Sunday, June 26, 2011

Adulthood -- Elderhood

I watched a You Tube video of a TED talk by Dr. [Bill, I think{} Thompson on the Time Goes By blog -- see my right hand sidebar -- I don't know how to put a video on here. The link but you can click this, I think. Or go to Times Goes By -- two days ago.

Dr. Thompson is a geriatrician, one of only 6,000 in the USA in a country with 30 million people over 65. Have you ever seen a geriatrician? I never have. But they're the M.D.s who know that older people have age-related problems and what can be done about them besides writing a knee-jerk prescription.

Dr Thompson analyzes the effect of the boomer generation which, says he, invented "adulthood" after they had been through youthful rebellion and turned the country on its ear during the '60s and '70s. Then they discovered family and responsibility and major consumerism, computers, the stock market and that they didn't want to get old, so they spawned "success aging" gurus by the hundred to espouse "successful aging" -- in other words, pretending you aren't aging. So the invented botox and knee replacement, egg white omelets and SUVs. But, say Dr. Thompson, they can invent all they can think of they can't invent a way to actually stop getting older every birthday. It's almost inevitable that some of them, perhaps a vocal, book writing, activist group, will discover elderhood. That, yes, getting older can lead to a smidgeon of wisdom, perhaps some insights, perhaps some contentment.

For my part, I think I've survived adulthood pretty well: I did the expected, i.e., married, had kids, was very active in my community, divorced, moved to a different city, had a career, traveled to many parts of the world, wrote a book and researched for another, was frugal enough to have a saving account and IRA, and retired.

Now I"m ready and even eager for elderhood. I'm sharing some of my experience both in writing and teaching, I'm enjoying artistic pursuits, taking advantage of a beautiful locale, making new friends, enjoying a growing family and have been both lucky [thanks to my parents' genes] and sensible enough to remain healthy. I have an understanding of several religions and philosophies and frequently feel content. I remember Gloria Steinam's statement at fifty and I'd tweak it to say, "This, I think, is what elderhood looks like." Glad I'm here.



June -- I have a few issues with Dr Bill Thompson's talk. You mentioned he said that the boomers were the population that turned this country on its ear.

Boomers were just beginning to be born in 1945-46 start of the so-named "boomer" period.

In 1955 the oldest boomer would have been about ten years old when the start of the African - American civil rights movement began.

By 1960 the oldest boomer would be fourteen years old -- when birth control pills appeared.

In 1963 the oldest boomer would have been about seventeen years old -- when the classic book "The Feminine Mystique" by Betty Fridan was published. Her book was a powerful incentive for women to gain new rights and has been attributed to part of the beginning of the women's movement of the early 60s.

Also, the environmental movement had its roots in the early sixties -- again when the boomers were very young.

So, Dr Bill Thompson is giving way to much credit to the boomers for all this rebellious movement stuff. Lets put them where they belong -- in the 70s when flower power became part of the popular culture along with drugs. The boomers were at the tail end of a great "rights" period.

Let him give credit where credit is due. To the hard working mature folks of the 60s that gave their body and soul to important changes in this country.

This post made be think about what really happened -- barbara

June Calender said...

Thank you so much, Barbara. I didn't do the math. I consider myself in a pre-Boomer generation [borm '38] but I was doing the things I'd been programmed to do [marriage, family]-however when birth control and short thereafter Betty Fridan came on the scene I was ready and eager for the change.

I do think the Boomers get more credit than they deserve; it seems to me they're the material ones -- two cars, suburban houses with living rooms no one lives in, and fearful overreaction to 9/11 and all the media hype about dangers.

It's encouraging that some embrace ecology and Buddhism [tho' an Americanized version] But many more are scared little rabbits who who haven't a clue how to grow older with anything like a balanced outlook.