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Flora Davis has written scores of magazine articles and is the author of five nonfiction books, including the award-winning Moving the Mountain: The Women’s Movement in America Since 1960 (1991, 1999). She currently lives in a retirement community and continues to work as a writer.

 

Green Old Age

Green Old Age
A friend of mine recently questioned something she read on this website that presented what she called “a depressing view of aging.” She wondered why we’d included it if we’re determined to challenge ageism—which has been defined as “prejudicial attitudes toward older people, old age and aging itself.” Shouldn’t we present an entirely positive view of life’s later years?  Read more...


 

Young Blood

Young Blood
If you were offered a way to feel healthier and even look younger, would you take it? What if it required you to have repeated transfusions with the blood of teenagers or 20-somethings?  Read more...


 

No More Old Cats?

No More Old Cats?
The other day, I was hunting online for new canned foods to try out on my unbelievably picky cat, and I couldn’t help noticing all the options for “senior cats.” There didn’t seem to be anything at all for “old cats.”  Read more...


 

A Good Death

A Good Death
While I was trawling the internet one day, I came across this comment on the blog of a jazz musician: “I’ve often joked that every musician’s secret fantasy is to die on the bandstand, at a ripe old age and after a really good solo, and that’s not too far from what I’d actually like to happen a long time from now.”  Read more...


 

Where Medicare Fails

Where Medicare Fails
A friend of mine was hospitalized recently. What really worried her, she told me the day before she went in, was not the procedure she was about to have but her medical bills if the hospital decided not to admit her and instead placed her under observation.  Read more...


 

The Trials of a Top Dog

The Trials of a Top Dog
We live in a hierarchical society. Which is too bad because I’ve never wanted to be anybody’s boss or to order anyone around. That mindset may be fairly common among women of my generation—I’m in my 80s. The one time in my life when I clearly was top dog, I didn’t like it at all.  Read more...


 

Deep Reading

Deep Reading
I’ve spent my life immersed in a warm bath of fiction. I always have one novel going and another waiting. On the rare occasions when I have no new book on hand, I feel slightly panicky.  Read more...


 

An Ounce of Prevention? Maybe

An Ounce of Prevention? Maybe
I’ve always figured that the fewer medications I take, the better. If there’s something wrong with me and a drug can help, I might not have much of a choice. But dose myself daily to prevent something that might never go wrong? Every drug has some side effects. For me, it’s a hard decision to make.  Read more...


 

Reverse Mortgages: An Age-Old Bid for Security

Reverse Mortgages: An Age-Old Bid for Security
What scares most Americans more than dying? The possibility that we’ll outlive our savings.

There have been times in my life when that’s worried me. In my worst moments, I even imagined ending up as a bag lady.  Read more...


 

Overdosed?

Overdosed?
When doctors prescribe new medications for me, I always wonder whether they’re getting the dosage right. There’s a reason I’m wary, and it has nothing to do with distrusting my doctors personally.  Read more...


 

How to Have a Good Life: Lean In—to Your Relationships

How to Have a Good Life: Lean In—to Your Relationships
I was stuck for a time when I was in my 20s. My career and dating possibilities were going nowhere, and I struggled with depression. I was far from home, but one day I talked to my father about all of this over the phone. Afterward, he sent me a long, thoughtful letter. He was then in his early 50s, and he wrote that, looking back over his own life, he was convinced that the most important thing for him had always been his relationships with family and friends.  Read more...


 

Fooling the Phone Company

Fooling the Phone Company
Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose, to quote the 19th century French novelist, Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr. The more things change, the more they stay the same.  Read more...


 

He Was His Own Miracle

He Was His Own Miracle
There’s an article elsewhere on this Web site that expresses doubts about something I believe in. There’s no scientific evidence, it says, that thinking positively can keep you healthy or that being determined to fight back against an illness can help you heal. I’m not a scientist, but I’m convinced that the mind can profoundly influence what goes on in the body because I’ve seen it happen.  Read more...


 

Retire? Never!

Retire? Never!
When I was in my 30s, a friend asked whether I was saving money for retirement. I laughed. As a single mother with two small children, I could barely keep my head above water financially. No, I told her, I had nothing saved. She asked how I’d manage when I stopped working. I had no brain cells to spare to think about my old age, which seemed unreal to me anyway.  Read more...


 

Oh, to Be 70 Again

Oh, to Be 70 Again
Oh, to be 70 again with the rest of my life opening up in front of me. When I was 70, I was working for a foundation and thought it the best job I’d ever had or was likely to have. My career as a magazine writer was behind me and I had few regrets.  Read more...


 

An Ageless Tradition

An Ageless Tradition
Balloons were drifting around, bumping against the ceiling in my living room, buoyed by helium and the generosity of friends. The previous weekend, they had thrown a baby shower for me. It may have been the first time in history that a woman in her 70s had a baby shower.  Read more...


