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  • You Have to Vote!

    When you go to the polls on November 4, 2008, notice the ages of those who are there to move the process along. Almost everyone will be over age 65. On that day, all across America, older adults will be arriving at voting stations at 5:30 a.m. to set up voting booths and registration confirmation tables. Many will stay at their stations for more than 12 hours, break down voting booths and tables after the polls close, and transport boxes of ballots to the precinct drop-off location later that evening.

  • At 57, I’m a Mirror Image of My 90-Year-Old Mother

    It’s kind of weird. My mother is 90 years old and I’m only 57, but we look a lot alike. The resemblance is very strong. For years, strangers have approached me and said, “Oh, you must be Reva’s daughter. You look so much alike.” My mother told me that years back, while at an out-of-town airport, an unfamiliar woman approached her and asked, “Are you Sara Myers’ mother? You look exactly alike.”

  • A Call to Action on Substandard Nursing Homes

    The New York Times recently published an article about younger people trying to experience what it’s like to be old (“Simulating Age 85, with Lessons on Offering Care”). The usual stuff, they suggested smearing petroleum jelly on eyeglasses and putting corn kernels in shoes. It’s an old approach. In response to the article, one reader suggested that to really understand what it’s like to be old, spend a week in a nursing home.

  • Did I Move to Another Country?

    Perhaps you have noticed that a large percentage of long-term care workers are immigrants. I expect that the countries of origin vary by state. In the state of Washington, caregivers are from Ethiopia and Somalia.

  • Here's the Thing

    “We’d help DJ with his homework, but there are just so many good things on TV,” said Rosanne at her son's parent-teacher conference.

    My mother fell and broke her other hip last week. The event came as a surprise—not that such events are ever expected. Usually, all plans come to a screeching halt when a family member is rushed to the hospital and has surgery the next day.

  • "Enough Already!"

    My friend and co-worker Barbara Green, MSW, gave me an article titled “Genug Syndrome,” which recounts the story of an old woman diagnosed with dementia. Genug is a Yiddish word that roughly translates to “enough already!” Published in the June 11, 2008, edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), the article was about the end of the woman’s life—the very end—moments before her final exit.

  • The Teeth Were in the Ice Cream

    I have been in the aging business for decades and have interacted with hundreds of people living with dementia, but I was stopped in my tracks when my mother began talking about dead relatives as if they were still alive and seeing things that were not there. One day I knew my mother as an intelligent, caring, take-charge person, and the next day that person had disappeared and been replaced by a profoundly confused person. I realized later that the change was probably happening all along; I just didn’t recognize it because we lived 1,600 miles apart.

  • I Can’t Make Everything Okay

    Bruno Bettelheim Said It All

    I am 57 years old and have sons aged 20 and 15. When I was pregnant, I read a few books about my pending new parent status, and a friend gave me a copy of A Good Enough Parent by Bruno Bettelheim, an Austrian psychologist famous for working with autistic kids. I'm pretty sure I actually read the whole book, but the title and the premise certainly stuck with me. Bruno said good parenting is knowing who you are, understanding your own childhood, and doing your best to be a good parent. He said that was sufficient.

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