conflicts between nursing home residents are often chalked up to dementia – the real problem is inadequate care and neglect

Some sobering information from Eilon Caspi, assistant research professor of health, intervention, and policy, at the University of Connecticut:

Resident-to-resident incidents are defined by researchers as “negative, aggressive and intrusive verbal, physical, material and sexual interactions between residents” that can cause “psychological distress and physical harm in the recipient.”

These incidents are prevalent in U.S. nursing homes. But they are largely overlooked by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the federal agency overseeing care in approximately 15,000 nursing homes across the country. Consequently, such incidents remain untracked, understudied and largely unaddressed.

Caspi emphasizes that the patient with dementia is not to blame for such incidents. Rather, the facility has the responsibility of adequately supervising all residents.

7 New and Forthcoming Books by Writers Over 60

J.R. Ramakrishnan profiles some “fully grown-up writers with thoughtful, diverse books out in early 2022. Their subjects are both fiction and nonfiction.”

Why I Will Never, Ever Go Gray

One of the topics that arose over the long course of isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic was people who, unable to get to the salon for a touch-up, discovered the joy of letting their hair go gray. But here Norma Eisen, who had her first gray hairs at age 13, presents the opposite view: “Though some of my friends were flaunting silver locks, I still dyed my hair. Even when the stars looked more gorgeous than ever by going au naturel.”

Don Wilson, Who Gave the Ventures Their Distinctive Rhythm, Dies at 88

Don Wilson, co-founder of the instrumental rock group the Ventures, whose twanging, hard-driving sound, propelled by his dynamic rhythm guitar, led to hits like “Walk — Don’t Run” and helped shape the surf music of the early 1960s as well as influencing generations of guitarists, died on Saturday [January 22, 2022] in Tacoma, Wash. He was 88.

© 2022 by Mary Daniels Brown

Last Week’s Links

End-of-life conversations can be hard, but your loved ones will thank you

Deborah Carr, professor of sociology at Boston University, writes “most people dread thinking and talking about when, how or under what conditions they might die.”

Although most people know they should talk about these issues with loved ones, most don’t actually have the difficult discussion, Carr reports. “But everyone should talk about and prepare for death precisely because we want to minimize our own suffering at the end of life, and soften the anguish of loved ones left behind.”

Here Carr offers some guidance about both what to talk about and how to initiate the discussion.

In 1973, ‘Soylent Green’ envisioned the world in 2022. It got a lot right.

George Bass discusses how the film Soylent Green, released in 1973 and set “in the then-far-off future of 2022,” is “eerily prescient” in its portrayal of what is now our present.

The Federal Writers’ Project: Exploring “The Greatest Literary Project in History”

“Now, some in Congress are looking to the FWP as a model for a new jobs program for writers,” writes Clare Barnett. Read her history of the original Federal Writers’ Project, developed to employ writers in “the biggest public works program in American history” during the Great Depression.

Pickleball: The Rules, Rise, and Reach of a Surging Sport

Kenny Ducey reports on pickleball, “the racquet sport that has taken the world by storm over the past few years.” He defines core players as those who play at least 8 times over a year; these players “skew older, with 54% of them aged 55 and up.”

Janis Ian Lets Her Music Speak Her Mind (One Last Time)

“At 70, the singer-songwriter who has always been unafraid of difficult subjects is releasing a final album, ‘The Light at the End of the Line.’”

With all the recent obituaries of musical greats from the Boomer era, I was glad to find a story about one who is still performing.

The COVID-19 pandemic has inspired new health habits for these 4 scholars – here’s what they put into practice and why

Four academics discuss the habits they have developed to help them cope with the stress of the ongoing pandemic.

© 2022 by Mary Daniels Brown

Last Week’s Links

8 Things You Didn’t Know Social Security Could Do for You

over its history, the Social Security Administration (SSA) has added numerous special services to help customers (that’s you and me) deal with pressing medical, familial and financial issues. Here are some of the lesser-known things Social Security can do for you.

Telehealth Became a Lifeline for Older Americans. But It Still Has Glitches

Medicare has extended coverage of remote health care. While telehealth removed barriers to care for many during the pandemic, some say there is more to be done.

