Blog Posts - relationships

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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...


 

Mom's Bridge Club

Mom's Bridge Club
Lately I'm reading a surprising number of memoirs written by adult children about their experiences with their parent(s) as they age. I find myself identifying so often with the authors' stories, though my parents are no longer living.  Read more...


 

Preserving Autonomy against the Odds

Preserving Autonomy against the Odds
When the doctor diagnosed my mother with probable Alzheimer’s, he also told her, “I want you to stop driving.” He said her reflexes and judgment weren’t good enough.  Read more...


 

Books to Give or Keep in 2016

Books to Give or Keep in 2016
It’s that time of year—when I am asked to recommend books I’ve read to friends who are working on their gift lists. I primarily seek out new fiction, but I enjoy deviating for an interesting memoir. Each of these books connects to aging, from midlife on up.  Read more...


 

How to Have a Good Life: Lean In—to Your Relationships

How to Have a Good Life: Lean In—to Your Relationships
I was stuck for a time when I was in my 20s. My career and dating possibilities were going nowhere, and I struggled with depression. I was far from home, but one day I talked to my father about all of this over the phone. Afterward, he sent me a long, thoughtful letter. He was then in his early 50s, and he wrote that, looking back over his own life, he was convinced that the most important thing for him had always been his relationships with family and friends.  Read more...


 

When Behavior Speaks

When Behavior Speaks
I sat with my mother and her caregiver, Aliza, one afternoon in the Alzheimer’s unit of the nursing home. With my mother between us, Aliza and I chatted about the hot weather we had been having. All of a sudden my mother hauled off and punched me solidly in the arm.  Read more...


 

Droneliness

Droneliness
Concerned about an onslaught of enfeebled old people? Don’t worry, robots will take care of them! American techno-optimism knows no bounds, and so-called “age-independence” technologies are proliferating like crazy. But in a profoundly ageist culture, the implications can be disturbing. Here’s a critique, based on the latest article to catch my eye.  Read more...


 

An Ageless Tradition

An Ageless Tradition
Balloons were drifting around, bumping against the ceiling in my living room, buoyed by helium and the generosity of friends. The previous weekend, they had thrown a baby shower for me. It may have been the first time in history that a woman in her 70s had a baby shower.  Read more...


 

May Day Surprise

May Day Surprise
“Make new friends, but keep the old; one is silver and the other, gold.” —Girl Scouts

We are often reminded of the importance of keeping social as we age; isolation has proven to be hazardous to healthy aging, while friendships engage and stimulate us. I am fortunate to have longtime friends as well as newer ones. I have two friends from grade school who have been dear to me for 50 years. Every summer we meet for lunch to catch up and to recharge those life-shaping memories.  Read more...


 

Aging in Place: Is It a Pipe Dream?

Aging in Place: Is It a Pipe Dream?
On surveys, most older Americans say they want to age in place: to stay right where they are in the home they’ve lived in for years. Whenever I hear that, I wonder whether they realize just how difficult that can become. As time passes, house and yard maintenance begin to seem overwhelming; stairs can become impossible to climb. Friends move away or die, and once you have to stop driving, isolation looms.  Read more...


 

Age Is Just a Number

Age Is Just a Number
I live in a retirement community that’s age-restricted: you have to be at least 62 to move in. A 50-something friend asked me the other day why on earth I would want to live in a place that has only one age group.  Read more...


 

The Birthday Party

The Birthday Party
Recently my wife and I traveled to northern Virginia to help her Aunt Margie celebrate her 90th birthday. The luncheon party, arranged by the birthday celebrant herself, included 11 guests, all of whom (with the exception of my wife and me) were in their late 70s or 80s. As we sat around the table, I mentally added up the number of years represented by all the guests. There had to be at least 750 years of combined life among this group. That’s a lot of living and a lot of experience. And everyone was still very much “with it,” both mentally and physically.  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...


 

The Dance of Experience and Time

The Dance of Experience and Time
Before Scott, my beloved husband, fell from a sleeping loft, sustaining the devastating traumatic brain injury that transformed our lives, I divided experience into two distinct kinds, both of which any satisfying life depends upon. The first consists of those pleasurable, transitory experiences, often sensual—like eating, sex, art—that quickly vanish. The second is the kind of stable, future-oriented experience you build upon—work accomplished, knowledge accumulated, habit inculcated, skills expanded, resources conserved.  Read more...


