James Sabin


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 […]

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, […]

Dogs and the Elderly

As an only child growing up in New York City, I hounded my parents for a dog.  They held fast. Then, in the eighth grade, playing stickball with friends after school, I came upon a mutt tied to a barbershop pole. The barber told me the dog had been wandering around on its own. Did […]

Lucretius and Philip Larkin Talk about Death

I hadn’t read Philip Larkin’s stunning poem Aubade until Sissela Bok quoted it in her post about Seamus Heaney. I found Larkin’s evocation of the fear of death especially chilling. What terrifies him is a vision of nothingness, not any belief in an afterlife of torment:

Coming Out about Age

When I was growing up, every 12 months I got one year older. But my mother, who turned 39 three months after my 7th birthday, remained 39. That puzzled me. My mother explained that for women, by magic, their age never clicked past 40! The French have long dealt with my mother’s reluctance to come […]

Grandma and Her Robot

As early as 1985, in A Robot in Every Home, futurist Mike Higgins predicted that “pet robots” would ultimately provide companionship for the elderly. He was right. “Service robots,” like the vacuum cleaner Roomba (on sale at Costco for $299), perform instrumental tasks. By contrast, “social/emotional robots” target the experiential aspects of our lives. Earlier […]

Avoiding Futile Care and Reducing Medicare Costs

If we in the U.S. ever hope to get a grip on Medicare costs, our society will first have to navigate a steep learning curve. That’s the lesson to take from three recent publications.  Despite the fact that Medicare is expected to represent 18% of the federal budget in 2020 (up from 15% in 2010), […]

Too Old to Drive?

On February 25, 1983, my mother drove out of the parking area behind the apartment building in Florida where she and my father lived. She suffered from gradual cognitive decline and should not have been driving. She didn’t notice an oncoming car and pulled in front of it. There was no initial sign of injury, […]

Learning from Our Elders

A recent phone call led me to reflect on how over 65ers can help younger folks learn about aging. Three months ago I received a call from Langley Danowitz, daughter of Emily Lublin, a long time patient of mine, who had died in 2000 at age 84. (Langley had seen me quoted in a New York […]

Irony, Resilience, and Late-Life Depression

I recently read two fascinating articles by Bill Randall, professor of gerontology at St. Thomas University in New Brunswick, Canada: “Aging, Irony, and Wisdom: On the Narrative Psychology of Later Life” and “The Importance of Being Ironic: Narrative Openness and Personal  Resilience in Later Life.” Two quotes convey the core perspectives I took from Randall’s […]