Aging4Dummies has a new identity!

Thanks for sticking by me, loyal “dummy” followers.

As the book readies for publication, we’re moving to a new-improved site: Aging Our Way.

Come visit!!!


Outsourcing Grandma

Adopt-a-Grandparent is a popular extracurricular option on our national college campuses, especially as students increasingly attend college far from family. But I hadn’t heard of Rent-a-Grandma until today. According to the Christian Science Monitor, Rent-A-Grandma (out of Los Angeles) is opening franchises across the country. The outfit places women 50+ where they are needed for elder care, child care, house care, pet care and beyond. “Women 50+ don’t text or tweet while they’re watching your kids,” according to Rent-A-Grandma’s founder, while adding that their experience makes these women good at what they do. Maybe Grandma is getting a better rap these days. She’s trustworthy and experienced, when it comes to caring for others. And I bet they are more tech-saavy than we make them out to be.

A good death

A good death. What would it look like?

My students weighed in — outlining their ideal death scenarios including having family close-by, to emotional preparation and goodbyes, to a shot to the back of the head without warning. They were talking about the moment of death. But what about the dying process?

Hospice is in the business of making your fantasies possible (within reason) when you are dying.  With your help, they’ll do it. including emphasizing comfort and peacefulness in a Hawaiian fantasy (complete with hot sand, audio of waves crashing, and coconut oil smells). This is the focus of the latest NYT piece on achieving a good death. So many of these scenarios involve bringing individuals back into nature (or bringing their deathbeds outside) — sleeping outside, hearing the sounds of nature, etc. A real commentary on a society that has strayed far from the natural world.

A blog on good death also attempts to take this ideal apart. It is worth thinking about.

Living Well — Where?

Sorry for the delay on posting. I’ve been busy blogging for Ms. and finalizing my book on nonagenarians aging and home and making it work (forthcoming from Oxford University Press, 2011).  Meanwhile, others have been weighing in on this question of where to live in their final chapter. “The Nancies,” whom I know and respect, are featured in the New Old Age Blog (NYTimes), talking about their decision to buy a house and live together as friends, like the Golden Girls. Sociologist Mindy Fried talks about playing punch-the-balloon with her dad in assisted living. Acclaimed writer and editor Diana Athill also moved to assisted living in her 90s, and loves it. (Have you read her book, Somewhere Towards the End? It rocks.) My pal Christine, age 91, is thriving in a local green house, a nursing facility that emphasizes active living rather than dying. Finally, my students in Sociology of the Lifecourse say they want to live with their friends forever. How about you?

LGBTQ Elders Back in the Closet

We all earn the right to be ourselves in our last years of life, at the very least.  Right?

The new documentary, Generation Silent,  asks six LGBT seniors if they will hide their lives to survive.

The filmmaker points out that many LGBT elders are currently aging at home, alone, without formal help, for fear of discrimination.  This is their choice, but it is clearly a constrained choice, based on a lifetime of experience being singled out, and treated differently because of who they are.

Watching this three-minute trailer reminds me yet again that the goals of gay liberation haven’t been achieved. We all want to age comfortably, with support, and without judgement.  So let’s support others who want to do the same.

Neighbors Who Care

The Caregiver Next Door, a piece in the New Old Age Blog (New York Times) by Paula Span, talks glowingly of a woman who is a one-woman senior service agency. She offers food, transport, and support to elders in one community of elders. I was happy to see this piece, as “new old age” isn’t just about diet and exercise and brain teasers.

In my mind, social support is the answer to any problems we have in the 21st century. Reaching out to others makes a huge difference in all of our lives.

I know a woman who is an elder advocate in our community. She hosts town hall meetings and awards ceremonies honoring exemplary elders.

As for me, I’m part of a neighborhood that has decided to build community around our beloved nonagenarian neighbors. We do monthly potlucks, we deliver food, we celebrate birthdays. We operate like a social family. (All of us have family members scattered far and wide.)  When you know your neighbors and take turns caring for each other, now that’s living.

Grumpy Sells

There’s a new book out, by a 29-year-old. Here’s how they’re selling it: “I live with my 74-year-old dad. He is awesome. I just write down shit that he says.”

Shit My Dad Says is a twitter feed, a book, and a new TV show.

If you ask me, its Grumpy Old Men 2010 (the I-have-something-to-prove-tough-guy-kind-of grumpiness). And because it fits nicely with all of those “old man” stereotypes and our national obsession with dysfunctionality, it seems to have captured over a million followers.

Barbara Ehrenreich, in her latest book Bright-Sided, makes an argument for kvetching. However, I’m not sure that she’d totally approve of this kind of aggressive cantankerousness.

On a related note, a friend of mine just told me that his grandmother seems to be enjoying her end-of-life license to kvetch.  We talked about whether this is a freedom that comes from being too old to care about social inhibition as well as an awareness that what you say is generally ignored by all around you. Beware, though, of twittering kids, who might want to make money off of you.

The Author

Meika Loe

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