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Alix Kates Shulman has been a writer and social activist since the 1960s. Her 14 books include five novels (starting with the best-selling, feminist classic Memoirs of an Ex-Prom Queen), three memoirs about aging, and a biography of anarcho-feminist Emma Goldman. Her essays have appeared in the New York Times, Salon, More, The Nation, and The Guardian, and she has taught at Yale and at the Universities of Hawaii, Colorado, and New York.

 

More Is Possible

More Is Possible
My husband was a sculptor until 2004, when a traumatic brain injury ended his working life. Before that, he’d spend hours each week looking at art; he called New York’s Metropolitan Museum his “temple.”  Read more...


 

How to Use Your Brain in Perpetuity

How to Use Your Brain in Perpetuity
As I learned the hard way eight years ago, when my husband, Scott, began the downward spiral of dementia after suffering a traumatic brain injury, doctors are loath to admit they know little about what causes dementia and nothing about how to prevent, treat or cure it.  Read more...


 

One Benefit of Dementia

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...


 

Could Happen

Could Happen
Before the accident that left him like someone with advanced Alzheimer’s, my husband was an artist. After the severe injuries to his brain's frontal lobes, centers for the "executive functions" that enable us to conceive and carry out plans, he found it difficult to make art. Hoping to get him drawing again, I fixed up an "art table" and, as suggested by an art therapist, sat with him for at least ten minutes a day while he drew.  Read more...


 

The Thriller

The Thriller
The summer I turned 14, I spent a month at the Lake Erie resort town of Cedar Point with a friend whose parents ran a food concession on the boardwalk, which boasted the highest roller coaster in Ohio. It was called The Thriller and I fell in love with it. I hung around it so much that the daytime manager, seeing my passion, eventually allowed me to ride for free in the mornings, when there weren't many customers. One day I decided to see how many consecutive rides I could clock without stopping and rode for two and a half hours straight. Even so, the thrill of the slow clank to the top, followed by the heart-stopping plunge to the bottom, continued unabated.  Read more...


 

The Dance of Experience and Time

The Dance of Experience and Time
Before Scott, my beloved husband, fell from a sleeping loft, sustaining the devastating traumatic brain injury that transformed our lives, I divided experience into two distinct kinds, both of which any satisfying life depends upon. The first consists of those pleasurable, transitory experiences, often sensual—like eating, sex, art—that quickly vanish. The second is the kind of stable, future-oriented experience you build upon—work accomplished, knowledge accumulated, habit inculcated, skills expanded, resources conserved.  Read more...


 

The Pleasures and Perils of Aging

The Pleasures and Perils of Aging
Originally published in the Women’s Review of Books

British feminist Lynne Segal’s Out of Time: The Pleasures and Perils of Aging (2013) is a thoughtful meditation on aging in the West. Shortly after I began reading it, I was walking on a crowded Manhattan sidewalk on my way to see the new Woody Allen movie when a guy on a bike plowed his way among the pedestrians. I shouted out that he shouldn’t be riding on the sidewalk but in the street. “Seriously?” he said, peering down at me; then he examined my face and spat out, “Old hag!” This was a first for me, so it took a moment before I realized my opportunity and shouted back “Ageist!” I doubt that the young man cycling away knew the word, if he even heard me, but for a moment I felt that old activist rush of triumph all the same.  Read more...


 

Age, Trauma and Contentment

Age, Trauma and Contentment
Unaware of his accident or his dementia, my husband attributes his lack of short-term memory—the result of a traumatic brain injury that left him, at 75, like someone with advanced Alzheimer's—simply to aging.  Read more...


 

How to Survive in a Hospital and Fire a Doctor

How to Survive in a Hospital and Fire a Doctor
After six weeks in a Maine ICU, my husband, Scott, who suffered traumatic brain injury (TBI) after falling from a sleeping loft, was flown to the NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City for rehab.  Read more...


 

The Accident

The Accident
One day it happens, the dreaded event that will change your life, the more ominous because you don't know what form it will take or when it will occur. To me it happened on July 22, 2004, at two a.m. on a Maine coastal island in a remote, seaside cabin, with no electricity, plumbing or road, when my beloved husband fell nine feet from a sleeping loft and injured his brain.  Read more...


 

The Consoling Power of Art

The Consoling Power of Art
There are an estimated 42 million unpaid family caregivers in this country (including me), not counting the millions more caring for chronically ill or disabled children, so it’s a shock to learn that the first anthology of poems and short stories about caregiving has just been published in the United States. Not that there aren’t hundreds of helpful nonfiction books, journals, newsletters, websites, blogs, as well as memoirs and novels on the subject, covering every category of patient or need. But a single-volume collection of outstanding short fiction and poetry, reflecting many different takes on this widespread, life-altering experience, has until now been missing, leaving an empty space in our hungry consciousness. Living in the Land of Limbo: Fiction and Poetry about Family Caregiving (Vanderbilt, 2014), Carol Levine’s selection of fiction and poetry about caregiving by some of the most accomplished writers of our time, is an excellent start to filling it.  Read more...


 

The Love of My Life

The Love of My Life
I am inaugurating my new blog for Silver Century ten years to the month since the accident that catapulted my husband into dementia at 2 a.m. on July 22, 2004. Ten years! Sometimes it feels like yesterday, sometimes like a lifetime ago, that Scott fell nine feet from a sleeping loft to the distant, hardwood floor, suffering the traumatic brain injury that brought to an abrupt end our equal marriage. In that moment, my partner, the love of my life, became permanently disabled, and I became his caregiver.   Read more...


 

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Our Mission

The Silver Century Foundation promotes a positive view of aging. The Foundation challenges entrenched and harmful stereotypes, encourages dialogue between generations, advocates planning for the second half of life, and raises awareness to educate and inspire everyone to live long, healthy, empowered lives.

Notable Quote

"It is not by muscle, speed, or physical dexterity that great things are achieved, but by reflection, force of character, and judgment; in these qualities old age is usually not poorer, but is even richer."

Cicero (106-43 BC)