Monday, August 13, 2012



The Machines Are Laughing

I wanted this blog entry to be of epic proportions – to be so amazing and mind blowing, but after reading the Tragedy section of “What Old People Are For?” I came to a realization: on the surface, it may appear no one cares about the older adult population but it in reality, this not caring is masked by fear. That’s right. I said it. Fear. People fear becoming older and the “baggage” they presume comes with it. The concept of the fountain of youth – no matter how elusive and mythical it appears – remains a serious discussion and conquest for those who wish to make it into a reality. As though anyone can defeat a natural process which has occurred since the beginning of time, but I digress. What further impresses me is how explosive the anti-aging industry has become. Its marketing ploy is genius in the fact it supports and perpetuates itself based off of fear. Who knew fear would fuel a million dollar industry – Hey! Let’s save the remainders of youth to fight off that disgusting, repulsive, raging fire of elder hood. I knew I should have taken my agriculture class more seriously in high school – those olives could have paid off my student loans! Just kidding – maybe.

My consciousness took another step on the intellectual stimulation ladder when the author pointed out the ironies of what many consider to be the largest, most advance time in history: The Age of the Machine. My mother once told me, technology would be the ruin of us all – which may be true, however machines may take the gold in this category. The creation of a machine to make society at large supremely sufficient has numerous advantages as you can witness throughout your everyday life, however it does come at a cost. We have become a society of people do more, want more, and demand more. The insistence upon DOING all the time – constantly garnering and generating of information, increasing productivity as skyrocketing rates, exhausting and expending our energies has created an illusion of false urgency of here and now. We have depleted the essence of what makes us human in exchange of being in “the greatest harmony with machines”. Our potential and general value and worth is now measured on a numeric scale and has been reduced to mere economics – productivity input and output, supply and demand economics. If that is the scale on which we are measuring people, then I must assume some older adults will be excluded if they are no longer to participate in these economics – although they can contribute in other areas.

I have also come to a greater understanding in the DOING – being relationship. Doing is reserved for adulthood simply because during that period in time, adults are consistently striving for more in all aspects of their lives as well as searching for meaning. The creation and attainment of goals, acquiring materials and possessions and most importantly, building an empire all define the essence of Adulthood. However, it is essential to be able to transition successfully from one stage to another. In the age of the machines, there is no transition from DOING – being; rather it is a constant cycle of DOING – even in the years spent in retirement. Ironically, we have become the machines we originally created.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Postmortal

   I am not sure how I feel about the end specialist.    It sounds similar to the present day mercy killings.  It is good that they send John to do the paperwork and talk with them.  He also sounds as if he has empathy and is nice to them.

  I guess some of the doctors that treat 75 year old and older in the hospital is using the first stage of the "cure".  Especially if they go the hospital with  serious illnesse4s, don't die in the hospital and get a chance to go back home.  This reminds me of Rev. Billy Graham who is 93 or 98.   I saw on News 14 today that he is back in the hospital again with respiratory problems.  He has been in and out of the hospital quite a few times over the last years.  His last admission to the hospital sounded really bad .  I  thought that he would not come back home, but he did.  He must have a team of great doctors!  I would love to interview him to see how he really feels about living in his 90s, going back and forth to the hospital and his quality of life.

This book truly makes you think about the future of the world.  As I am reading, I find myself trying to think of similarities that are already happening in the world today.  I don't like how he mentions the elderly in the same category as drug addicts, alcoholics and the weak.  Some elderly people are not weak! 

Later, Malinda

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Still Alice and The Postmortal

Still Alice was a great read for me!  It was also emotionally draining because as I was reading it was as if I was right there!  At the end of the book, I read this is what the author wanted the readers to feel.  She did a great job.  I can't wait to read more of her books.

I must say, a few times I thought that the worst was going to happen, especially when she put the kettle on the stove. When she didn't burn down the house and die, I felt relieved.  A few times, I got upset at the husband because I thought that he did not care what was happening to Alice and he was being selfish.  But, I thought about it and realized that he was trying to process and handle the situation the best way that he knew how.  He still had to live.  Thank goodness for her children and their support!  I think that the story would have been different if she didn't have them to stand up for her when she couldn't for herself against her husband wanting to move her.  Am I correct in assuming that she did not move to New York, but John did and came back ever so often?  I hope that she writes a Still Alice, Part II.  I would like to know how long did she live and/or did they find a medicine that cured her or at least she didn't get worse through the years.  I am also glad the author did not have John having an affair or divorcing Alice. 

There was a preacher on the news several months ago that said a spouse should be allowed to divorce a spouse who has Alzheimer.  I suspect he said that because stats show that more women than men get this disease.  What do you guys think?  Should a spouse, man or woman, be allowed to divorce a spouse just because of Alzheimer.   If you think it is o.k., do you also think that the spouse should still be financially responsible and help the family with the spouse as long as he/she lives?

