Armed and Aging: Should Older Americans Face Tighter Gun Controls?
Richard Swift grew up in the era of John Wayne and Gene Autry, cinematic cowboys whose armed antics drove his daydreams. He had a BB gun years before the first whiskers sprouted on his chin. At 12, he got a .22-caliber rifle that he’d lug around the hills and fields of his rural southeastern Pennsylvania burg, shooting targets and learning to hunt. Read more...
Planning to Live a Long Life? Think Ahead
Are you a go-go or a go-slow? Or maybe even a no-go?
It’s not some new Dr. Seuss book, but another way to describe the various stages of growing older. Barring a catastrophic event, older adults typically fall into one of five major life stages that take them from active and healthy to completely dependent on others. Read more...
What Is Old Age For?
Old age is humanity's greatest invention, and on an even deeper level, it invented us. Old age transformed the way our most distant ancestors gave birth, reared their young, lived together, and fed themselves. Later it propelled the development of culture, language, and society. Read more...
Three-Generation Households: Are They History?
Nestled within the American psyche is a nostalgic image of a three-generation household: an older couple sitting by the fire with grandchildren playing about their feet while the children’s parents look on fondly. Yet in the 21st century, so few families include live-in grandparents that some social critics have accused Americans of abandoning the older generation. Surely, they scold, grown children usually took in their aging parents in the past. Read more...
One Benefit of Dementia
Sweetheart that he is, my 80-year-old husband is usually very cooperative, despite severe dementia resulting from a traumatic brain injury suffered five years ago. But for the last year or so, he has recoiled from anyone, including me, who approaches him with a sharp instrument, making such normal grooming acts as nail clipping and beard trimming, as well as necessary blood drawing, all but impossible. Consequently, his toenails were so long, they were like knives, one even cutting into the neighboring toe until it bled. Read more...
Six Questions about My New Manifesto Against Ageism
You want to reframe the way American culture sees age and aging. What got you started on this path?
About eight years ago I began interviewing people over 80 for a project called “So when are you going to retire?” and reading about longevity. It didn’t take long to realize that almost everything I thought I knew about aging was wrong. I had no idea that people are happiest at the beginnings and the ends of their lives, for example. That the vast majority of Americans over 65 live independently. That the older people get, the less afraid they are of dying. Read more...
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