Tag: aging

There Goes a Young American


The sun sets on my 20s.

In 1964, Jack Weinberg gave a simple command: “Don’t trust anybody over 30.” In his mid-20s at the time, Weinberg had just graduated from UC Berkeley, where he had been a student activist. He turned 30 on April 4, 1970. But the phrase he bequeathed hardly died with the end of his 20s. It has, instead, become a timeless refrain of youth the planet over, a shorthand valorization of the superiority of young people and novelty against the stodginess of their elders and the inheritance of the past.

A reflexive rejection of what has come before fits uneasily with conservatism, concerned as it is with historical reverence. Indeed, in the 1955 mission statement of National Review (for whose website I am submissions editor), one of William F. Buckley’s main complaints about contemporary America was that, rather than embrace its past, it was “tormented by its tradition of fixed postulates having to do with the meaning of existence, with the relationship of the state to the individual, of the individual to his neighbor, so clearly enunciated in the enabling documents of our Republic.” (Buckley was 29 when he wrote these words.)

Touring a Senior Independent Living Facility


My sister-in-law, a widow and some years older than me, recently arranged a tour of a local independent-living facility. A couple of other relatives and I tagged along for moral support and to see what it was all about. By the end of the tour I didn’t want to leave!

This was a higher-end facility, so not cheap. But it had an interesting approach that I did not know about. Yes, you pay a substantial entrance fee, and a hefty monthly service fee. And to get in you have to show that you can handle your own hygiene, medications, and be mobile enough to get from your apartment to the common area where the dining and activity rooms are. But in addition to the independent living section, there is also an assisted-living wing, and a rehab center. If you have been admitted, and need more care, you don’t pay any extra – your monthly service fee remains the same! You can move to the assisted living wing, or get rehab for as long as you need it, and your costs don’t change.

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On Thursday afternoon, while on my way to Home Depot to pick up a sheet of plywood and a couple of paint rollers, I saw something unusual while stopped at a traffic light. An elderly Asian woman was standing near a corner of the intersection, looking over her shoulder and shouting at someone or something. […]

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When a Nurse Is the Patient’s Family


Over my years at Ricochet, I’ve been very plain about my choice of career.  It’s my handle.  Most nurses feel similarly; being a nurse isn’t just a job.  It isn’t just a career.  It’s an identity.  Much like the military, nursing school tears you down to rebuild you in the form of a nurse.

We adopt this willingly at first, grudgingly later, then with resignation, then with acceptance, and later, far later, with a touch of regret, perhaps.

What Kind of Old Man Will I Be?


A couple of weeks ago, I was texting with my son, and he mentioned that he and the stand-up dame he’s been dating the last couple of years were thinking about settling down and having kids. He wanted to know what I wanted them to call me. “Grandpa, pee-paw, grandpappy? What?”

And that got me to thinking, I’m going to be an old man. The signs of the twilight that lies just beyond my horizon are already beginning to show. I sometimes watch reruns of 20+-year-old TV shows (Stargate SG-1, to be specific)  I frequently launch the wrong app on my phone. And just this last week, I had a chatty conversation with a bank teller!

When the Body Falls Apart


When we are children, we delight in running around, making forts out of huge cardboard boxes, and playing hide-and-seek. In ourteen-age years, some of us struggle with puberty and hate the world and prefer to drive a car than ride our bicycles. And then there are all those years when we simply pursue our lives, either investing our time and energy in the routine demands of living and in staying well and healthy—or not.

But at some point, mortality sneaks up and we realize that our bodies are wearing away and falling apart. I became acutely aware in my 30’s that my body was not going to get itself in shape on its own. So I decided to take seriously the effects of the passage of time.

When did the truth of mortality’s stalking occur to me especially hard? Right now, as I recover from breast cancer. It’s been nagging at my psyche for quite a while. At 71, I have many fewer years left than I’ve used up. But six months ago, my predictable lifestyle of the joys of retirement, regular exercise and diet was interrupted. And I had no idea how challenging it would be to work my way back.

Slowing Down


Over time, I’ve been nagged by an annoying thought and it just won’t go away. I’ve tried to ignore it, discount it, and ridicule it, but it is persistent. The other evening, I was walking from one room to another, and noticed my gait—slow and gentle. And there was the truth: I was slowing down, undeniably, and in some ways, disturbingly.

Now you have to understand that most of my life I have put a high value in doing things—almost anything—quickly. I might not be the smartest person, but I was fast and efficient and could run circles around many people. I took pride is this talent for a long time. Finally, I began to notice that I was striving to do things quickly that just were not all that important; they certainly did not demand my meeting a deadline. I also realized that trying to do everything at warp speed was causing me a great deal of stress, but I was the only one who seemed to care about this ability. So, I made a concerted effort to slow myself down. I realized how valuable this goal was when one day, I had rushed home from a work-out and had another obligation to fulfill—not one I was particularly interested in. I decided I simply was not going to rush, but instead took my time. Out of curiosity, I checked the clock when I was ready to leave, and was astounded to realize that I had showered and changed in record time! It wasn’t possible! But, in fact, I discovered when I was simply attentive to what I was doing, timeliness would often take care of itself.

