This woman should divorce her family

divorce_cake_stockWSJ  – April 22nd – A woman writes that her daughter is receiving her doctoral degree on the same day her son is getting married. Read the article here. They set the wedding date before they knew the exact date of “her event.” The daughter wasn’t consulted. And to add insult to injury, her role in the wedding involves tending the guest book.

Sue Shellenbarger, who has the job I’d love in my next life – writing about careers and  family – consulted a family therapist and a wedding etiquette expert.

The etiquette expert says, essentially, let her vent and then “give her a hug and ask her what she thinks you should do. She may by this point be able to see that the wedding should go on as planned. If not, give her time.”

The expert does admit that “close siblings usually receive a bigger honor than tending the guest book.” (more…)

Stereotypes of Aging: Sylvestor Stallone cartoon is NOT funny

Stereotypes of aging got reinforced with this photo that got uploaded to Facebook today. I wrote :

“Another ageist stereotype. The man in the cartoon isn’t a 67-year old. Many – perhaps most – people in their late 60s do not need help. A lot of people in their 80s could dash up those steps. We don’t make fun of Asian, gay or black people. Why older folks?”

The response was predictable: “Perhaps we ought to have a sense of humor about our own health problems.”

So I wrote again:
“The danger of laughing at “our aches and pains” is that we tend to attribute health issues to aging when they’re more likely to be related to activity, food or side effects of medication. 
“The problem is, when you encourage people to laugh at older people, then ALL older people won’t be taken seriously when they apply for a job or tell the doctors “No thanks, I don’t want that test.”
“The price of ‘cute’ is being treated like a child or a puppy.
 
“It’s like black people and watermelon jokes. Or jokes about women drivers, which used to be considered appropriate. It seems harmless till you realize the hidden message.”
badcartoononaging

Virtual Villages For Retirees: Why?

Today’s New York Times has an article on retirees who form “virtual villages” to combat loneliness and get things done.

Frankly, I don’t get it. If you live in a city, you already have a virtual village.

Some things are free. You can get groceries delivered to your door. I don’t take any meds but I could find someone to deliver them if I needed to. Besides Fresh Direct, we have InstaCart (which will do drug store runs) and Task Rabbit.

Some things cost money. You can take classes all over town. You don’t need a “senior” approved class. I live near a world-class pottery studio and am a fast bus ride way from all kinds of art classes, comedy classes … anything a person of any age might want.

Some thing are free. Many community colleges and universities allow people over a certain age to take or audit classes for free.

I belong to a regular gym. I take classes. Sometimes I can’t do all the moves – not because I’m old, in most cases, but because I didn’t do enough gymnastics as a child. No problem. Few people of any age can do all of the moves and all the instructors will suggest modifications. I also work out on my own with weights. I started working with a trainer just over two years ago, when I had an injury and couldn’t find a competent physical therapist.

My city has tons of Meetup groups. They don’t ask your age. If you don’t want to go to a movie alone, join a group based on your interest, not your age.

We also have tons of opportunities to be useful with volunteerism – everything from tour guiding to animal rescue.

If I lived in the suburbs, I’d need a car, which costs $5-10,000 a year. Most cities have amenities for people over 65. Lots of things are free or almost-free, including food delivery.

Often you can get things free, too. I sometimes volunteer to usher for plays because if I don’t like the play, I can always say, “Well, at least I didn’t pay $50 and up to be annoyed.”

Mostly what bothers me is, why are these villages for retirees? Most retirees are healthy and able-bodied. Why  are they subjected to stereotypes of aging?

In fact, I’d like to ask them,  “Why retire?” I’ve tried a few times and got totally bored. I’m too busy to socialize with my age-mates at a happy hour or a movie. I spend time with people of all ages when I have something in common with them besides our decade of birth.

Right now I’m cursing the Internet because I can’t figure out how to get a blank page with a header in one of my blogs. I’m revising my website, which means rewriting pages and struggling with the demands of a new WordPress theme. I’m making videos, which is a hassle because I live near a noisy bridge in a noisy city and have to remove the background noise.

And if I didn’t have these things going on, I wouldn’t have the pleasure of a murder mystery that is a rare treat, not something I can do each day. I might write a mystery or do more comedy… but probably not. I love my pottery class but I wouldn’t be in the studio every day. There’s something about time stolen from work, contrasting with work, that leads to real enjoyment.