Sunday, March 1, 2020

Coronavirus, Ageism, Ableism and More

I am a digital native within Twitter. I generally follow accounts related to gerontology.

Over the last month, I have been alarmed by how many people downplay the potential impact of COVID-19 aka coronavirus because it "ONLY" affects older adults and those with underlying medical conditions.


The dismissive language comes not only in the comments to the news outlets but within the language of the media as well.

It's disheartening to read hundreds of responses that convey an underlying ageism and ableism.

(I have also read a lot of responses from the rank-and-file that express xenophobia and/or racism. However, others are better equipped at parsing the origins and implications of those forms of prejudice, which are equally abhorrent.)

I'm alarmed that  many feel emboldened to devalue populations of older adults and people with illnesses.

Monday, February 24, 2020

Books about Aging: M through Z

It's time to split a post from 2012.

Each year since then, I've been reading a dozen or so titles related to aging and listing them in that prior post.

The original post "Books about Aging" expanded to ten screens of titles, so I decided to divide it.

The most recent adds in this half are Elizabeth Strout's Olive Again (2019) Review and  Mary Pipher's Women Rowing North (2019). Review

The book I revisit the most often is Richard Rohr's Falling Upward (2011). Review

They all have merit; they all have their intended audience. I hope that you find a good read for you from the titles below.

Books about Aging: M through Z

Friday, February 7, 2020

Olive, Again: Book Review

Published 15 October 2019.
Elizabeth Strout has extended Olive Kitteridge's life into another novel, Olive, Again (2019), and I am delighted.

Not all of the chapters focus on Olive, but we do learn more about her and her interactions with her love interest, Jack Kennison; her son, Christopher and his family; a couple of former students, including a famous poet; and a few of her age mates.

True to her character, Olive is cranky, cynical, and outspoken. She also displays compassion for people in her odd little way.

Her adventures move her and her associates into late life with many of its challenges:

loneliness, the oddities of remarriage in late life, the complexities of decades' long marriages, the conflict between expectations and realities, estranged adult children, dealing with hardships such as depression, illness, infidelities, and such.

As with Olive Kitteridge, some of the chapters focus on other residents of Crosby, Maine--some of whom are much younger than Olive. There are a significant number of characters in their teens, 20s and 30s. We get glimpse into the lives of an adolescent house cleaners, and young adults who are home health care nurses, and a very pregnant woman attending a baby shower.

Some of the most salient moments from this novel include the many times that people end up offering each other comfort and kindness even though they don't have a lot in common or they only have a tenuous connection.

“The way people can love those they barely know, and how abiding that love can be, even when — as in her own case — it was temporary."

Almost everyone is carrying a heavy burden, and most people feel alone and overwhelmed.  Nevertheless, there are moments of hope and grace that emerge from the pages of the book.

As a gerontologist, I was happy to see many of the characters as people in their 60s, 70s and 80s--people who were still capable of growth and development.


Olive Kittridge: Book Review
Books about Aging

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Elderhood: Book Review

Published 11 June 2019.
Geriatrician Louise Aronson published a book recently that serves as a great overview for the field of gerontology.

Elderhood: Redefining Aging, Transforming Medicine, Reimaging Life was published on June 11, 2019.

My Goodreads Review

Aronson presents 464 pages of observations about the aging process and health care in the US.

Yes, she has a medical degree; however, her outlook on aging comes very much from a humanities standpoint.

Note: Aronson is one of the keynote speakers at the 13th Annual MAIA in Evansville, SW Indiana (off I-64 between St. Louis and Louisville) this August 2020. Check out the other keynotes, dates, etc. here.

First, her book is structured like a memoir. She does talk about aging; however, she also includes a lot of autobiographical detail in chronological order.

Second, her book discusses case studies in a way that foregrounds the qualitative elements of the human experience, such as relationships, emotions, values, bias, limited perspective.

By even making this observation about her vocation, Aronson declares her preference for the more philosophical side of medicine.

Third, her book brings in a lot of material from non-medical sources. She quotes from works of literature, philosophy, psychology and sociology.

For example, this is how she frames the way physicians choose a specialty:
"How doctors choose to spend their careers may depend in part on their tolerance for ambiguity and complexity, and their interest in questions that lend themselves as much to philosophy, psychology, and sociology as to science and statistics." (p. 159)