Blog Posts - families

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Lying to Mom?

Lying to Mom?
A few years ago, a New York Times New Old Age blog had me thinking about my mother's later-life driving. The blog is about lying to an older person, ostensibly for his or her own good. In one tale, a grown daughter sabotages her mother's driver's license renewal to avoid confrontation over concerns about waning driving skills.  Read more...


 

Let’s Get Intergenerational!

Let’s Get Intergenerational!
A century ago, Americans didn’t need programs to connect the generations: homes and communities housed people of all ages. But as people started living longer and moving into cities, we started thinking differently about those at both ends of the age spectrum. Schooling became mandatory, child labor was outlawed and Social Security and Medicare made a secure retirement possible for millions. The benefits were significant, but so was the downside: the natural order of things was subverted, and the generations lost contact. Our society is now acutely age segregated.  Read more...


 

10 Vital Truths about Aging and Health

10 Vital Truths about Aging and Health
All around the world, people are living longer—a basic hallmark of human progress and a triumph of public health. The World Health Organization (WHO) is in the public health business, and no organization has done more to raise awareness of ageism—the biggest obstacle to meeting the challenges of population aging …. Part of the WHO’s global, anti-ageism campaign is a new list of 10 facts that correct common “Misconceptions on ageing and health.” The global perspective is instructive, and it’s making me rethink some things—including the burning question of whether to start spelling “ageing” the logical, British-and-Indian way. Here is the WHO’s list, along with my comments.  Read more...


 

Weighty Issue

Weighty Issue
Are we teaching our children today what they need to know to assure good health beyond childhood and throughout their lives?  Read more...


 

What Good Are Support Groups?

What Good Are Support Groups?
This was Chester’s first time at our caregiver support group. A man in his 70s, he told us about his wife who has Alzheimer’s disease and has become anxious whenever he is out of sight.  Read more...


 

The Happiness Check

The Happiness Check
I received a milestone-birthday gift from a dear, longtime friend. It was a generous monetary gift that came with a caveat: I must spend it on myself. No college tuition help, no car repair, no electric bill—I had to spend it on something that made me happy.  Read more...


 

Mom's Bridge Club

Mom's Bridge Club
Lately I'm reading a surprising number of memoirs written by adult children about their experiences with their parent(s) as they age. I find myself identifying so often with the authors' stories, though my parents are no longer living.  Read more...


 

Preserving Autonomy against the Odds

Preserving Autonomy against the Odds
When the doctor diagnosed my mother with probable Alzheimer’s, he also told her, “I want you to stop driving.” He said her reflexes and judgment weren’t good enough.  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...


 

Books to Give or Keep in 2016

Books to Give or Keep in 2016
It’s that time of year—when I am asked to recommend books I’ve read to friends who are working on their gift lists. I primarily seek out new fiction, but I enjoy deviating for an interesting memoir. Each of these books connects to aging, from midlife on up.  Read more...


 

Does She Still Recognize You?

Does She Still Recognize You?
An acquaintance I ran into at the supermarket stopped me with that question. It was one I got frequently when my mother was in the later stages of Alzheimer’s.

The question made me uncomfortable. It seemed intrusive coming from someone I wasn’t close to, and it was hard to answer. The truth was complicated.  Read more...


 

New Names for Today's Households

New Names for Today's Households
As I wrote in a previous blog about older kids returning to live with their parents, it really wasn't that long ago that it was okay, respectable even, for a young adult to live at home until marriage. Then it became almost unheard of in my generation. And now, everything old being new again, 85 percent of college grads return home before flying solo, according to Time magazine. Sociologist Katherine Newman, author of The Accordion Family: Boomerang Kids, Anxious Parents, and the Private Toll of Global Competition (2012), says it's a global issue.  Read more...


 

They're Baaaaack!

They're Baaaaack!
I was intrigued to read a Gallup-poll finding that 14 percent of 24- to 34-year-olds are living with their parents, and more than half of 18- to 23-year-olds are still at home (or are back there again).  Read more...


 

Adrift in Time

Adrift in Time
I was taking my mother to Maine to visit her brother. They had lived in New Jersey within a few blocks of each other their entire lives until, due to her dementia, she moved in with me. A month later, he and my aunt moved to Maine to be near their daughters. I knew my mother missed him, so I thought this trip would make her happy. Indeed, she was overjoyed when I told her we were going.  Read more...


