Archive for the ‘Age’ Category

Service of Aging Gracefully

Monday, March 12th, 2018

Rita Moreno receiving Oscar in 1962. Photo: amazon.com

My Aunt Dickie had a needlepoint pillow which read: “Old age is not for sissies.” How right was her pillow, though you’d never know it on the surface of things in some cases.

At the Oscars Eva Marie Saint took my breath away as did Rita Moreno and Jane Fonda. They are 93, 86 and 80 years old respectively but you could have fooled me. Ask Google about Fonda and among her list of accomplishments is “fitness guru.” I’ll say! Moreno wore a 56 year old dress—the one she had on when she received the Oscar for her role in “West Side Story” and she looked magnificent. As for Ms. Saint, she was elegant and sounded fabulous and closer to sixty than 100.

Doris Kearns Goodwin. Photo: biography.com

Hearing writer-historians such as David McCollough, 84, and Doris Kearns Goodwin, 75, rattle off dates and events dotted with fascinating facts and anecdotes without peering at a note is a thrill. Few can remember half as much and in such vivid detail at any age.

Here’s another example closer to home. To counter the ravages of Parkinson’s my husband, with a lifelong almost terminal allergy to any and all things exercise, has completed a grueling four weeks of practically daily physical therapy with stretches and sit/standing homework on top of it. Many days he can hardly get out of bed yet no matter how weak and queasy he feels off he goes to Sutton Place Physical Therapy returning exhausted and often cheerful. He’s cancelled only once—on one of the snowstorm days. He says that his head has felt clearer than it has in years making it easier for him to do tax prep, write—already gifted he works on improving—and preparing dinners restaurant chefs would admire.

Some Medicare-eligible citizens are blessed with genes that help keep them feeling and appearing youthful and are relatively disease-free; others have great facelift and fitness support teams and still others have the belly to fight. Will increasing numbers of high profile older folks who hit life out of the park positively impact prejudice against workers 45+ especially in some industries as film–for women in particular–advertising and PR to name a few? Do you know of any remarkable seniors you’d like to call out?

 

Homer Byington

 

Service of Giving Up Trying

Monday, January 25th, 2016

Older woman Rolex

When I read Jennifer Weiner’s piece, “One Day We Can Stop Trying, Right?” in a recent Sunday New York Times “Review” section, I immediately thought of my friend Harriet. In her 80s, less than a week before her death, she went with her companion to Daffy’s, a now defunct discount fashion store, looking for pretty things to wear. I can hear Harriet calling down from heaven with an answer to the question in Weiner’s headline. We’d hear an ear-splitting “NO.”

Harriet always looked terrific, her hair just-so. I remember a striking cornflower blue sweater she wore on one of the last days I saw her. She was indomitable, for years traveling alone across country to meetings with a bag full of meds and a horrifying lineup of chronic conditions that might have kept most close to home. [I didn’t learn about her illnesses for years and only then when I went to the hospital with her in Boston when she fell and broke her arm.]

gray hair style 4Was Harriet trying to look young or to get the most out of her life? She always wanted to look good and enjoyed compliments about her wardrobe, which were well-deserved.

I felt that Ms. Weiner implied that because a woman wants to look good it means she wants to look young and given the examples she chose to illustrate her piece, weight has a lot, if not everything, to do with achieving the goal. [I think that some women of all shapes and sizes who “dress too young” look older than they are especially when it comes to décolleté evening dresses that reveal old wrinkly skin and saggy breasts, but this is off topic].

Gray hair style 3She also seemed to be critical when she wrote, “The truth, as any woman can tell you, is that there’s no place, no profession, nowhere that a woman’s looks don’t matter.” And she used as an example members of a London group called Overweight Haters Ltd, who handed out nasty cards about gluttony to overweight people on the Tube. I have friends who are not thin and always look grand. Think about the giant benefit of being zaftig: You don’t have wrinkles.

In one of two major examples, Weiner maligned Oprah for promoting Weight Watchers as its spokesperson. She argued that such diets don’t work because the weight loss doesn’t last and suggested what if instead of “investing in paid diets and microdermabrasion, we donated our dollars to worthy charities and gave our time to the food pantry or elementary school? What if we thought about adding things to our lives—new foods, new skills, new classes, new walking routes—instead of taking things away?” Rather than following the Weight Watchers slogan “Lose weight and gain so much more,” she suggested for the new year that we “look beyond the superficial and all resolve to make more of ourselves, not less.”

Three womenCan’t women do all this and look good at the same time whether or not they are thin?

She criticized Kyle Smith of The New York Post. He responded to Carrie Fisher’s plea to fans via tweets that they stop discussing whether or not she’d aged well since the last time they saw her almost 40 years ago as Princess Leia Organa in “Star Wars” when she was 19. [One would hope she’d aged….goodness me!] She’d lost weight for the new film and Weiner wrote that Smith posited Fisher should thank the studio for making her healthy. She verbally winced at the contention that thin equaled healthy.

Fashion designer Eileen Fisher and her daughter Sasha

Fashion designer Eileen Fisher and her daughter Sasha

If a woman wants to look her best, does that mean she wants to look young and must be thin? What about men? Don’t most want to look good? Is there a point at which a woman or a man in good health, with sufficient funds, should stop trying and say, “To heck with it, I can’t be bothered to clean myself up for any reason or occasion?” And doesn’t attitude play a part?

