This is the second in a four-part series on your amazing, aging brain.
More good news: midlife crisis and the empty nest syndrome don’t exist. There is no scientific research to support them. [Read more…]
This is the first in a series of four posts celebrating the aging brain.
I’m looking for my glasses, but I can’t find them because they’re on my head. So I find my backups and try to put them on, but discover I’m already wearing a pair. [Read more…]
I feel bad for Demi, melting down and all. According to the tabs, she’s distraught over turning fifty. It must be horrifying when Ashton Kutcher takes a good look at you and realizes you’re no longer young, and then your life is over. Because what’s next, granny underwear and black whiskers that spring from your chin overnight? You might as well be dead.
Here is where being a movie star doesn’t help you. Demi might have a villa in France but even she can’t stop the clock.
What a surprise it would be for her to learn that average people like me are facing the very same aging process. Of course, we’re not making a career of having a preternaturally youthful body, but still, it’s hard. For Demi it’s hard because she’s in an unforgiving market. For the rest of us, it’s hard because we have so few cultural role models. Okay, there’s Hillary, she of the big brain and ample backside, who after bringing countless world leaders to heel will soon amble pantsuited and serene into retirement, excited about entering the new phase of her life. That’s a nice thought.
For any of us, moving into menopause and beyond is big. We should maybe take a sec to acknowledge just how big. Think of the other transitions we celebrate: first word, first steps, turning sixteen and driving, getting married, first jobs, kids – we celebrate all these moments. They are achievements! Accomplishments! Positive developments!
Then comes perimenopause, menopause, turning fifty…what rituals do we engage in to mark these transitions? We give each other black balloons and wrapping paper. With a big laugh and a nudge, we spring a wheelchair on the birthday girl at the office party. Ha. Ha.
This whole stupid cultural denigration of the great accomplishment of aging really pisses me off.
If I had my way, we’d call all the post-menopausal women up on stage and hand them an award for getting to this point in life without losing their minds. I mean, think of all we’ve done by this age. We’ve sublimated our natures to a guy (maybe more than one) so we could get pregnant and have a peaceful nest in which to raise our babies, while holding down fulltime jobs and managing said nest. We’ve been served up thirty, forty, fifty years of magazine covers at the grocery store telling us how we can be hotter, cuter, thinner, sexier, better cooks and lovers, more organized, and better balancers of work and life – and we read the articles and tried, oh Lord, how we tried. What did we get instead? A sense of failure, a sense that we’re not cutting it. Oh, and maybe also breast cancer, fibroids, prolapse, stress incontinence, hot flashes, wrinkles and whiskers. We learned to deal with increasingly frequent deaths and illnesses, we held our girlfriends’ hands at their husbands’ funerals, we shrugged and said the hell with it.
Maybe that’s our mistake. Maybe we should make a bigger deal of the courage inherent in aging thoughtfully, gratefully, sublimely. We could talk about how we’re not phased anymore about the changes to our bods, or the losses we suffer. We could revel in the maturity, self-knowledge and sense of “been there, done that,” that keep us on an even keel when younger women would be freaking out.
Those are the things we should be talking about. There’s something ahead to be excited about: power and grace. This is our reward for getting old. Maybe if we talked about this, young women like Demi wouldn’t be so freaked out because they would see aging as something less to be afraid of, and something more to aspire to.
As we age, we become invisible to retailers. That’s what Darryle Pollack of the Huffington Post is saying, and she’s not the only one. Quoting her article, “Though our numbers are growing faster than we can count, we don’t count in the eyes of image-makers and marketers. When we reach a certain age, we’re toast — burnt toast.” She cites an article in the NY Post, with this aggravating factoid:About a year ago, executives at CNBC were alarmed to discover that they’d suddenly lost one-third of their audience. They couldn’t figure it out; news programming, as a rule, attracts the 25- to 54-year-old demographic. So the network delved into the data with the Nielsen Company and made a startling finding: That missing one-third was, in fact, still there. They were no longer being counted as viewers, because they’d turned 55.
It’s not that I’m insulted. I mean, I am, but the larger point is, what business can afford to ignore so many dollars and such a large and growing segment of the economy? Ad exec Lisa Thompson of Firespring gets it, though. She thinks we’re actually worth pursuing, and blogs here about how incredibly short-sighted it is for businesses to ignore our demographic.
My take? As an older person, I remember going to buy a car and the dealer ignoring me unless the conversation turned to colors. That certainly changed, and this will, too. In the meantime, look for age-responsive advertisers, and talk it up when you find a business that’s smart enough to respect us. Ultimately, businesses will notice.
That’s the question asked by life coach John Agno here. I was inspired to pick up the thread.
Every age group, every industry, every lobby is going to be required to give up something for the future of the country. If you were going to give up something, what would it be?
Would Bill Gates or Warren Buffet notice if they couldn’t draw monthly SS checks?
Would giant multinational industrial-agricultural complexes (formerly called “farms”) forego crop subsidies?
Would the Pentagon give up the latest multi-billion-dollar surgical strike plaything?
Here’s another opportunity: greater transparency in the health industry would cut costs. Of course, lobbyists (and bought politicians) sneer and say, “Consumers aren’t going to shop around for the best surgeon when they have a heart attack!” Of course not. But there are other things we could shop around for, if we had the chance. Routine testing for example: mammograms, colonoscopies, treadmill – you get the picture.
Recently, I needed abdominal surgery. I had to get a CT scan, and my copay was 100% (I buy my own insurance and it’s the best I can qualify for in the current market; I am not on Medicare.) The cost was $2850 out of pocket. There’s another hospital forty miles away that is also highly regarded, and I have PPO insurance so I could have gone there for the test. I tried to find out what they charged for a CT scan, but they couldn’t tell me. I pursued it from department to department, and here’s what I ended up with: The cost depends on which doctor is on staff that day, and what technician, and what their personal pay rates are, and how long it takes, and…and…and I gave up.
So just try to find out what they charge. You can’t, and maybe you don’t want to. For example, if you have “regular” insurance (e.g. group coverage through an employer, or Medicare) you may not feel the urgency of this issue, but the way things are going in health care, you soon will.
“Cut earmarks! Cut waste and fraud!” Sure. That’s always a good idea, but it amounts to about 1% of the problem. Medicare, Social Security, and defense are the only cuts that will matter.
I worked for thirty years in a corporate setting. I paid into Social Security. Shouldn’t I insist I get mine? Well, I did pay in, and it helped cover Mom and Dad in their golden years. And I got real lucky and ended up at this later part of my life being blessed financially. So if they want to do means testing – ouch! ouch! ouch! – alright, darn it. Cut my “entitlement.” Let the folks who weren’t as lucky or blessed have my share.
Remember the 1960s and 1970s, fellow Boomers? We were strong, we defied the status quo, we defied the older generation who seemed so calcified, so sure of themselves, and so unwilling to bend. Now we’re that generation. I know that, with the Great Recession, there’s way too much pain out there right now, and I don’t want to add to it, but if you are lucky enough to be getting by comfortably, what might you do, fellow Boomer?