 

Very Pinteresting

Very Pinteresting
Lonely? Can't find your best girlfriends, not even on Facebook? Don't despair; I know where they all went. They are on Pinterest (pronounced like interest, only starting with a p, pin-trest).  Read more...


 

Homesick

Homesick
Two friends of mine recently experienced something you don't hear about often: grieving the loss of their childhood homes. For people who spent a long stretch of their formative years at a single address, the childhood home is a repository of memories, an emotional scrapbook of sorts.  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...


 

In Dog Years

In Dog Years
Have you met my dog, Ruffles? At her annual well-dog visit, my vet referred to her as geriatric. Ruffles is almost a decade young, and sure, she is a little grayer and sometimes doesn't make the leap onto the bed on her first try, but geriatric?  Read more...


 

The Thriller

The Thriller
The summer I turned 14, I spent a month at the Lake Erie resort town of Cedar Point with a friend whose parents ran a food concession on the boardwalk, which boasted the highest roller coaster in Ohio. It was called The Thriller and I fell in love with it. I hung around it so much that the daytime manager, seeing my passion, eventually allowed me to ride for free in the mornings, when there weren't many customers. One day I decided to see how many consecutive rides I could clock without stopping and rode for two and a half hours straight. Even so, the thrill of the slow clank to the top, followed by the heart-stopping plunge to the bottom, continued unabated.  Read more...


 

Addicted to Tech

Addicted to Tech
My teens are considered “digital natives,” because they grew up with computers and other tech marvels. I, on the other hand, am considered a “digital immigrant,” because computing is a foreign language to me and people in my age bracket. I will say, though, that just to stay relevant, I took up computers as a second language, and I'm connected almost all the time with my smartphone, tablet, laptop and home desktop. I'm not “fluent” like my younger friends, but I'm not in the dark either. I know folks who never turn off their tech. I'm not one of them, but I followed along with a radio quiz about tech habits, conducted by a therapist, to determine if I am “addicted” to tech. I take lots of quizzes. Maybe I should see if I am addicted to quizzes.  Read more...


 

I Shopped, I Dropped

I Shopped, I Dropped
Not too long ago my daughter needed some retail therapy. She works part time, had just gotten paid, and she could hear the stores calling her. The mall was the last place I wanted to be on the weekend, but I was a teenage girl once, and I knew exactly how she felt. In the absence of any BFFs, I was her default shopping partner. Now it was me, not the teenager, with the big sighs and eye rolls.  Read more...


 

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Should I Stay or Should I Go?
While enduring the long and miserable winter of 2014-2015, my thoughts increasingly turned to getting out of New Jersey for someplace warm. A brief visit to Charleston, SC, in March—where I had to go out to buy some short-sleeved shirts—made me ask the question The Clash posed in 1982, “Should I stay or should I go?”  Read more...


 

No Heirlooms for One’s Heirs?

No Heirlooms for One’s Heirs?
My wife and I were at a neighborhood cookout when one of our friends mentioned he had been in another neighbor’s basement recently to help her turn off the water to her leaking hot-water heater.  Read more...


 

Betrayed by an Author

Betrayed by an Author
Why wouldn't I read a memoir by Joyce Carol Oates? She is a widow, as am I, she lives nearby, and books from her prolific writing career have graced my nightstand frequently over the years. So I bought a copy of A Widow's Story: A Memoir. It seems odd to say that I looked forward to reading the intimate details of her grieving, but I did eagerly await this particular memoir, even if the sharing of our grief was to be one sided.  Read more...


 

Spanning the Generations

Spanning the Generations
I wore bell-bottoms and collected troll dolls; my mother had saddle shoes and jitterbugged. For most of my young life, I couldn't see many areas where we overlapped. Then in my 20s I worked at a restaurant with live music on weekends. The lead vocalist was a crooner whose repertoire was mostly American classics and show tunes. I may have been young relative to the audience, but this was my mother's music, the tunes she listened to on the radio when I was growing up, and as a consequence I knew every word. In fact, coworkers would joke that I could go on the television show, “Name That Tune.”  Read more...


 

Age, Trauma and Contentment

Age, Trauma and Contentment
Unaware of his accident or his dementia, my husband attributes his lack of short-term memory—the result of a traumatic brain injury that left him, at 75, like someone with advanced Alzheimer's—simply to aging.  Read more...