 

The Intern, 2015, USA, 121 min.

The Intern, 2015, USA, 121 min.
The Intern is a Nancy Meyers movie, for sure—all sunny skies and characters with straight teeth living in Brooklyn brownstones straight from Architectural Digest. At first glance, it’s another one of Meyers’ puddle-deep salutes to woe among upwardly mobile seniors (It’s Complicated, Something’s Gotta Give). But the longer you stay with it, the more Meyers wins you over with her tale of two colleagues falling into a friendship. Of course, it helps to have Robert De Niro and Anne Hathaway obliterating the artifice.  Read more...


 

Coming Up Short

Coming Up Short
Can you talk about your finances without feeling uncomfortable? Let's face it: some topics are still off limits, even among the closest friends. I'm going to talk about income disparity, even if it IS the last taboo.  Read more...


 

Skin Hunger

Skin Hunger
Many years ago an anthropologist I interviewed suggested that older Americans probably experience something called “skin hunger”—the need to be touched more often. Once their children are grown and gone, and especially if they live alone, they crave physical contact with others.  Read more...


 

No Heirlooms for One’s Heirs?

No Heirlooms for One’s Heirs?
My wife and I were at a neighborhood cookout when one of our friends mentioned he had been in another neighbor’s basement recently to help her turn off the water to her leaking hot-water heater.  Read more...


 

Beating the Age Barrier in Online Dating

Beating the Age Barrier in Online Dating
A wedding announcement in the New York Times recorded the happy pairing of a couple who met through America’s Test Kitchen. He had founded the TV show and hired her ten years earlier. He was 62; she was 37. The announcement ended with this paragraph:
Both say they have never really given much thought to the difference in their ages. “Others may have concerns, but we don’t,” he said. “I’m in love with someone who sees the same potential in the universe as I do.”
 Read more...


 

Spanning the Generations

Spanning the Generations
I wore bell-bottoms and collected troll dolls; my mother had saddle shoes and jitterbugged. For most of my young life, I couldn't see many areas where we overlapped. Then in my 20s I worked at a restaurant with live music on weekends. The lead vocalist was a crooner whose repertoire was mostly American classics and show tunes. I may have been young relative to the audience, but this was my mother's music, the tunes she listened to on the radio when I was growing up, and as a consequence I knew every word. In fact, coworkers would joke that I could go on the television show, “Name That Tune.”  Read more...


 

Grace and Frankie (Season 1, 2015), 13 episodes, available on Netflix streaming

Grace and Frankie (Season 1, 2015), 13 episodes, available on Netflix streaming
What’s nice about Grace and Frankie—aside from seeing Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda stretching their comedic wings—is how it looks at the golden years with reality and humor. That theme runs throughout the first 13 episodes of the series. Even when the show veers toward the farcical, we root for the title characters—two not-quite friends whose lengthy marriages come to an abrupt end—far more than we recoil at their actions.  Read more...


 

The Age of Adaline, 2015, USA, 112 min.

The Age of Adaline, 2015, USA, 112 min.
Old age is frequently viewed as a flaw, as if those over 45 are incapable of enjoying life because they’re too slow, too jaded, too everything. The Age of Adaline scoffs at that notion. This charming, romantic fable doesn’t venerate youth, even though its title character has been a beautiful young woman for nearly 80 years.  Read more...


 

While We’re Young, 2014, USA, 97 min.

While We’re Young, 2014, USA, 97 min.
Getting old doesn’t just happen. You age every day, until like Cornelia and Josh in writer-director Noah Baumbach’s While We’re Young, you wonder how the hell you got here. The bittersweet fun of Baumbach’s tart comedy is how Cornelia and Josh keep dodging the hard truth: they don’t have the energy—or the stomach—to stay young. Yet they try longer than they should. We understand why. We’ve been there or soon will be. Reality bites.  Read more...


 

The ‘Young Lady’ Dance

The ‘Young Lady’ Dance
The first time I was addressed as “young lady,” I was too surprised to say anything. The doctor was evidently trying to be jocular. He was patronizing, I later realized, and wondered how other women visibly over 60 respond to this misguided attempt to be funny.  Read more...


 

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, 2015, USA, 122 min.

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, 2015, USA, 122 min.
The nicest thing about The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2011)—where a group of senior Brits get recharged in India and in a creaky hotel—was how relatable it felt. Following the characters through their highs and lows was far from a chore.  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...