 

Aging in Place: Is It a Pipe Dream?

Aging in Place: Is It a Pipe Dream?
On surveys, most older Americans say they want to age in place: to stay right where they are in the home they’ve lived in for years. Whenever I hear that, I wonder whether they realize just how difficult that can become. As time passes, house and yard maintenance begin to seem overwhelming; stairs can become impossible to climb. Friends move away or die, and once you have to stop driving, isolation looms.  Read more...


 

Age Is Just a Number

Age Is Just a Number
I live in a retirement community that’s age-restricted: you have to be at least 62 to move in. A 50-something friend asked me the other day why on earth I would want to live in a place that has only one age group.  Read more...


 

If I Lose My Hearing, Will I Also Lose My Memory?

If I Lose My Hearing, Will I Also Lose My Memory?
I don’t hear as well as I used to. For the past few years, I’ve had to strain to follow the conversation in a crowded room, and I’ve watched television with the help of closed captions for the hearing-impaired. But like the vast majority of other Americans who have some hearing loss, I put off going to an audiologist to find out whether I needed hearing aids. Then I read something that made me think delaying the test might be a mistake.  Read more...


 

80 and Counting

80 and Counting
I’ve turned 80 and it’s a little scary. I’m healthy and still working, but I’m well aware that medical problems began for many of my friends once they were in their 80s.  Read more...


 

Time on the Run

Time on the Run
The woman sharing the elevator with me looked to be in her 70s.

“How can it be the end of the week already,” she asked, “when I feel as if Monday was just yesterday?” I felt the same way—and probably so did most of my neighbors in the retirement community where I live.

Time speeds up in your later years. Sometimes it feels like a cruel joke: the weeks and months seem to pass at warp speed just when there’s so much less time ahead of us.  Read more...


 

Scammed! A Warning

Scammed! A Warning
That day in December, my bursitis had flared up and I’d lost a filling, but what really bothered me was that my computer wasn’t working and I felt stupid. I’d fallen for a scam. What’s more, I’d just read an article about how often that happens to older Americans like me. We lose almost $13 billion a year to scams and identity theft. No wonder we’re a favorite target of con artists! I couldn’t help wondering: Would I have been so easily fooled a decade ago?  Read more...


 

How (and When) to Say ‘No’ to Your Doctor

How (and When) to Say ‘No’ to Your Doctor
In the 1950s, a doctor convinced my mother he could remove my sinus polyps with a brand-new, painless therapy: radiation. In those days, kids with adolescent acne were also getting radiation treatments. The polyps went away but the therapy was overkill. Much later, I learned that thyroid cancer is a possible side effect. Because of that experience and others, I’ve always thought that, except when I’m in dire straits, less is better when it comes to medical treatments.  Read more...


 

Do I Smell Old?

Do I Smell Old?
When I was a teenager, I worried sometimes about whether I had bad breath or BO (body odor). Advertising campaigns regularly demonized these and other normal, human smells, and that sold a lot of toothpaste, mouthwash and deodorant.  Read more...


 

The Case for Cars That Don’t Need Drivers

The Case for Cars That Don’t Need Drivers
I seldom go out at night, not because I’m such a homebody (though I am) but because my night vision is poor, and I can’t drive after dark. That definitely puts a crimp in my social life. Someday I’ll have to give up driving altogether, as most older people do. With the car keys will go my independence.  Read more...


 

Skin Hunger

Skin Hunger
Many years ago an anthropologist I interviewed suggested that older Americans probably experience something called “skin hunger”—the need to be touched more often. Once their children are grown and gone, and especially if they live alone, they crave physical contact with others.  Read more...


 

The Joy of Joining

The Joy of Joining
A rumor is making the rounds at my retirement community: we’re going to organize a flash mob. I can hardly wait.

In case you don’t know what a flash mob is, according to Wikipedia it’s a crowd that suddenly gathers, performs “an unusual and pointless act” and then just as suddenly disperses.  Read more...


 

Do Older People Deserve Senior Discounts?

Do Older People Deserve Senior Discounts?
When I flew to Montreal for a college reunion, senior discounts helped me pay for my airfare and hotel room. While I was happy to take advantage of these perks of my years, was I more deserving of such modest concessions than, say, a 20-something on the same plane?  Read more...


 

My Greatest Fear

My Greatest Fear
From my living room window, I look out on a pretty little park—and the nursing home across the way. I know someone who lives there but I haven’t visited her, I’m ashamed to say. The place scares me because it reminds me that there might be a nursing home in my future.  Read more...