 

An Old Lesbian Reacts to the Supreme Court Decision on Same-Sex Marriage

An Old Lesbian Reacts to the Supreme Court Decision on Same-Sex Marriage
Like others my age, I never expected my country to end my second-class-citizen status. The swiftness of the movement from gay rights legislation to same-sex marriage in some states to the June 26, 2015, ruling for marriage in all states takes my breath away. Yes, the Supremes were expected to rule as they did. And the vile comments by Justice Antonin Scalia remind everyone that bigotry has not been vanquished. But what a time of celebration for people who, when I was young, were judged sick or sinful or both, and in my middle age were struggling against long odds for basic civil rights.  Read more...


 

From Babyproofing to Grannyproofing, Don't Ignore This Health Checkup!

From Babyproofing to Grannyproofing, Don't Ignore This Health Checkup!
My mother's safety became a concern to me as she aged. My mom lived alone and hated to ask for help. We both wanted to keep her safe and independent.  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...


 

Something's Fishy

Something's Fishy
Pick up any women's magazine or any healthy-living publication and you are sure to be admonished to eat more fish. It's good for your brain, your weight, your longevity. I know!  Read more...


 

Woman in Gold, 2015, UK, USA, 109 min.

Woman in Gold, 2015, UK, USA, 109 min.
Woman in Gold is an unabashed crowd pleaser. Like 2013’s Philomena, Woman in Gold is based on a true story involving an older woman resolving her past. But we don’t mind the similarity. The performances here are sturdy and winning; the emotions feel true. Woman in Gold works to win our affections.  Read more...


 

Chastizing the Old Dolls

Chastizing the Old Dolls
Poor Roz Chast unburdened herself of her dislike of her mother and her pity for her father by describing their slow decline and dying, and doing it in the most public possible way, in a graphic narrative called Can’t We Talk about Something More Pleasant?: A Memoir (2014).  Read more...


 

Still Alice, 2014, USA, 101 min.

Still Alice, 2014, USA, 101 min.
Still Alice tracks a family’s changing dynamics after a life-shattering diagnosis and serves as a showcase for Julianne Moore, whose beautiful, freshly Oscar-winning work allows us to see her family’s struggles as part of the title character’s long, losing battle with herself. The movie proceeds at an uncomfortably languid pace until the end, when we’re shaken.  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...


 

I Lied to My Father on His Deathbed

I Lied to My Father on His Deathbed
My generation has been called the sandwich generation, people in middle age who bear some level of responsibility for their children and their parents. While reliable statistics are not readily available, it is estimated that almost half of people in their 50s and early 60s find themselves in this demographic.  Read more...


 

The Accident

The Accident
One day it happens, the dreaded event that will change your life, the more ominous because you don't know what form it will take or when it will occur. To me it happened on July 22, 2004, at two a.m. on a Maine coastal island in a remote, seaside cabin, with no electricity, plumbing or road, when my beloved husband fell nine feet from a sleeping loft and injured his brain.  Read more...


 

Oh, Grow Up!

Oh, Grow Up!
That was my visceral (and ever so mature) reaction to “Who Are You Calling Grandma?,” a fluff piece in the New York Times about how baby boomer grandparents, especially celebs, are rejecting traditional grandmonikers for hipper titles. Apparently Gwyneth Paltrow’s mother, the actress Blythe Danner, lobbied for Woof (unsuccessfully; Lalo won out), while Goldie Hawn’s son saved the day by coming up with Glam-Ma.  Read more...


 

Great Reads for the Book Lovers on Your Holiday List

Great Reads for the Book Lovers on Your Holiday List
I love to give books as gifts. I strive to match the book to the recipient the way some givers try to find the right scarf or tie—I want to make eyes sparkle. If you are shopping for a book this holiday season, I have a quick list that will please a reader in midlife and beyond.  Read more...


 

Make New Friends but Keep the Old

Make New Friends but Keep the Old
When my sister was a young girl, she was a Girl Scout Brownie and my mom was one of the leaders of her group. The girls would often meet in our basement, and I can remember hearing them sing various songs, often as rounds, designed to impart some pearl of wisdom. The words from one of those songs have always stuck with me. "Make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver and the other, gold."  Read more...


 

Empty Nest

Empty Nest
Early this spring, one of my Facebook friends posted a photo of a robin’s nest that had appeared in a lilac bush outside her porch. A few days later, she posted another picture: the nest now had two beautiful, blue eggs resting in it. And then, a few weeks later, a photo of the nestlings, their necks extended to the sky, their mouths wide open waiting for their next meal. This was followed, predictably, by a final image—the nest was empty again.  Read more...


