Thursday, April 29, 2021

Nomadland: Review with a View on Poverty


Released 19 February 2021

Having been a fan of Frances McDormand for two decades, I was eager to see her performance as Fern in Nomadland (2020).  She did not disappoint. However, I did not walk away feeling blissful or triumphant. Instead, I was unsettled. 

The film is a blend between fact and fiction. The director, Chloe' Zhao, had a lot of people depict themselves in the film, people who are seasonal workers living in in all manner of vehicles--from campers to converted vans. 

The film shows Fern, uprooted after the factor closes where she lived in Nevada. She ends up living in a van and working seasonal jobs. She's barely managing to get by, so if she has trouble with her van, her job, or her health, she's poised to lose everything. 

Yes, Fern demonstrates industry, creativity, resilience, self-reliance, warmth and compassion. Her character was admirable. However, I kept asking questions about the way the economy in the United States is structured in such a way that laborers like Fern can reach their sixties without savings, equity, or healthcare.  

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Ten Books: An Essential Library on Aging

Over the past decade, I have read over 150 books about aging. The topics have ranged from physical to metaphysical with just about everything in between. 

For my full list of books read, see this page. 

I realize that scrolling through this list is a bit like drinking from a fire hydrant. Consequently, I decided to compile a list of the books that I judge as essential reading for anyone who is aging or anyone supporting another person who is aging. 

Monday, March 29, 2021

2020 Report on Older Americans


In 2020, the Federal Interagency Forum on Age-Related Statistics published an updated report about 40 key indicators of Well-Being. 

These 40 key indicators are organized into the following categories: 



Health Status

Health Risks and Behaviors

Health Care


Of course, this report published data about older adults before the COVID-19 pandemic. Consequently, some of the information has probably changed dramatically. 

Nevertheless, some of the information is still salient. 

You can read the full report here, which is more than 180 pages long. However, it includes three pages of highlights spanning pages xvi - xviii. 

After reading through the highlights, here are a few points that I found interesting. 

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Vaccinated on the Anniversary of the Pandemic


Photo by JernejFurman
via Creative Commons

On Thursday, 11 March 2021 I received my first vaccine to protect me from acquiring the disease COVID-19 in the event that I aim infected by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. 

Because I received the Pfizer vaccine, I will receive the second vaccine in three weeks. 

Two weeks after that (around Tax Day), I will achieve the maximum immunity provided by that vaccine. My husband is on a schedule for his vaccine just three days behind me.  

I will always be able to remember the date of my first vaccination because it was the one-year anniversary for when the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 had reached pandemic levels. 

The media has published a variety of retrospectives, so I will refrain from making observations about society at large. I can report on my own situation with some authority. 

Briefly stated, I have moved from vigilance to mania to information overload to worry to depression and now I feel an ember of hope. 

Sunday, February 28, 2021

Sunday Afternoons with Shirley Temple


Image by Keith Roper via Creative Commons

Earlier this week, I saw that "animal crackers in my soup" was a trending topic on Twitter. Sure enough, this referenced a lyric from a song that Shirley Temple sung in the film Curly Top (1935). People were recalling a late-night commercial for a DVD set of her films.  (See IMDB for a list of her films.) This started me on a trip down memory lane. 

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Prepare for the Next Emergency Today


Photo by Niq Scott via Creative Commons

With much of the United States experiencing very dangerous winter weather, many people are taking an inventory of their ability to meet basic needs during loss of power or water. I just got off the phone with my octogenarian father who has lost power and water in his home outside of Houston. They could have been better prepared. 

Much of what I have learned about preparedness has come from nearly six decades of direct experience and observation. For example, some friends of mine had no water for a week because of flooding in central Pennsylvania. The husband had to stand in line every day to get drinking water from the city for his family of six. 

After hearing about their situation, I began storing water in used laundry jugs. I do not even rinse the jugs because the water I store in used laundry jugs is for flushing toilets not drinking. We have other water stored for drinking. 

Having water for drinking, cooking, bathing, and flushing toilets is just one of many areas of emergency preparedness. 

I want to write a comprehensive post about emergency preparedness, but the topic is too broad, and the stakes are too high. Each household should study, prepare, and review their own emergency preparedness. 

Sunday, January 31, 2021

My Love Don't Cross That River: Film Review

27 November 2014
Director and cinematographer Jin Mo-young spent 15 months filming a couple from South Korea who had been married for 76 years. Jo Byeong-man is 98 years old, and his wife,  Kang Kye-yeol, is 89 years old.  

The resulting documentary--My Love, Don't Cross That River--depicts this couple engaging in daily activities such as shopping, cooking, eating, doing laundry, doing light yard work and in other ways still meeting their needs. 

The first half of the film depicts their playful interaction with each other, their love for their dogs, and their ability to manage fairly well in their late life. 

By the midpoint, the documentary starts introducing a number of challenges that the couple face. 

It's clear that Jo Byeong-man's cough is an indication of growing health challenges. Kang Kye-yeol also talks about the loss of half of their twelve children when she purchases clothing for them to have in the afterlife. 

Friday, January 1, 2021

Happy 9th Blogoversary

Image by Jenny C.
via Creative Commons

Today marks the 9th Blogoversary for The Generation Above Me (TGAM). I started this blog when I was a graduate student, earning a master's in Gerontology aka Aging Studies.  

I wanted a place to save links to more authoritative sources than the papers I was writing for my seminar classes. I also wanted to save reviews for books and films about aging for my own reference.  

Over time, family, friends, and associates would ask me questions about their parents' aging process and their own. The blog became a place for me to write up what I learned for others faced with the same set of age-correlated challenges or opportunities. 

For the first six years, my blogoversary post included a list of the overall top views for TGAM. However, I have found that with 436 posts published over nine years, the Top 20 views have not changed substantially.  

Most of the Top 20 All-Time Views for this blog are part of these series of posts--or they are in the spirit of these posts: 

Films about Aging The links for Films about Alzheimer's Disease (and other dementias), Films Set in Nursing Homes, and Films about the Dying Process are the three most popular posts in this series. I enjoy watching films about aging because reading academic studies can leave me cold. Aging is an holistic activity that includes emotions and relationships.  Films do a good job depicting complexities and nuance. I highly suggest the documentaries since many feature films can gloss over some of the more pragmatic concerns. 

Books about Aging  Books about Dementia receives the most views, but I am partial to books about Spirituality and Aging. I spent forty years studying and teaching college English courses. And it is my nature to read a great deal when faced with new challenges and opportunities. I hope that my efforts hear can serve others. And writing reviews helps me to recall more details from books read years prior. 

Image by bairo via Creative Commons.