The Postmortal was interesting to me up until John's (another John) girlfriend got killed.  This was sad.  It appeared that everyone that he cared about was dying.  If he lived for many years, this means that he will carry and remember all of this sadness for a l-o-n-g time.  This could happen unless he started to have memory loss and forget all or most of the sadness.  I like the way the author showed the positive and negative sides of being able to live longer.  It is making me think about things that I normally wouldn't think about.  As much as I have read, it looks as if John started out as a nice guy.  As time passes and tragedy continues to happen to and around him, he becomes more and more bitter.  I am looking forward to seeing what happens at the end.  This is why I am not reading your blogs and commenting on them.  I hope to finish this novel and What are Old People For before summer is over so that I can comment on some of your blogs.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Still Alice

I have just finished Still Alice, which is really an interesting and thought-provoking book. Actually, this is the first time for me to read a novel describing the daily life of a person with Alzheimer's disease. Making Alice a fifty-year-old Harvard professor rather than an eighty-year-old retired grandmother may give us more thoughts into the Alzheimer's disease itself. Most people may not be aware of the disease, and for someone like Alice, who had been well-educated; she may understand the disease, but she just didn't see it coming to herself. So she denied, agitated, and almost lost whoever she used to be. Fortunately, her family members gave her abundant support, care, and love. The last scene of this book really fascinates me. When Lydia, Alice's youngest daughter, asked Alice to listen to her performance and told her whatever Alice thought. At that time, Alice already couldn't remember the name of her daughter. All she knows was that the young lady sitting in front of her was a young actress. Nevertheless, the young actress' acting still gave Alice the feeling of love. No matter how far the disease goes, love will still be there.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Still Alice

It could be just me, but I think that the husband has some of the same symptons as Alice.  I haven't finished reading the book yet.  He just doesn't want to admit that something is different with him.  He took it hard when he found out about Alice.  He even cried.  I could almost hear him say, no, not her too!!  This can't be happening to the both of us at the same time.  What about the children!  Or.....since Alice took that big step to find out what was happening, he now has to go to the doctor to determine what is happening with him too

This book caught my attention from the very first sentence,  It's probasbly because I am at that age that I can identify.  Is it menapause, is it my nerves, is it my husband/mate, is it my children, is is dementia, is it......????  It could be none of these, some of these or all of these!    Malinda P.

One more thought...

"What Are Old People For" was written in 2004.  The most frightening aspect of aging, and of living in this time is the economic disaster we face as a nation and in the world.  Dr. Thomas assumed that the upcoming aging population was for the most part, financially secure.  Then the economic bomb dropped after the printing of his book, and those who had some security suddenly had much less or nothing at all.
This crisis is an added burden on everyone, especially those age 50-65 who have lost their jobs and have siphoned off lifetime savings and 401k's just to survive.  With no economic footing to bring into retirement and beyond, the problems/issues the elderly (and adults) already face have been compounded.
I myself am 45, divorced 2 years, and going back to school to create a career in order to financially build a bit of security and help my four children attend college.  Following my passion in this field is the added bonus.
I want to make a difference.  Not only for the present time, but for my future and for my children... well into their old age.  The problems we face collectively and individually are immense, and may not be solved in my lifetime, but to do nothing would be unthinkable.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

De-segregate the elderly

I attended a symposium on aging at the new Biotech center in WS several months ago.  The panel consisted of geriatricians, researchers and PhD's.  Experts in the field of gerontology.  A gentleman near the front posed the question, "I recently retired and am wondering if there are resources out there for activities that would interest me."  The response was, "Well, there's silver sneakers at the Y, and if you contact your local senior center I am sure they can direct you."
Step number one to segregation of the elderly and relegating seniors to "their rightful place."

The last TV show I remember that gave the elderly purpose and integration was The Walton's.  Although these days it is almost impossible to care for one's parents in one's own home, and I realize it is not 1930's America, the point is, Grandma and Grandpa Walton had purpose and were a useful, welcome part of their community (in particular, within their own family).

In his book, "What Are Old People For," Dr. Thomas makes many valid arguments concerning the ruling Adult population of our current society; their fears, perceptions, and what they will do to maintain the status of "useful adult" so as not to slip into the nether-world of "old."  These arguments, although not new, are worth repeating time and again.  Human societies change like shifting sands, depending on it's current power or weakness, humility or arrogance.  The more powerful a group in society, the more zealous said class will be to maintain it's influence and status.  That is why to survive as a whole, integrated society, there must be an awareness of social justice and an under-current constantly fighting for the mistreated, abused, or neglected.  Otherwise, our arrogance will get the best of us.

I have always been fascinated by our development as humans, from the relatively quick evolutionary development of our brains 100,000-120,000 years ago along the East African Rift Valley, to the 85-100 year development from birth to death of an individual life.  I am glad Dr. Thomas touched on these areas.  It is helpful to understand where we have been as humans in order to understand where we are. As humans, one of the most important traits needed to thrive is a sense of purpose.  The author's point that the plague of loneliness, helplessness and boredom in nursing homes is an epidemic is also worth repeating.

During my time in clinicals in a nursing home, it was made clear that most residents suffered greatly from these three plagues.  A continued effort by those in the field of gerontology to find solutions is vital to our society as a whole.  Our communities can benefit significantly by integrating the elderly back into society (and I'm not talking about the practical jokes in Betty White's show "Off Their Rockers," although I love her and her humor).  Integration will build understanding between age groups, help to eliminate fear of growing old, promote mutual respect and provide continued purpose for the elderly.  Exploration of solutions, such as the Eden Alternative mentioned in this book, and community centers focused on the elderly sharing their time, wisdom and talents with all ages are continued necessities for the health of society.  I also believe the use of all media (social, TV, print, cyber) could be very important in changing perceptions of the elderly.  Look at what Modern Family did for same-sex couples and blended families.  There are no easy, quick answers, and that is one reason this field exists.