 

Giving Back

Giving Back
In my husband’s last months, he fought stubbornly for his independence even when the things he insisted on doing for himself were extremely difficult for him—or were against doctors’ orders. I had to be available to care for him all day, every day, and I could see that sometimes he resented that. Meanwhile, I was reluctant to turn to friends for help. I’ve always found it hard to ask for favors.  Read more...


 

Going Nuclear in a Family Way

Going Nuclear in a Family Way
I grew up in a nuclear family—parents, kids and that was it—but I had the impression that practically everyone else in America lived in three-generation extended families. When grandparents grew old, I believed, their grown children automatically took them in, and everyone lived together like the Waltons on television.  Read more...


 

Baring All for a Good Cause

Baring All for a Good Cause
The other day, a friend told me she planned to leave her body to a medical school when she died so that students could dissect it to learn anatomy. She wanted to know whether I’d consider doing the same thing.  Read more...


 

A Life or Death Decision

A Life or Death Decision
The other day, I went to the vet with my 15-year-old dog to talk about euthanasia. A couple of my friends thought Korku was suffering and that I should free him from his infirmities. Many people refer to this as “putting down” a dog or cat, but I don’t like euphemisms. The truth is, if I did it, I’d be killing him for his own good.  Read more...


 

One-Way Conversations

One-Way Conversations
I often talk to myself, and for a long time I couldn’t figure out why. I never did my thinking out loud before my husband died. I wondered: Do I do it now because I live alone or is this typical of aging?  Read more...


 

Spring Swingers

Spring Swingers
Photo by Olivier Blouin
I lived in Montreal for half a dozen years in the 1950s, and I recall winters when the snow seemed endless. There was so much of it that the city didn’t just plow, it trucked the stuff away and dumped it in the St. Lawrence River. People said you knew it was spring when the sidewalks came up.  Read more...


 

How Old Is Too Old?

How Old Is Too Old?
I am a fan of short, online videos—the kind you see on YouTube. I often follow the links that come flooding in with my emails. I’m willing to give them a try, trusting the judgment of people in my chain of friends (and friends of friends) who have liked them well enough to pass them along.  Read more...


 

A Shortage of Heroes

A Shortage of Heroes
I think my doctor is a hero and I once told him so. He’s a geriatrician—a specialist in treating older people—and a rare find.  Read more...


 

The Community of Me

The Community of Me
When I was a child, my father bragged that my mom kept our kitchen so clean, we could eat off the floor. Mother often warned me about germs, something she worried about a lot because, back then, there were no drugs to fight infections. It wasn’t until the 1940s that antibiotics began to save lives.  Read more...


 

Playing the Old-Person Card

Playing the Old-Person Card
I was making breakfast when I heard the man from the phone company knock on my neighbor’s door. (I live in an apartment building in a huge retirement community.) I thought nothing of it—the neighbor had just moved in.  Read more...


 

Multitasking after 40

Multitasking after 40
I’ve always prided myself on my ability to multitask—I hate to do just one thing if I can manage two at the same time. I never go anywhere without a book just in case I get a chance to read. If I have to walk a few blocks, I can often finish a chapter as I plod along. I usually do my driving with a news program or talk show on the radio.  Read more...


 

Recalculating My Expiration Date

Recalculating My Expiration Date
At 79, I’m old enough to understand that I’m not immortal. Put it this way: I don’t take out five-year magazine subscriptions, but I’m still willing to buy green bananas.  Read more...


 

What Not to Say to Someone Who’s Grieving

What Not to Say to Someone Who’s Grieving
A few months after my husband died, a friend said to me, “I’m glad you’re feeling better and moving on with your life.”  Read more...


 

Are Men an Endangered Species?

Are Men an Endangered Species?
Owl Monkeys
Why is it that almost everywhere on the planet women outlive men? And how come that’s been true for centuries, at least in Europe, even though childbirth used to be a really risky proposition? These questions grabbed me while I was researching an article on life expectancy for SCF.  Read more...


 

Good News for Those with Chronic Conditions

Good News for Those with Chronic Conditions
In 2008, my husband pitched backward down a flight of stairs and suffered a brain injury that cost him his sense of balance. Despite the walker he reluctantly used after that, he often fell, and I was told that if he hit his head again, the blow could be fatal.  Read more...


 

Watch Your Language!

Watch Your Language!
Never use the word old. That’s the advice everyone gives us, but it’s hard to follow on a website devoted to the subject of aging.  Read more...


 

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Our Mission

The Silver Century Foundation promotes a positive view of aging. The Foundation challenges entrenched and harmful stereotypes, encourages dialogue between generations, advocates planning for the second half of life, and raises awareness to educate and inspire everyone to live long, healthy, empowered lives.

Notable Quote

"It is not by muscle, speed, or physical dexterity that great things are achieved, but by reflection, force of character, and judgment; in these qualities old age is usually not poorer, but is even richer."

Cicero (106-43 BC)