 

Time to Rethink Ink

Time to Rethink Ink
Tattoos—love them or hate them? If you are like me, you shudder at the thought. The mere word can conjure movie images of bikers, sailors, trollops—not to mention the creepy, all-night tattoo parlors—and brings to mind a long-held belief that tattoos are for someone who fits a mold to which I do not aspire.  Read more...


 

Imagining My Father's Story

Imagining My Father's Story
I recently read two nonfiction books about soldiers from World War II. One was the memoir Breaking the Code: A Father's Secret, a Daughter's Journey, and the Question That Changed Everything by Karen Fisher-Alaniz (2011). It is the story of a woman my age who gets to know her father as a soldier by reading the letters he wrote during his tour of duty in World War ll. Coincidentally, a long-awaited book I had on hold at the library came into my hands right after that: Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand (2010). It tells of the remarkable fortitude of one soldier fighting in the Pacific and his tumultuous life after he returned from the war.  Read more...


 

The Consoling Power of Art

The Consoling Power of Art
There are an estimated 42 million unpaid family caregivers in this country (including me), not counting the millions more caring for chronically ill or disabled children, so it’s a shock to learn that the first anthology of poems and short stories about caregiving has just been published in the United States. Not that there aren’t hundreds of helpful nonfiction books, journals, newsletters, websites, blogs, as well as memoirs and novels on the subject, covering every category of patient or need. But a single-volume collection of outstanding short fiction and poetry, reflecting many different takes on this widespread, life-altering experience, has until now been missing, leaving an empty space in our hungry consciousness. Living in the Land of Limbo: Fiction and Poetry about Family Caregiving (Vanderbilt, 2014), Carol Levine’s selection of fiction and poetry about caregiving by some of the most accomplished writers of our time, is an excellent start to filling it.  Read more...


 

Fifty Years of Shopping with My Mother

Fifty Years of Shopping with My Mother
Not just in childhood, but deep into my middle years, my mother and I shopped together. I got most of my clothes on those expeditions, and she paid for a great many of them. It didn’t occur to me that any of this was unusual until a former roommate of mine, now with a daughter in her 20s, said that she had long admired my mother’s example and was “still” buying clothes for her delighted progeny.  Read more...


 

Uncle Ralph

Late one cloudy October afternoon, my sister sent me an email with the two-word subject “Uncle Ralph.” I knew before opening it what the email would say. I knew it would say that Uncle Ralph had died.  Read more...


 

The Doomed Experiment in Intergenerational Living

The Doomed Experiment in Intergenerational Living
I recently picked up Katie Hafner's Mother Daughter Me: A Memoir (2013). All it took was a glance at the book jacket for me to know that the author was telling part of my story along with her own.  Read more...


 

Fear of Falling

Fear of Falling
My sister-in-law took a tumble down a few steps the other day, ending up in the ER with a badly sprained ankle. Claire is my age, mid-50s, and she is in good physical health. She even does Italian folk dancing for fun. She was doing some chores around the house, not in a rush, not dizzy, just a little preoccupied, and fell with her laundry basket. I don't often hear of 50-somethings losing their footing on the stairs, but I'm sure it could happen to anyone. In fact, I worry that it will happen to me!  Read more...


 

Who’ll Be in Charge When We Die?

Who’ll Be in Charge When We Die?
The lines used to be drawn more sharply for me when it came to assisted suicide, now more often called “aid in dying.” After all, I had in-the-trenches experience. My mother was a charter member of the Hemlock Society, the first national right-to-die organization. (It has since merged with Compassion & Choices, which works to “expand choice at the end of life,” and to which I’ve belonged for decades.) She did eventually commit suicide, a decision I’ll probably never fully come to terms with, but which I respect. Because she was unwaveringly clear, so is my conscience. I’ve promised my children I won’t follow their grandmother’s example. But I too hope to control the circumstances under which I die.  Read more...


 

Emily, You Remind Me of Someone

Emily, You Remind Me of Someone
Sometimes fiction is so spot-on believable, I am convinced the author must have walked in the shoes of a particular character. I recently read Emily, Alone, by Stewart O'Nan (2011) and have come to believe that he was once an 80-year-old widow.  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)