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This Week in Elder News: 8 November 2008

Posted Nov 10 2008 4:51pm

In this regular weekend feature you will find links to news items from the preceding week related to elders and aging, along with whatever else catches my fancy that I think you might like to know. Suggestions are welcome with, however, no promises of publication.

In at least one polling place in Georgia on Tuesday, elders who use wheelchairs and walkers were – illegally - prevented from voting until late in the day. In some places, elders who are physically incapable of standing for hours in long lines were allowed to go to the front, but that wasn’t so everywhere.

Long waiting times amount to an elder poll tax, as do polling stations with stairs that lack elevators. Next time, we elders should take it upon ourselves to communicate with our election boards long before election day to ensure access for everyone.

I’ve long insisted that the youngest baby boomers (44 this year) have next to nothing in common with oldest (62 this year). Here’s a story that discusses the differences and why President-elect Obama, born in 1961, has tried to distance himself from the boomer generation he is technically part of.

A new survey of more than 3,000 Americans who were questioned twice nine years apart finds that young and middle-aged people tend to underestimate their past happiness and overestimate their future happiness. Elders, on the other hand, those 65 and older, are more realistic and accurate in their assessments. The researchers believe they understand the reason. More here. ( Hat tip to Stan James of Wandering Stan )

YES! At last I’ve found someone else who objects to anyone 60 and older being referenced as elderly:

“Bag the 'elderly' tag, she said - the preferred terminology these days is ‘seniors’ or ‘older adults’.”

Personally, I find “seniors” and particularly “senior citizens” a bit dusty, terms that in time have become pejorative even when not intended to be so. “Older adults” is an improvement, but I’d like to see and hear “elders” more often. More here.

Among the election post mortems, some suggest that ageism played a bigger role than racism in how people voted. Exit polls revealed that of those who factored age into their choice, 78 percent voted for Senator Obama.

I don’t think that 72 is necessarily too old to begin a presidency, but the lack of the full disclosure of Senator McCain’s health records was worrisome and worth consideration. Some more thoughts here.

Reader and frequent TGB commenter Mary Jamison sent along this bittersweet poem, Lucky, by Tony Hoagland:

If you are lucky in this life,
you will get to help your enemy
the way I got to help my mother
when she was weakened past the point of saying no.

Into the big enamel tub
half-filled with water
which I had made just right,
I lowered the childish skeleton
she had become.

Her eyelids fluttered as I soaped and rinsed
her belly and her chest,
the sorry ruin of her flanks
and the frayed gray cloud
between her legs.

Some nights, sitting by her bed
book open in my lap
while I listened to the air
move thickly in and out of her dark lungs,
my mind filled up with praise
as lush as music,

amazed at the symmetry and luck
that would offer me the chance to pay
my heavy debt of punishment and love
with love and punishment.

And once I held her dripping wet
in the uncomfortable air
between the wheelchair and the tub,
and she begged me like a child

to stop,
an act of cruelty which we both understood
was the ancient irresistible rejoicing
of power over weakness.

If you are lucky in this life,
you will get to raise the spoon
of pristine, frosty ice cream
to the trusting creature mouth
of your old enemy

because the tastebuds at least are not broken
because there is a bond between you
and sweet is sweet in any language.

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