I was always curious’: Indian woman, 104, fulfils dream of learning to read

I’ll never apologize for loving to come across stories like this.

What the Stoics Understood About Death (And Can Teach Us)

In this excerpt from his book Breakfast with Seneca: A Stoic Guide to the Art of Living, David Fideler writes, “Unlike many other countries, the United States has accomplished a world-​class disappearing act when it comes to keeping older adults (and any other reminders of death) out of sight and out of mind.”

Here he describes how European cultures handle aging and reminds us, “A Stoic wants to live well—​and living well means dying well, too. . . . In other words, as the final act of living, a good death is characterized by acceptance and gratitude.”

Why Do Women Sprout Chin Hairs as They Age?

Certainly I’m not the only one who has asked herself this question

How to Use Your Phone’s Privacy-Protection Tools

t’s always good to keep up with articles like this, since our phone settings can be changed every time there’s a new operating system update. Since these updates usually happen automatically, it’s a good idea to check these settings periodically.

The Rise Of Nannacore: Insta’s Silver Influencers Are Keeping Things Fresh

Scarlett Conlon discusses “the wardrobes of senior style icons” as seen on Instagram.

Lucille Ball on the Big Screen, the Small Screen and Offscreen

Have you seen the movie Being the Ricardos, starring Nicole Kidman as Lucille Ball? I haven’t seen it yet, so if you have, I’d love to hear your reaction.

See you next year!

© 2021 by Mary Daniels Brown

Last Week’s Links

What We Think We Know About Metabolism May Be Wrong

Generally accepted wisdom about metabolism and weight gain used to tell us that people began to put on weight in middle age as their metabolism slowed down. But new research suggests that we need to rethink that hypothesis. 

“By combining efforts from a half dozen labs collected over 40 years, [investigators] had sufficient information to ask general questions about changes in metabolism over a lifetime.” As for metabolism in middle age and after: “From age 20 to 60, it holds steady,” and “after age 60, it declines by about 0.7 percent a year.”

For Seniors Especially, Covid Can Be Stealthy

“With infections increasing once more, and hospitalization rising among older adults, health experts offer a timely warning: a coronavirus infection can look different in older patients.”

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO LIVE FOREVER?

“Today, as humans continue to lust after any number of material and immaterial objects, scientists are researching radical life extension technology like never before. Amazing, right? Let’s see. Read on to learn about the great, the weird and the downright costly behind our quest for eternal existence.”

The usual caution pertains here: Be careful what you wish for.

“It’s Your Funeral!” So Throw Yourself the Best Going-Away Party Ever

book cover: It's Your Funeral! Plan the Celebration of a Lifetime--Before it's too Late

Gevera Bert Piedmont—who apparently hasn’t taken to heart the previous article—begins this book review with the statement “— sorry to break it to you — everyone is going to die.” The book under review is It’s Your Funeral! by Kathy Benjamin. The book’s subtitle is “Plan the celebration of a lifetime—before it’s too late.”

“If that sounds sad and depressing, I assure you, it is not,” Piedmont continues. “Benjamin makes it entertaining, educational and even funny at times.” She says the book contains a section where readers can “make notes on how they want to handle their own demise.”

4 Simple Phrases to Stop Anxious Thoughts

Everything I’ve been reading about the surging delta variant of COVID-19 suggests that we’re having to revise our earlier hope that we were emerging from the pandemic. If you’re experiencing anxious thoughts, licensed clinical social worker Hilary Jacobs Hendel has some advice for self-care.

Please do not hesitate to seek professional help if anxiety begins to overwhelm you.

Podcast: Traveling While Aging

Admission: I don’t listen to podcasts. If I’m going to spend time listening to something, it’s going to be an audiobook.

So I haven’t listened to this podcast. However, the subject may interest you. I’m pretty sure you can listen right from this webpage, without having to download anything.

Critical Race Theory

Critical race theory continues to be a hot news topic. Here’s a succinct explanation of what it is, how it developed, and how the term is currently being used “as a Procrustean epithet that can be made to fit any argument.”

