Monday, October 10, 2022

Critical Age Theory: Book Review

Published 29 May 2022.
I have been reading widely about aging since 2010.  

A few books take a comprehensive view of the aging process, titles that I often recommend to people who are not gerontologists so that they can get The Big Picture. 

I have found another title to add to my list of must reads about aging. 

Mario D. Garrett, PhD has written a jeremiad of sorts about the many institutions that prey on older adults, capitalizing on the vulnerability many face in late life. 

To create a context, I suggest readers first watch the 2020 film, I Care A Lot, directed by J. Blakeson and starring Rosamund Pike. I watched the film the year it was released and found it interesting as an exaggeration, a dramatization of the state of eldercare in the 21st Century. 

Two years after viewing that film, Garrett's book has me rethinking I Care a Lot as being less a niche genre black satirical comedy thriller and more from the genre "based on true events."  I had already planned on mentioning this film in my review before I saw that Garrett references I Care A Lot (2020) himself.   

Watch the film, but if you going to choose one, read Garrett's book.  

Critical Age Theory: Profiteering From the Final Stages of Life (2022) describes the ways for-profit companies and even the government and non-profits fail older adults when they are the most frail of mind, body, and finances. 

I teach college courses on aging (gerontology), and this book would work well to alert my students to the unethical practices that are inherent in the system and challenging for individuals to change at their level. 

The chapters are as follows (with a staccato summary/response for each chapter). 

(Here is my Goodreads review, which I wrote chapter-by-chapter as I read. It's grittier than my blog review.) 

Introduction: This sets the tone with Garrett as the lone voice in the wilderness, asking people to look at the larger systems controlling aging and to spend less time blaming elders and their family caregivers and less time wagging fingers at those paid to offer support directly to older adults.  The problem goes higher up, and it goes deep into the structures of 21st century power structures.  Here is one example that gestures to system rather than the individual as the root problem:
"We make it easy for . . . commercial practices to continue as we tend to see only individuals that commit fraud or harm. As with elder abuse, we personalize the interaction. however, in most cases, the institutional make up--what we euphemistically refer to as their business model, or business culture--determines how individual workers behave within an agency. Since the business model dictates workers' hours, duties, and responsibilities, it is logical to examine the business model being used" (9). 

(I do not remember Garrett using the word "hegemony," but academics use this--and other words--to study the network of power that is pervasive and difficult to combat.)

1. Drugs: Drugs are often improperly prescribed and almost always overpriced.  

*Each chapter ends with a "Playbook" that unearths the game plan that seems to drive decisions based on profitability over patient-centered / customer-centered / client-centered service. One of the items from the "Playbook" on the chapter "Drugs" is this: "Price medications on the basis of what people can afford rather than what they cost to develop and manufacture" (37). 

Monday, June 20, 2022

2022 MAIA Concurrent Sessions

After being virtual for two years, the Mid-America Institute on Aging and Wellness (MAIA) will be returning to an in-person format on Thursday August 11 and Friday August 12, 2022. 

See the MAIA webpage for details about keynote speakers, concurrent sessions, corporate sponsors, exhibits, and registration. 

Here is a list of the presenters for the concurrent sessions.  Here is a link to the 2022 MAIA brochure, which lists the dates and times. Room numbers will be announced at the venue. 

Saturday, June 18, 2022

2022 Mid-American Institute on Aging & Wellness: Keynote Speakers


MAIA 2022 Keynotes

After moving to an online format in 2020 and 2021, the Mid-American Institution on Aging & Wellness is returning to an in-person event. 

The University of Southern Indiana, located in Evansville, Indiana, will host on Thursday 11 August and Friday 12 August. The local area on aging, SWIRCA is a co-host. There are several corporate sponsors as well. See MAIA's site for information, including a brochure and a link to registration information.

Here is a preview of information about the four keynote speakers who deliver their remarks at the start and end of each day. In between, there will be 30 plus concurrent sessions.  See the brochure for a list of the concurrent sessions.  Here is a blog post, detailing the concurrent sessions from MAIA 2019, complete with several photographs. 

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Overloaded: Unplugging a Bit

Image Credit: State Farm
via Creative Commons

 For being in my sixties, I have pretty good health. I attend between 12 and 15 (sometimes 18 ) classes a week at my local YMCA. I do a mix of cardio, stretching, and strength training. However, I am having trouble managing my cognition. 