 

Make New Friends but Keep the Old

Make New Friends but Keep the Old
When my sister was a young girl, she was a Girl Scout Brownie and my mom was one of the leaders of her group. The girls would often meet in our basement, and I can remember hearing them sing various songs, often as rounds, designed to impart some pearl of wisdom. The words from one of those songs have always stuck with me. "Make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver and the other, gold."  Read more...


 

Ageist Tropes Taint American Horror Story: Coven

Ageist Tropes Taint <em>American Horror Story: Coven</em>
It’s rare for women over the age of 50 to find starring work in Hollywood, unless one is Meryl Streep or Judi Dench. So I was intrigued to watch American Horror Story: Coven on FX, which features not one but three stellar actresses in their 60s (and one in her 50s): Jessica Lange (Fiona), Kathy Bates (Delphine), Frances Conroy (Myrtle) and Angela Bassett (Marie).  Read more...


 

How Old Is Too Old?

How Old Is Too Old?
I am a fan of short, online videos—the kind you see on YouTube. I often follow the links that come flooding in with my emails. I’m willing to give them a try, trusting the judgment of people in my chain of friends (and friends of friends) who have liked them well enough to pass them along.  Read more...


 

The Love of Her Life

The Love of Her Life
I guard my dear mother’s privacy as if she were still alive, but I have decided to rescue this particular part of her story from her secret archives because there are so few narratives about romance in late life. My mother met the love of her life when she was in her mid-70s. Fred (as I will call him) was three years older. They fell in love. Their affair lasted years and years; they were deep into their eighties before it suddenly ended.  Read more...


 

Imagining My Father's Story

Imagining My Father's Story
I recently read two nonfiction books about soldiers from World War II. One was the memoir Breaking the Code: A Father's Secret, a Daughter's Journey, and the Question That Changed Everything by Karen Fisher-Alaniz (2011). It is the story of a woman my age who gets to know her father as a soldier by reading the letters he wrote during his tour of duty in World War ll. Coincidentally, a long-awaited book I had on hold at the library came into my hands right after that: Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand (2010). It tells of the remarkable fortitude of one soldier fighting in the Pacific and his tumultuous life after he returned from the war.  Read more...


 

Finding “Modest Delight” in Asking for Help

Finding “Modest Delight” in Asking for Help
When I moved to a Brooklyn neighborhood with a median age of around 23, I said to myself that it would be time to move again when I could no longer hustle up the subway steps as fast as the kids. In the eight years since, I’ve gotten a little wiser. Now I’m planning to let the hipsters pass or help me with my shopping bags. I’ve even figured out that it’ll be good for both of us.  Read more...


 

Trading Amber for Gold

Trading Amber for Gold
When I left my hometown for college, I fell out of touch with everyone—except for one friend—who didn’t go on to college.  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...


 

Passion Is Contagious, Part 1

Passion Is Contagious, Part 1
The sex scene in the film Still Mine (2013) made me want to get in the sack with my husband. We haven’t been married as long as the fictional couple in question, who have racked up over 60 years together. They are awfully attractive— Genevieve Bujold as the petite, witty wife, Irene Morrison; James Cromwell as her husband Craig, 6 foot 7 of upright, craggy manhood.  Read more...


 

Passion Is Contagious, Part 2

Passion Is Contagious, Part 2
I try to see current movies featuring old actors whenever the actors are famous for their art, or the writing and direction promise to offer us real news about later life. Sometimes—often—I am disappointed. Producers choose sentimental, implausible or burlesque scripts; old actors accept the roles because there are so few available. But since 2006, stellar cinematic culture is suddenly waking us to the deep, universal themes of illness in the context of lifelong marriages. I am thinking of four absorbing films.    Read more...


 

Emily, You Remind Me of Someone

Emily, You Remind Me of Someone
Sometimes fiction is so spot-on believable, I am convinced the author must have walked in the shoes of a particular character. I recently read Emily, Alone, by Stewart O'Nan (2011) and have come to believe that he was once an 80-year-old widow.  Read more...


 

Senior Sprayers Make Their Mark

If we want to challenge negative attitudes about aging, we sometimes need to examine our own attitudes first. That’s what German seniors are doing, with the help of younger artists. This intergenerational exchange takes place in the streets rather than in museums, through spray paints rather than oil paints. Graffiti workshops and classes are popping up across the country, and they are surprisingly popular.  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)