60 On Up: The Truth about Aging in America by Lillian B. RubinThe Golden Years? Youve got to be kidding . . . Part serious, part comic, these words reflect our ambivalence about aging in the twenty-first century. Is it a blessing or a curse? With refreshing candor and characteristic wit, best-selling author Lillian Rubin looks deeply into the issues of our graying nation, the triumph of our new longevity, and the pain, both emotional and physical, that lies right alongside it.
Through thought-provoking interviews, research, and unflinching analysis of her own life experience, Dr. Rubin offers us a much-needed road map for the uncharted territory that lies ahead. In a country where 78 million baby boomers are moving into their sixties and economists worry that they are the monster at the door that will break the Social Security bank and trash the economy; where 40 percent of sixty-five-year-olds are in the sandwich generation, taking care of their parents while often still supporting their children; and where Americans eighty-five and older represent the fastest-growing segment of the population, we cannot afford to pretend that our expanded old age is just a walk on the sunny side of the street, that sixty is the new forty, eighty is the new sixty, or that well all live happily ever after.
In this wide-ranging book, Dr. Rubin examines how the new longevity ricochets around our social and emotional lives, affecting us all, for good and ill, from adolescence into senescence. How, she asks, do sixty-somethings fill another twenty, thirty, or more years post retirement without a useful identity or obvious purpose? What happens to sex as we move through the decades after sixty? What happens to long-cherished friendships as life takes unexpected turns? What happens when, at seventy, instead of living the life of freedom weve dreamed about, we find ourselves having to take care of Mom and Dad? What happens to the inheritances boomers have come to expect when their parents routinely live into their eighties and beyond and the cost of their care soars?
In tackling the subject of aging over a broad swath of the population, cutting across race, class, gender, and physical and cognitive ability, Lillian Rubin gives us a powerful and long-overdue reminder that all of us will be touched by the problems arising from our new longevity. Our best hope is to understand thoroughly the realities we face and to prepare-as individuals and as a society-for a long life from sixty on up.
The hard truth about getting old
The movie, out next year, stars Blake Lively as a woman born at the turn of the 20th century who has a freak accident at age 29 that stops her from physically aging over the next years. A counterinsurgency to this airbrushed, commercialized — and flagrantly fraudulent — depiction of what it is to grow old has begun to mobilize, led by the old themselves. The emerging message is complex, cautionary and not the stuff of glossy marketing campaigns. For now, such voices remain outliers. Not everybody is healthy or independent or prosperous. The truth of old age is unseen, and perceived as unseemly, says Katz.
I don't know about you, but the chirpy tales that dominate the public discussion about aging -- you know, the ones that tell us that age is just a state of mind, that "60 is the new 40" and "80 the new 60" -- irritate me. What's next: as the new middle age? Sure, aging is different than it was a generation or two ago and there are more possibilities now than ever before, if only because we live so much longer. For it's also true that old age -- even now when old age often isn't what it used to be -- is a time of loss, decline and stigma. Yes, I said stigma. A harsh word, I know, but one that speaks to a truth that's affirmed by social researchers who have consistently found that racial and ethnic stereotypes are likely to give way over time and with contact, but not those about age.
When I was in graduate school in the mids, I felt strangely out of sync with my fellow students.
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