General


Income and Life Expectancy

Today’s New York Times has an excellent article on income and longevity that compares Fairfax County, Virginia, to McDowell County, West Virginia. In Fairfax, median household income is $107,000. In McDowell it’s about one-fifth of that. In Fairfax, the average life expectancy for men is 82. For women it’s 85. In McDowell, the comparable life […]

Remembering Sherwin Nuland

The death last week of Dr. Sherwin Nuland, author of the prize-winning 1994 book, How We Die, reminded me of a line in that book “about our society’s denial of the naturalness, even the necessity of death.” Death in an ICU, he wrote, was the “purest form” of that denial, but more broadly he wrote, […]

Aging and Balance

Like many other skills we take for granted, our upright posture and balance are amazing unappreciated functions.  Imagine balancing a five or six foot top-heavy object on a one foot base and you get a sense of how precarious it is for us to stay upright, no less add movement, twists and turns, leaning and […]

AARP: Shades of Old Age

A little over a year ago I went off salary at The Hastings Center, keeping a few duties but losing the formal status that gave me health insurance through private carriers. I promptly signed up for Medicare coverage and simultaneously for the AARP medigap program. Since I write on health care and aging I was […]

Keeping Frail Elderly out of the Hospital

When I was a medical resident at Boston City Hospital, a large, public, inner city hospital, I began wondering whether hospitals sometimes caused as many problems as they cured. Over and over, I saw older patients admitted with one disease such as pneumonia or a heart attack, who ended up falling and breaking a bone […]

Aging and Anti-Aging

As the New Year arrived, many people made New Year’s resolutions. Some, I’m sure, resolved not to age, or at least to age as slowly and healthily as possible. I wondered if I should make such a resolution.  That particular question just came up as I communicated with an old high school classmate for the […]

Pulling the Plug on DNR

Recently, a friend commented that she was not sure whether or not to agree to a “DNR order” for her 90 year-old mother. Her mother has dementia and lives in a nursing home; she is her mom’s health care proxy. Complicating her decision was the knowledge that her mother had chosen a DNR status when […]

Activism by the Elderly

As a group, we over 65ers have substantial non-working time. According to the US Census Bureau, in 2011 16.2% of us participated in the labor force. The participation rate falls off steeply with age. Among 65 – 69 year old men (2010 data), 35.8% were working. For 70 – 74 year olds 20.9% were employed, […]

Our Aging World

Most of us over 65 were raised in an era dominated by a concern for excessive population growth. Paul Ehrlich made himself and that issue famous with his 1968 book, The Population Bomb. An organization called Zero Population Growth (ZPG) drew thousands of supporters who believed that not only did the developing countries have a […]

Aging Well

My mother will turn 88 in a few weeks. According to the definition of successful aging put forward by Rowe and Kahn nearly 16 years ago, she is aging quite well. Her kidneys, lungs, and heart work fine. She is still very active—she teaches a French class once a week at the local senior center, […]