Geriatric Psychiatrist in WSJ Says Adventure Leads To Depression

It’s Time To Think The Bucket List After Retirement by Marc E. Agronin

This article reinforces stereotypes of seniors as soft, cuddly nurturers. Many people over 60 are childless. Many prefer to work for money rather than volunteer (especially for organizations that pay their executives handsomely, such as hospitals and nursing homes). Some just like to travel.

A geriatric psychiatrist should know better than to stereotype “older brains.” Some people take more risks as they get older; novelty-seeking is a personality trait. Having never been especially conscientious or maternal, I doubt that I’ll transform when I hit a magic number.

Here’s what he writes about his patient “Dora:”

“She and her husband spent several months and considerable treasure each year after retirement traveling to a bucket list of exotic locales, but found themselves feeling increasingly alienated from family and friends who did not share in their adventures. Their children complained that they seemed more interested in spending time with itinerant acquaintances than with their grandchildren. Several friends became reticent to invite them on weekend outings, fearing that any such plans paled in comparison with their many adventures.” (more…)

Why Simplicity Wins In Politics

Many people are decrying the advancement of Donald Trump to front-runner for US President. Some observers claim to be shocked by the number of voters who respond to his simple, hard-line solutions. Some claim he’s just acting, but
there’s a reason he’s chosen to play thi s role. It works.

If we wonder why we got Donald Trump, we can look to the way people accept modern medicine. The Amazon summary of a new book, Snowball in a Blizzard by Steven Hatch, says

“The key to good health might lie in the ability to recognize the hype created by so many medical reports, sense when to push a physician for more testing, or resist a physician’s enthusiasm when unnecessary tests or treatments are being offered.” In his book Overdiagnosed, Gilbert Welch questions the usefulness of diagnostic tests. Study after study shows that annual medical exams don’t affect mortality rates.

The truth is, “preventive medicine” (sometimes written as “preventative medicine,” as if the extra syllable lends authority to a nebulous concept) doesn’t exist. Scans, screening and exams rarely prevent anything. They sometimes reduce risk and allow early detection. Sometimes the risk reduction is on the order of 3% or less, which most scientists would agree isn’t clinically significant. Often early detection doesn’t affect outcomes. In his book Less Medicine, More Health, Gilbert Welch explains that cancer comes in at least three varieties: the “birds,” which grow so fast you’re doomed by the time you’re diagnosed; the “turtles,” which grow so slowly you might be dead before you can do anything; and the “rabbits,” which have an impact when caught and treated in the early stages. That’s why so many women get cancer despite annual mammograms. (more…)

AARP Food Truck Stunt Shows How AARP Is Clueless

So AARP decides to take on age stereotypes. They set up a food truck with a big sign, “No One Under 40.”

Their takeaway is, “See how silly ageism looks out in the open?”

But the truth is, the response of people in the video sends the opposite message.

Not one person under 40 questioned the ban on over-40 people. Not one said, “This is illegal.” People who were turned away just accepted their fate.

One woman even let her mother be turned away.

Just imagine the sign had said, “White people only.” Or, “We don’t serve gay people.”

 

Age discrimination starts as early as …35?!

This article from PBS News says it all: age discrimination starts as early as 35. Researchers sent around resumes, changing only the birth date of the applicant. Older applicants got fewer invitations.

When companies were asked why this was happening, the a”reasons given include worries that they’re not good at technology, that they don’t have computer skills. There’s worries that they’re not active, that they’re slow, that they’re not willing to embrace change. There’s worries that they’re just going to leave…” And these reasons just aren’t true.

And AARP’s recommendations, it turns out, aren’t helpful. Why are we not surprised?

According to this article, AARP told people to write, “I’m willing to embrace change.” People who followed this advice got fewer callbacks.

I’m not surprised. I once told a client to remove the phrase, “Maintain an active lifestyle” from his resume. You’re calling attention to age – and emphasizing that you define yourself by age.

So what can you do?

They suggest, “Volunteer and take classes.”

I’d beg to differ.

I’d say to position yourself away from entry level jobs; you’ll still get discrimination but not as much.

And go back to school to study entrepreneurship. Get the entrepreneurial mindset going earlier rather than later.

“Living to Age 75” Is NOT Selfish

It’s long overdue. We’re hearing about people who want to die on their own terms. Ezekiel Emmanuel’s article, Why I Hope To Die At 75, should be required reading for everyone.

I get totally frustrated when I read (or hear) people say, “Suicide is selfish.” The survivors are the ones who are selfish. They’re asking their “loved one” to hang around long enough to be stuck in a nursing home, where it’s not considered abuse to tie someone to a chair in diapers in front of a television set. Even if they visit every day for an hour, which is extremely rare, they’re asking the relative to put up with 23 hours of misery so they can have a single hour, not to mention the “feel good” emotions of saying, “My mom…” or, “My dad…”

We also forget that more and more of us are single and living alone. We’re used to solitude. We’re not used to sharing. Just adding a caretaker to our lives removes all possibility of a decent quality of life.

Emmanuel’s article gets it right. The people who chug along into their 90s are outliers. Getting pneumonia is a blessing. The idea is to die before you become disabled. Ironically, if we knew we could pull the plug anytime on demand, many of us would choose to live longer.

I’m going to print out his article to share if I have to see a doctor again. They probably won’t listen but it might shorten the conversation.