© 2021 by Mary Daniels Brown

Last Week’s Links

Her Kind Of Blue: Joni Mitchell’s Masterpiece At 50

Ann Powers reports for NPR on Joni Mitchell’s album Blue, which came out in 1971, with an emphasis on its storytelling:

the creative process is as mundane as it is miraculous. It’s dribs and drabs and then a rush and then back to staring at the ceiling, wondering if the rush will come back. Blue is an album about working through something — a heartache, people say. But it’s just as much a document of the process of sharing that heartache, an inquiry into personal storytelling itself. Until Blue, Mitchell was getting there, but she hadn’t wholly figured out what she alone could say. That’s because what each person alone can say is, in its pure state, incommunicable. Stories are what get left behind as their tellers keep living and evolving. They’re always inconclusive.

The Secrets of ‘Cognitive Super-Agers’

From Jane E. Brody, for The New York Times:

Fewer than 1 percent of Americans reach the age of 100, and new data from the Netherlands indicate that those who achieve that milestone with their mental faculties still intact are likely to remain so for their remaining years, even if their brains are riddled with the plaques and tangles that are the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease.

Brody reports on research about how people who are “physically able to reach 100 may also be able to remain mentally healthy.”

10% Of People Will Likely Experience Post-Pandemic Growth—Here’s What It Means

Neuroscientist and psychiatrist Daniel Amen explains that after experiencing trauma, some people develop PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) while others exhibit PTG (post-traumatic growth). Since COVID-19 has certainly been a time of trauma, he predicts that “the lucky ones who will experience post-pandemic growth.” 

He offers advice on changes you can make to nurture PTG.

Why Introverts May Find It Hard When Life Returns to Normal

Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Ph.D., considers what post-pandemic life will be like for introverts, most of whom have become comfortable with enforced social isolation. She first looks at personality-based research (most of it conducted on a college campus before the pandemic hit) that found that people tend to choose geographic locations on the basis of their personalities: “Participants higher in extraversion were the ones that researchers encountered in central, less secluded spots on campus. Those high in introversion, by contrast, set themselves up in quieter spaces away from the campus hub.”

On the basis of this research, she encourages introverted people to search for quiet personal spaces where they can seek occasional respite once they begin moving back into society.

Poor sleep linked to dementia and early death, study finds

CNN reports on recent research that found older adults “who have significant difficulty falling asleep and who experience frequent night awakenings” are at increased risk of dementia or earlier-than-normal death. The article ends with some suggestions of how you can reduce your risk by taking steps to avoid sleep deprivation.

Death is Both an Event and a Process

The loss of people we know tends to get more frequent as we get older. Understanding grief, and how it works, can help us get through those hard times. Writer Brandy L. Schillace explains: “Death is not a thing, but things: a process of emotions, states of being, suddenly shifting relationships.” She encourages thinking of grief as “a path, a journey, a process.”

Our need to face death and its associated grieving is more pronounced now, in the time of COVID-19, than usual. This is the first in a series of articles Schillace plans “to try and better understand death not as the end of life, but as part of it — even in these changing and uncertain times.”

© 2021 by Mary Daniels Brown

Last Week’s Links

Their romance was new when covid hit. Both in their 90s, they snuck around ‘like teenagers.’

When their retirement community enforced the COVID-19 regulations for isolation,  Bill Biega, age 98, and Iris Ivers, 91, had to make a quick decision: follow the regulations and stay separated, or cohabit and face the pandemic together. They decided that Iris would move in with Bill. More than a year later, they’re still together.

“Even in your 90s, it’s never too late to have a love life,” Bill says.

How Long Can We Live?

“As medical and social advances mitigate diseases of old age and prolong life, the number of exceptionally long-lived people is increasing sharply.” The United Nations estimates that there will be 25 million centenarians in the world by 2100. 

This article examines the various research approaches into aging and how to prolong lives. 

Affluent Americans rush to retire in new ‘life-is-short’ mindset

In an article from Bloomberg reprinted in the Seattle Times, Michael Sasso declares, “About 2.7 million Americans age 55 or older are contemplating retirement years earlier than they’d imagined because of the pandemic, government data show.” 

He goes on to report that “Early retirements, whether desired or forced, will deprive the labor market of some of its most productive workers and have an impact on the economic recovery that is still too early to evaluate.”