The Forgotten Judge


The time to speculate on Supreme Court nominations is obviously upon us. Mindful of the diversity calculations in replacing Ruth Ginsburg, President Trump has indicated that he will appoint a woman to the Court. Amy Coney Barrett, two years on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals (48 years of age) and Barbara Logoa, with considerable experience in Florida but less than one year on the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals (53 years of age), are the acknowledged front-runners. While their intelligence is not in doubt, there is a clear lack of a meaningful track record in adjudicating federal cases in both instances. Unfortunately, there also are questions of whether relatively youthful, somewhat inexperienced judges will survive the Greenhouse Effect.

As conservatives, we are rightfully skeptical of supposedly informed comments about the ideology of Supreme Court nominees. There’s no shortage of examples, and there’s nothing to be gained in regurgitating tales of betrayal well known to this audience. Then there’s Judge Diane Sykes.

It’s Hard to Get Old


We sat around the oaken table following the singing performance. My friend was sitting next to me; Eloise was sitting on my other side; and Joe sat quietly next to her. He seemed especially restrained after enjoying the music. I listened in to his conversation with Eloise:

Joe: I think it’s time for us to head home.

Kay Hymowitz joins City Journal editor Brian Anderson to discuss a challenge facing aging populations in wealthy nations across the world: loneliness. Her essay in the Spring 2019 issue, “Alone,” explores this subject.

“Americans are suffering from a bad case of loneliness,” Hymowitz writes. “Foundering social trust, collapsing heartland communities, an opioid epidemic, and rising numbers of ‘deaths of despair’ suggest a profound, collective discontent.”

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I am asking for prayers for my mother-in law.  She is our last remaining parent.  She has multiple serious health issues – she has been on multiple meds for some time.  She is 83 years old  and my husband’s family is complicated.  There are ACOA issues, and a lot of stress.  She has been admitted […]

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Don’t misunderstand: I am not consumed with death or dying. In fact, I am in love with life and focus on my daily blessings. I’m also not talking about being alone at my deathbed, but rather about the possibility that I might be a widow one day. I am going to be 69 this year. […]

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A Biblical Meditation on Aging


It’s that time of year again. I embark this week on my journey back to my boyhood home to spend the summer on the farm taking care of my Dad. Since 1981 I have lived in Texas. When I retired in 2014, my wife and I bought the house I grew up in from my parents. Mom had passed two years prior and she had always wanted my wife and me to buy the house — she wanted the peace of mind that it would remain in the family. At that point in time, Dad had been living with Parkinson’s Disease for 10 years. His mobility was diminishing but he could still live at home. Two years later, in March 2016, we had to move him into a nursing home. We are blessed in that it is only a mile from our house and sits on 100 acres of beautiful grounds. The facility is a former convent and still has a strong connection to the Catholic Church. Many aging nuns and priests are there and daily mass is offered, along with exceptional health care. Yet, Dad is failing. I can’t believe he has lived with Parkinson’s as long as he has. He is 90 now, and not only is a physical wreck, but is starting to fail mentally. That is probably all detail that you didn’t need but it gets me to the point of this post: this beautiful reflection on the book of Ecclesiastes.

Monsignor Charles Pope begins his reflection:

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Today marks the occasion that my personal life systems was initiated to fully independent mode from the mother ship. The exact time noted on the certificate was 11:55 pm. The lucky number 7 has never had a bearing on my fortunes as near as I can tell…. so far. Being five minutes too early for […]

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On the Perception of the Passing of Time as We Age


As a kid I recall adults – my parents, my grandparents, others – every now and then talk and complain about how time flies by or some similar sentiment. When they made these statements and complaints, they weren’t talking about how quickly their workday went by or how rapidly tonight’s dinner party came and went. Instead, the context of these statements generally referred to longer time frames – how quickly the last week or the last month or six months flew by.

At the time, I didn’t really understand what they were talking about and I figured it was just something adults said. And, although it is something adults say, there is a certain truth to it. I’m in my sixties now, and I understand what those adults were talking about. I’ve understood it for a while now – I don’t know when I first experienced this phenomenon – I imagine I was around 30 years of age. As far as I know, this is a common occurrence – at some point in time most of us (all of us?) experience this perception of the speeding up of time as we age.

Of course, time doesn’t actually speed up as we age. The passing of one minute, one hour, or one day is the same for a 16-year-old as for a 60-year-old, and each would agree on the amount of time elapsed. However, after the passing of some amount of time, the time will seem to have elapsed quicker to the 60-year-old than to the 16-year-old. I don’t know why that is. I never studied psychology, neuroscience, or any discipline that might touch upon the subject. That, however, hasn’t deterred me from hypothesizing on why this is so. I have two theories about this which I wish to present and see what others may think.

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When did you, as young adult, realize that the modifier “young” was no longer applicable? For me and some of my former fraternity brothers it was when we noticed that we were no longer as hot to get the newest gadget, see the newest movie, catch the newest band as we had been in college. […]

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I just came from Eye Center South. I have been having clouded vision which has increased over the last couple years. My recent visit to eye doctor revealed…..cataracts!!! But I’m too young to have cataracts I hollered! He said he’s seen them in all ages – 20’s to 80’s! He said smoking, (not me), diabetes […]

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