It's nothing serious. I am just realizing that I can no longer manage multiple projects without losing things, dropping items, or driving my car into brick frame next to the garage door.  

I've had mishaps such as this as a teen, a twentysomething, a working mom in my 30s and 40s, as a graduate student with teens in my 50s. But at 60, I'm STILL overcommitting myself, and it's time to choose doing a few things well instead of trying to do everything--which means that I do all those things poorly.  

(In April of this year, I pulled into my driving at 9 pm, thinking that I had put the car into park. I had been up since 4 am tackling my "To Do List" all day.  Nope. My car was not in park. I was too busy thinking about other things instead of focusing on the immediate task at hand. I tend to live in my head. As a child, I would walk to school only to have my teacher point out my uncombed hair, untied, shoes, and wrongly buttoned blouse.  I still have my head in the clouds. This June, I left my groceries in my car overnight. Again, I was thinking about other things instead of grounding myself into the immediate moment.)  

For the last couple of years, I have been juggling the following: 

Monday, February 28, 2022

In Search of Sages

M. E. Brockman (L) and T. S. Hill (R)
United Nations photo via Creative Commons

I am teaching Late Life and Spirituality this semester. We are reading Holly Nelson-Becker's 2018 textbook Spirituality, Religion, and Aging: Illuminations for Therapeutic Practice. (Sage Publications, Inc.). In addition to taking quizzes, my students are writing short reports on living sages, aged 60 plus. 

Initially, I let them select the sages. However, they were mainly choosing actors who are cast as sages in major motion pictures. All of my students are in the traditional college age group (18 to 25). I have a feeling that they restrict themselves to interacting with young adults, so it was nearly impossible for them to identify living sages. 

Here are some of the people I suggested that they study as living sages who are 60 plus years old: 

Wendell Berry, conservationist
Fr. Greg Boyle, activist, intervening with gang members
Jimmy Carter, activist with Habitat for Humanity and Council of Elders

Pema Chodron, devotional writer
Daniel Dennett, cognitive scientist
Pope Francis, religious leader

Monday, January 31, 2022

2022 Word of the Year


"Russian Nested Dolls" 
by Images by John 'K'
is licensed under 
CC BY 2.0

I stopped making New Year's resolutions a long time ago. More recently, I have been selecting a Word of the Year (WODY) instead.  

I have found that by choosing a focus word, I can think deeply about the meaning and application of the word.  In addition, the word is more flexible, allowing me to change and grow over twelve months.

A WODY is more open, dynamic, fluid, and inviting than a resolution. 

For several months at the end of 2021, I considered the word "boxed" for 2022 as a way to focus on boundaries. Then I thought about choosing (un)boxed so that I could on the one hand avoid long-held labels that I felt were restricting me. (I'm a Type A. I'm an oldest child. I'm an extrovert. I'm an avid reader.) 

I wanted to entertain shedding some of these labels while at the same time setting up some boundaries. (Un)Boxed would allow me all kinds of possibilities. 

By January I found myself drawn to the word SMALLER as my 2022 WODY. 

For decades, I have been overextending myself, trying to study everything, meet everyone, master several skills--more, more, more; bigger, bigger, bigger. 

Now that I'm inarguably in the Second Half of life, I am recognizing my limits. 

Saturday, January 1, 2022

Happy 10th Blogoversary


"Ten" by Gamma-Ray Productions 
is licensed under 
CC BY-ND 2.0

When I was working on my master's degree in gerontology / aging studies, I wanted to place to record my growing awareness of how we age and how we can better manage the aging process. 

I have a tendency to do a deep dive into topics by looking at academic journal articles, government reports, and information on websites hosted by nongovernmental organizations.  I also like to read broadly about aging and watch films that feature older adults as the protagonists. 

However, as the weeks, months, and years go on, I do not always remember details such statistics or the precise titles of books that I've read or the names of every leading actor in films that I view. 

This blog serves as a great way to jog my own memory. I am more than happy to share my efforts with others. 

Today is the 10th anniversary of this blog, or my blogoversary. During this time, I have written and published 450 posts.  

The overall Top 20 has not changed much in the last few years, so here is a link to a previous blogoversary post that includes the 20 titles and their links. 

Consequently, here are the posts with the most views for each year since I started this blog. 

2012 Films about Aging

2013 Film's about Alzheimer's Disease and Other Dementias (NCDs)

2014 Books about Dementia (Neurocognitive Disorders)

2015 Baby Boomers Born in 1962