The ‘gray divorce’ trend: As the Gates split shows, more older couples are getting divorced. Here’s why

CNN uses the news that Bill and Melinda Gates are getting divorced after 27 years of marriage as the springboard for a discussion of the upward trend for toward divorce by older adults. 

Johnny Bench Misses His Hall of Fame Friends

I’ve been a baseball fan all my life and have been particularly struck by the number of former players who have died recently. This article focuses on Johnny Bench, the longtime catcher for the Cincinnati Reds. “Bench knew, played with or played against all of the 10 Hall of Famers who died in the past year.”

If you remember watching those men play, this article will tug at your heart strings, as it did mine.

© 2021 by Mary Daniels Brown

Last Week’s Links

The Girl in the Kent State Photo

If you’re old enough to remember the photo above, this article might interest you. I don’t think I ever knew that the girl in the center was only 14 at the time.

My college graduation (Boston University) was canceled because of the killings at Kent State. We were in the middle of final-exam week. Exams already taken would be included in final grades, but the rest of exams were called off. Those of us living in the residence halls were told to move out within the next couple of days.

COVID-19 Vaccines Could Unlock Treatments for 5 Other Deadly Diseases

Research often leads to serendipitous, seemingly unrelated discoveries. This article explains how the COVID-19 vaccines work and why scientists hope their development can yield new treatments for other diseases, including HIV, Parkinson’s disease, and cancer.

Some young women embraced their gray hair during the pandemic. They might not go back.

And here’s a story of a different kind of serendipitous discovery. Maura Judkis, age 34 at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, carefully watched “the silver stripe that expanded every week where I parted my hair.”

Then she discovered the Silver Sisters, an online group of women who were letting their dyed hair grow out and their natural silver (the term they prefer over gray) hair grow in. “The Silver Sisters don’t just accept the inevitable, they embrace it,” Judkis writes.

The process not only allowed her to save about $1,000 annually at the salon but also prompted some self-evaluation: “Confidence with gray hair and comfort with aging are not necessarily the same thing . . . The pandemic was an opportunity to reflect on what we’re really afraid of underneath the hair dye and anti-aging cream, which is mortality.”

Seattle launches second firefighter-social worker team to cover U District, Ballard

Discussion has been going on for a while now about how society can change its emergency response to mental health crises. Here’s how Seattle is changing its response to “non-emergency calls about substance abuse, mental health, medical problems and other issues that don’t require an ambulance ride.”

Looking Forward to Your 170th Birthday

Annie Murphy Paul reviews the book Ageless: The New Science of Getting Older Without Getting Old by Andrew Steele. Paul writes that Steele “relies heavily on examples from the animal kingdom, such as the Galápagos tortoise, which dwells for the many decades of its life in an enviable state known as ‘negligible senescence.’”

But, Paul argues, Ageless contains a major flaw: “Steele does not begin to grapple with the deeper implications of the project he champions so enthusiastically.” Because of this flaw, she calls the book “technically impressive but morally and emotionally shallow.”

Zoom bombings that target marginalized people spark demands for legal protections

With the COVID-19 pandemic, our retirement community has jumped aboard the Zoom bandwagon for social meetings, classes, and other enrichment activities. But my husband and I have declined to participate because we had heard so many stories about how insecure and subject to hacking Zoom is. This article gives some examples.

© 2021 by Mary Daniels Brown

Last Week’s Links

There’s No Real Reason to Eat 3 Meals a Day

“Your weird pandemic eating habits are probably fine.”

Of the many aspects of daily living that the COVID-19 pandemic has rejiggered, eating patterns probably rank high on the list. Amanda Mull, staff writer for The Atlantic, describes how she came up with her notion of Big Meal.

A Model and Her Norman Rockwell Meet Again

“The illustrator’s paintings told his stories. Now a teenage subject reveals her own, 67 years later.”

Here’s an interesting story for those of us who grew up with Norman Rockwell’s covers for The Saturday Evening Post.

They can only hold hands, but for Britain’s elderly, first touch with a relative ‘means everything’

A year of pandemic isolation protocols has left us numb to how this disease has changed our lives. This is a heartwarming story of how people are beginning to get some of their humanity back.

