Milton Crum | Jun 6, 2013, 9:44 a.m.
Milton Crum 2011
TIPPING POINT INTO OLD AGE 6
OLD FOLKS FROM A MIDDLE AGE PERSPECTIVE 9
Counsel to younger generation
Age-defying illusions about old age
OLD AGE FROM THE OLD PERSON’S PERSPECTIVE 15
Heroism of Old Age
OLD AGE FROM A FACTUAL PERSPECTIVE 16
Negative views of us abound. 17
Radical changes occur in our bodies as we age. 22
We suffer many losses. 25
We suffer sleep deprivation. 26
We must resolve major psychological issues. 28
We live with aches and pains. 32
Our ears, our brains, and how people talk affect our speech comprehension. 33
Our digestive system changes. 44
We become more cautious: at least we should. 45
There are always two elephants in the room. 47
Old age changes and challenges us, but it doesn’t always conquer us. 50
KNOWING OLD AGE 53
Aging Simulation 55
With appreciation for those who read and commented on various drafts, whom I won’t name to protect them from any responsibility for the finished product,
and with appreciation for family members and professionals who work with us to the extent that they make an effort to try to understand what it is to be old, especially 80+ “old old,” and with the hope that this paper might provide some help in their effort to understand.
Milton Crum 915 Saddle Drive Helena, MT 59601 April 13, 2011
More precisely, I’m “old old.”
A contemporary told me her frustration about not being able to explain to her son that she was not the person that she used to be before she got old. A little later, my wife Käthe and I received an invitation by a younger family member to attend a dinner followed by a lecture. We decided that the lateness of the event and the demands of comprehending a lecture were too much for us, so we declined. The response was a virtual chastisement: “you aren’t too old to do things like that.” When I asked contemporaries how they explained to their children that they were no longer the person they used to be, no one had an answer: they had either given up or not even tried.
The lack of understanding of the older generation by the younger generation (or by the older generation of ourselves) should not be surprising. A survey of the books “in the Aging sections of bookstores and libraries,” found three kinds of books: (1) “the ‘peppy papers’ on how to stay perky in spite of aging, (2) the ‘existential papers’ on the grim life of loneliness, uselessness, and boredom that awaits the aged,” and (3) how to “manage the unmanageable older adult.” But there were no books that connected inter-generational “difficulties” with “developmental conflicts that senior adults must work through.”1
One of the problems of being old is that younger family members or friends seem to think that we should behave just like we did only a few years ago. They seem reluctant to accept that age has changed us, and many of us share their reluctance because “most people assume [or would like to believe] that getting old is just more of the same. Aging is seen as being an adult, just older . . . older versions of the people they had always been.”2
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