OK, What Do We Do With The Old Folks?

All through human history there have always been old folks. However, never so damn many of us! What’s going on here? Lot of explanations, but in a way they all come down to this basic irony: Young people have been making more old people, and now aren’t quite sure what to do with us.

Our bright young medical scientists are prolonging lives. Great. I’m 81. A hundred years ago, I would probably have been dead at last 30 years. What’s happened is not only a Population Explosion but simultaneously a Health Explosion. At least in most of the nations north of the equator.

As a result, government officials are in a budget quandary…Hallmark Cards is in a selling bonanza … and grandchildren have more grandparents in their lives than ever before in history.

While everyone sorts out these consequences — both good and bad — one pattern has emerged loud and clear. With elders like us hanging around longer, our children have found a way to avoid the old tribal custom of “housing the folks in the back room” once we’re too feeble to go it alone. Behold the multi-billion dollar senior home industry.

While the experts slice-and-dice this new development, the really big issue remains unanswered. What is the best role for those of us living longer, but still in decent health? In ancient cultures — and many non-western ones still today — the elders have traditionally been seen as the “wise ones,” “the voices of experience,” “the prophets.”

Do today’s older-aged elders retain that status? deserve that status?earned that status? Something for a young culture like ours to think about the next time they drive over to Sunset Manor to visit us….

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  • According to Robert Feder. it is telling the Tribune Editorial Board that they are full of unrefried frijoles. True?

  • Jack, I hope not...

  • In reply to Jack Spatafora:

    Which basically results in a legal double negative, i.e. denying Feder's report or my characterization of the task.

    But if it isn't my characterization of the task, it is a waste of time. Then we can go back into your subject of what a senior is to do.

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