Finding Your Voice After 50

“While many manuscripts worthy of publication land on the desks of 20-something-year-old agents, a great majority are written by women over the age of 50 and targeted to a more mature reader,” writes Heidi McCrary. 

For aspiring writers over 50, McCrary, “a woman 50+ . . . looking forward to the second half of my own story,” has four pieces of advice.

Friends by Robin Dunbar review – how important are your pals?

Rachel Cooke reviews the book Friends by Robin Dunbar, which concludes that “the quality of our relationships determines our health, happiness and chance of a long life.”

Cooke notes, “Dunbar could not have known that his book would be published in a time of such loneliness.” 

Final thoughts

“Do deathbed regrets give us a special insight into what really matters in life? There are good reasons to be sceptical”

Neil Levy, professor of philosophy at Macquarie University in Sydney and senior research fellow at the Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics at the University of Oxford, examines the concept of deathbed regrets. In order to find out what really matters in life, he says, one method is to ask the dying what they most regret. “There’s very little systematic research on this question, but there’s some unsystematic research,” he writes. 

Read why Levy says, “I’m not convinced that the reported regrets of the dying provide us with reasons to think them valuable.”

© 2021 by Mary Daniels Brown

Last Week’s Links

The Literature of Elder Care is Often About Shifting Power Dynamics

As people live longer, adults frequently face “elder-care responsibility.” 

“An important facet of these relationships, which often appears in fiction and nonfiction works, is the shifting power dynamic between older adults and their adult children, particularly in the United States and other predominately white Western countries,” writes Ellyn A. Lem. In this article Lem looks at how these relationships play out in literature by Shakespeare, A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley, Let Me Be Frank with You by Richard Ford, Days of Awe by Lauren Fox, several works of nonfiction, and several films. 

How to Embrace Uncertainty, Even If You’re Not Sure What Will Happen Next

Not only are we dealing with our usual sources of uncertainty, but then there’s the whole global pandemic, where we’re trying to stop the spread of a virus we have never seen in humans before. We’re not just in uncharted waters—we’re scrambling to stay afloat. As it turns out, there are ways to more effectively deal with feelings of uncertainty, and embrace what’s next with some level of confidence (even if it’s very low).

Dr. Elizabeth Yuko, a bioethicist and adjunct professor of ethics at Fordham University, offers “two strategies for handling uncertainty in a healthier way.”

The Museum Where Racist and Oppressive Statues Go to Die

“Germany has found ways to display problematic monuments without elevating them.” Daniela Blei reports on the job of the Citadel Museum in the Berlin suburb of Spandau, which “aims to contextualize the past, putting uncomfortable realities on display in productive, educational, and sometimes challenging ways.”

Whether you are a night owl or early bird may affect how much activity you get during the day

I am definitely a night owl. When I was in college, I discovered that I worked better if I stayed up studying until about 2:00 AM, then slept until about 10:00. Because I went to a huge university with lots of class offerings, I was able to take almost all my classes between 1:00 and 6:00 PM. Unfortunately, after graduating from college, I realized that the rest of the world doesn’t work that way. Very few workplaces accommodate a night owl’s preferred schedule, and once I had a child who had to be gotten up and out for school, any possibility of catering to my own schedule went out the front door.

Because of my own experience, I’ve been interested in relatively recent research into the differences between early birds and night owls. This article reports on various chronotypes, the “master clocks” in our brains that determine how our bodies respond to the time of day. Recent research out of Finland found that “among both men and women, the morning types and many of the day types moved significantly more than the evening types, even when the researchers controlled for people’s health, professions, socioeconomic status and other factors.”

The conclusion: “Overall, the study’s findings suggest that late risers may want to monitor how frequently they move.”

How to not fear your death

Sam Dresser suggests “several philosophically inspired reasons not to be fearful of your own death.” 

In addition to the philosophical insights offered her, the article includes some links and references to use if you want to dig more deeply into this topic. 

One Twitter Account’s Quest to Proofread The New York Times

The former English teacher and copy editor in me could not resist this article. Overall, not just in particular news sources, I’ve been appalled by all the examples I constantly find in publications (both print and digital) that make me groan, “If only you’d had a copy editor take a look at this . . . .”

© 2020 by Mary Daniels Brown

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