Quit messing with old people and kids
(No. 46) The pandemic of ageism, by Stephen P. Williams
First, this: Societies that spend more money implementing healthy, happy aging, have better economies.
“A full-blown emergency”
Image created by Ruth Burrows for United Nations Global Call Out To Creatives
I sometimes help an 85 year old relative with computer and phone issues. She was only recently able to get Internet service at her house, and doesn’t have much luck with digital stuff. But she does have 85 years of experience living on this earth while facing some difficult choices and suffering a few terrible losses. She can’t blog or tweet about her life story, but if she could, I’m sure she’d get a lot of followers. She’s got many good friends who try to help her out, some of them middle aged or younger. Lately, they’ve been contacting me to make sure I help her register online for the vaccine. They don’t want her to know they are writing me, because they feel she’d be embarrassed by the attention. It’s a big secret.
I appreciate the love behind their efforts, but I don’t appreciate the condescension. After 85 years, she’s capable of asking for help if she needs it, and it’s ridiculous to hold elaborate conversations about her behind her back. People often think very old people are total dorks. The virus just heightens this nonsense.
Curiously, the virus also seems to increase reverse ageism, as young people in the pandemic are singled out as being uniquely unhelpful, with their unmasked raves, spring breaks, and dorm-room hoedowns. “Why can’t they just care about someone else for a change?” the olds ask.
According to a survey published in the Journals of Gerontology last spring, the pandemic has released a “worldwide and full-blown emergence of ageism and intergenerational division.” The authors call the situation an emergency, and say the divisions are increasing at a time when solidarity between the generations is vitally important. They offer a plethora of platitudinal pablum, for the most part, to fix the problem.
For instance, they tell us not to generalize and categorize people. And spread the fact that we’re all in this together. Sure, these are true, and good etc. But how do you implement these kinds of “changes?”
Here is my single recommendation: Quit telling old people and kids what to do all the time. As if you knew.
Department of Confessions
This guy says life just gets better
I’m introducing a new element to the newsletter: Interviews with interesting people about their aging process. I will speak with young and old alike, and hope to report more from the street than on zoom. But it’s cold this week, and zoom is warm. I interviewed my older brother, Jonathan, about what he feels like at 65. If you’d like to be interviewed about your aging process — at any age — send me a note: firstname.lastname@example.org
A few things to consider
Nike deserves praise for these accessible shoes
I love these new hands-free shoes and the ideas behind them.
Healthy body, healthy mind
Apparently, good living leads to continued good thinking.
I will catch you later. Remember, spring is just around the corner.