When asked the recipe for a good old age, I often give a list “good genes, good luck, enough money, and one good kid usually a daughter”.
Elderhood: Redefining Aging, Transforming Medicine, Reimagining Life
by Louise Aronson, MD
Despite our bravado or fear, most of us will be old and many of us very old. Aronson would have us embrace this stage of life and proposes it be recognized as distinct, but no less valued, from childhood and adulthood. She exposes the inadequacy and outright wrong-headedness of standard medical practice with respect to the biological differences of the older body and the kinds of services that the elderly need to be healthy and to maintain their lives.
Most of us probably want to blur the boundary between middle-age and old, but, however reluctantly, I have to acknowledge that I am crossing it. My husband is in the middle phase of Elderhood and my parents in the late, giving me a pretty good view of life in the last decades. Aronson’s book is very affirming for the dignity and value of each person at every stage of life. She condemns the view of old age as just a series of diminishments and losses. Elders in most times and cultures have been respected for their experience and service; she cites studies which show the greatest levels of happiness and life satisfaction among those in their 70s and 80s.
Aronson gives a withering critique of the medical services industry in the treatment of the elderly patient. I’ve encountered enough of what she describes to be nodding my head as I was reading. The phrase “health care” is beyond ironic when applied to the inappropriate, unhelpful, and violent treatment that so often is what the old experience in the medical system.
I will be recommending this book to everyone. It gives a very positive corrective to the prejudices and fears around aging and much good advice about securing good care until her call to “transform medicine” is realized.
Aronson’s recipe for a good old age is amusing, but has an edge. Whatever the positives in aging are or may be, inevitably our bodies will have problems and need care. Why does the medical establishment have to make things so much harder than they need to be?
Today the light was so erratic that the heather’s tones were elusive…And so the promise of colour to come was part of what I was seeing; and yet this rough carpet seemed to swallow light. The dark heather, with its dark roots, and beneath the dark roots the dark earth. Even the footpath puddles were black. Strung across a fence were seven scraps of brightly coloured cloth — these were Tibetan prayer flags, sanctifying the peaty air. The colour, against the moor, was pungent.
William Atkins from The Moor: A journey into the English wilderness
“Always after a defeat and a respite, the Shadow takes another shape and grows again.”
“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
The Fellowship Of The Ring
Be Brave. Be Kind. Be True.
It would be a good thing to buy books if one could also buy the time to read them; but one usually confuses the purchase of books with the acquisition of their contents.
Rather the flight of the bird passing and leaving no trace
Than creatures passing, leaving tracks on the ground.
The bird goes by and forgets, which is as it should be.
The creature, no longer there, and so, perfectly useless,
Shows it was there—also perfectly useless.
Remembering betrays Nature,
Because yesterday’s Nature is not Nature.
What’s past is nothing and remembering is not seeing.
Fly bird, fly away; teach me to disappear.
Alberto Caeiro (pseud. of Fernando Pessoa)
The chief use of the ‘meaning’ of a poem, in the ordinary sense, may be…to satisfy one habit of the reader, to keep his mind diverted and quiet, while the poem does its work upon him: much as the imaginary burglar is always provided with a bit of nice meat for the house-dog. This is an ordinary situation of which I approve.
T. S. Eliot
Half of the American people have never read a newspaper. Half never voted for President. One hopes it is the same half.
“The two clocks say different times, but it could be that neither of them is right. Our clock here”, he continues, pointing to the one above them with his long, slender and refined index finger, “is very late, while that one there measures not so much time as, well, the eternal reality of the exploited, and we to it are as the bough of a tree to the rain that falls upon it: in other words we are helpless.”
from Satantango by Laszlo Krasznahorkia