Blog Posts - end of life

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Books to Give or Keep in 2017

Books to Give or Keep in 2017
Friends all know I’m an avid reader, and it’s that time of year when they ask me to recommend books for holiday gift lists. I primarily seek out new fiction, but I enjoy deviating for an interesting memoir. Each of my picks connects to aging, from midlife on up.  Read more...


 

What a Living Will Can—and Can’t—Do for You

What a Living Will Can—and Can’t—Do for You
My friend Anne taught me some important things about dying.

Anne had congestive heart failure. In January 2012 her cardiologist told her regretfully that she probably wouldn’t live past the end of the month, so she went home to set her affairs in order and to say her goodbyes. She made up her mind to refuse any medical procedures aimed at keeping her alive; she’d let nature take its course.  Read more...


 

Green Old Age

Green Old Age
A friend of mine recently questioned something she read on this website that presented what she called “a depressing view of aging.” She wondered why we’d included it if we’re determined to challenge ageism—which has been defined as “prejudicial attitudes toward older people, old age and aging itself.” Shouldn’t we present an entirely positive view of life’s later years?  Read more...


 

A Good Death

A Good Death
While I was trawling the internet one day, I came across this comment on the blog of a jazz musician: “I’ve often joked that every musician’s secret fantasy is to die on the bandstand, at a ripe old age and after a really good solo, and that’s not too far from what I’d actually like to happen a long time from now.”  Read more...


 

Remember or Be Remembered

Remember or Be Remembered
Earlier this year, an elderly neighbor of ours died after a long illness. When we moved into our house 20 years ago, we came to know her only in passing. She was the old woman who slowly walked her collie past our house three times a day. The sum total of my knowledge about her was the long, camel-hair overcoat she wore in cold weather and the wreath of snow-white, thick hair that adorned her head.  Read more...


 

Having the Talk—Not the One about Sex, the One about Dying

Having the Talk—Not the One about Sex, the One about Dying
A close friend’s grandfather is dying, though no one knows how close to death he is—perhaps months away. Even his doctor seems clueless, although perhaps he’s just not saying. In any case, he’s not asking. And even if everything were in the open and everyone on the same page—a pipe dream, I realize—no playbook would reveal itself. Dying is a concatenation of unpredictable events.  Read more...


 

How do I get old faster?

How do I get old faster?
That’s a question that Dr. Laura Carstensen regularly fields after explaining why older people are happier than younger ones—the basis of the ubiquitous Happiness U-curve. I didn’t really believe the curve existed until I understood why. Carstensen, a psychologist and the founding director of the Stanford Longevity Center, explains it beautifully.  Read more...


 

Betrayed by an Author

Betrayed by an Author
Why wouldn't I read a memoir by Joyce Carol Oates? She is a widow, as am I, she lives nearby, and books from her prolific writing career have graced my nightstand frequently over the years. So I bought a copy of A Widow's Story: A Memoir. It seems odd to say that I looked forward to reading the intimate details of her grieving, but I did eagerly await this particular memoir, even if the sharing of our grief was to be one sided.  Read more...


 

He Thinks 75 Is Old?

He Thinks 75 Is Old?
Ezekiel J. Emanuel caused quite a stir with his October 2014 Atlantic article saying that he did not want to live past 75. Emanuel is a noted bioethicist and a doctor who consulted on the Affordable Care Act. He does not believe in suicide or legalized euthanasia; he would simply decline medical care. What a limited imagination this doctor has, that he cannot visualize himself vital, engaged and enjoying life at 75. How sad that he has little or no contact with vigorous, healthy people in their 80s or 90s. They are everywhere; he need only look around.  Read more...


 

A Life or Death Decision

A Life or Death Decision
The other day, I went to the vet with my 15-year-old dog to talk about euthanasia. A couple of my friends thought Korku was suffering and that I should free him from his infirmities. Many people refer to this as “putting down” a dog or cat, but I don’t like euphemisms. The truth is, if I did it, I’d be killing him for his own good.  Read more...


 

I Lied to My Father on His Deathbed

I Lied to My Father on His Deathbed
My generation has been called the sandwich generation, people in middle age who bear some level of responsibility for their children and their parents. While reliable statistics are not readily available, it is estimated that almost half of people in their 50s and early 60s find themselves in this demographic.  Read more...


 

How Problematic Is This Atlantic Cover Story? Let Me Count the Ways

How Problematic Is This <em>Atlantic</em> Cover Story? Let Me Count the Ways
The cover of the October 2014 Atlantic magazine features a white-bearded skateboarder careening crazily above the title of an article that encapsulates American ambivalence about longevity, Ezekiel Emanuel’s “Why I Hope to Die at 75.” I wrote a letter to the editor, calling out the unacknowledged ageism that saturates the issue.  Read more...


 

Uncle Ralph

Late one cloudy October afternoon, my sister sent me an email with the two-word subject “Uncle Ralph.” I knew before opening it what the email would say. I knew it would say that Uncle Ralph had died.  Read more...


 

Who’ll Be in Charge When We Die?

Who’ll Be in Charge When We Die?
The lines used to be drawn more sharply for me when it came to assisted suicide, now more often called “aid in dying.” After all, I had in-the-trenches experience. My mother was a charter member of the Hemlock Society, the first national right-to-die organization. (It has since merged with Compassion & Choices, which works to “expand choice at the end of life,” and to which I’ve belonged for decades.) She did eventually commit suicide, a decision I’ll probably never fully come to terms with, but which I respect. Because she was unwaveringly clear, so is my conscience. I’ve promised my children I won’t follow their grandmother’s example. But I too hope to control the circumstances under which I die.  Read more...


 

Recalculating My Expiration Date

Recalculating My Expiration Date
At 79, I’m old enough to understand that I’m not immortal. Put it this way: I don’t take out five-year magazine subscriptions, but I’m still willing to buy green bananas.  Read more...


 

What Not to Say to Someone Who’s Grieving

What Not to Say to Someone Who’s Grieving
A few months after my husband died, a friend said to me, “I’m glad you’re feeling better and moving on with your life.”  Read more...


 

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Our Mission

The Silver Century Foundation promotes a positive view of aging. The Foundation challenges entrenched and harmful stereotypes, encourages dialogue between generations, advocates planning for the second half of life, and raises awareness to educate and inspire everyone to live long, healthy, empowered lives.

Notable Quote

"It is not by muscle, speed, or physical dexterity that great things are achieved, but by reflection, force of character, and judgment; in these qualities old age is usually not poorer, but is even richer."

Cicero (106-43 BC)