Older woman Lanvin

 

Service of Dependability

Monday, January 3rd, 2011

watchdog

I have mentored amazing college and grad students for years and have been impressed by hundreds of accomplished scholarship applicants since I’ve served on the New York Women in Communications Foundation scholarship committee. This is why I was distressed by the observation of a person I met over the holidays who described his experience hiring assistants.

onthephoneWhen an applicant calls him, he’ll say, “Please call me next Wednesday between noon and 2 and I’ll be able to speak with you then,” [or whatever day and timeframe they agree is convenient for both]. He said that he never again hears from 75 percent of job seekers. He explained why he always does this. “I can teach almost anyone what they need to know to help me, but I require a dependable person.”

I mentioned this to a friend who wasn’t surprised. He said that an assistant he’d recently hired arrived late his first day at the ad agency. He immediately called the young man into his office and said: “This isn’t going to work. Goodbye,” and noted, “Can you imagine arriving late on your first day at a new job?”

clockI was almost late for my first day at a new magazine. I couldn’t find the building! [Interviews took place at a borrowed office elsewhere.] The address would have put it in the middle of Madison Avenue. This happened long before cell phones. Turns out the publisher had given everyone the wrong street number–and because I’d left home in plenty of time, I was on time after dashing into every building on either side of Madison Avenue until I found the right one.

We have a furnace contract with the company that sells us fuel for the house yet we are insecure every time we call the company in an emergency because while the repair people might seem to fix the immediate problem, they inevitably create other ones. Meanwhile, we’ve found a young man who knows his boilers and furnaces and we sleep well after he’s installed the correct valves and reversed some of the incomplete “fixes” that the oil company staffers have made.

furnaceYou may wonder why we know that something’s wrong. Last week, after an emergency visit by the oil company repairman, the wall next to the furnace room shook violently when the furnace kicked in, something it had never before done, and we heard a new noise–that turned out to be air–that sounded like spitting water. We called in the specialist. He identified and fixed the problem in minutes and told us we can safely hold off on a major repair that the oil company person told us we must tend to ASAP.

Why doesn’t this articulate, knowledgeable and reliable young man have an assistant? None have worked out, he said. He hires his brothers or Dad when he needs a hand.

And it’s not just young people and assistants these days. When criticized for not returning to NJ after the late December blizzard snarled roads and highways, Governor Christie [whose Lt. Governor was out of state at the same time] said he’d promised to take his children to Disneyland and his children come first. He was in a rush to leave before the storm so he moved up his departure time. He could easily have sent his kids along with his wife and gone to be with them when the emergency was over. He obviously thinks it was an emergency–he requested Federal aid as a result of the storm. Think he’d fire an assistant or subordinate with an approach like his?

Has the Valley Girl-inspired “whateverrrrrr” word misled some people to think that any old how or any which way and/or time is acceptable? Is dependability perception or reality? Is dependability overrated? Please share some examples of reliable and dependable people and/or those who act less so.

 valley-girl

Service of Follow-Ups II

Friday, October 29th, 2010

details

I like to follow up on the topics covered. I did so last on January 14.

Being a twitch, details are important to me-and to service. I covered the topic directly in Service of Details and Service of Being Detail Oriented.

Here’s the update, where someone wasn’t:

riverhouseThe Wall Street Journal ran a headline, “Condo is Sold, After A Decade,” in the “Greater New York” section on October 9/10. The article went on to describe the sale of an important apartment in one of the most high profile cooperatives in the city, River House. Most New Yorkers know the difference between a co-op and a condo even if they rent. What happened to the headline writer at the Journal? [Most simply, in a condo, you get a deed to your apartment; in a co-op, you own shares in a corporation and must be approved by a board. In both you pay monthly maintenance.]

abovebelowService of Ka-ching was about the cockamamie new and unimproved New York State voting system. The election is on Tuesday. Last week, The New York Post reported that the instructions tell voters to fill in the oval above the name of your choice of candidate when it should be the oval below. More “details” than “Ka-ching? Wherever it fits, it’s a disgrace.

After I wrote about the Service of Age and, among other things, discussed the riots in France where workers wanted to stop at 60, not 62, I thought “what in the Sam Hill are these people going to do for 40 years?” A fellow office tenant told me today about a marketing class she is taking at the Fashion Institute of Technology. She didn’t know about this blog or previous post when she described her wonderful professor who founded FIT’s communications and advertising department. He’s 86.

We’ve covered deception quite a few times, most recently in Service of Who are We Fooling? I thought of it when I read Katy Tomasulo’s study, “95% of Green-Marketed Products Utilize Misleading Claims,” published on ebuild. The title says it all-except the subhead and second paragraph gave me pause. The subhead: “While only 5% of the 5,300 products examined by TerraChoice were free of some form of greenwashing, the results, including in the construction sector, showed improvement over last year.” Similarly the second paragraph: “On a positive note, that 95% is an improvement over last year, in which only 2% of studied products were free of greenwashing (and only 1% in 2007).” I need to write about green products soon. I’ve been putting it off.

Any thoughts on these updates or other follow-ups to share?

 update2

Service of Age

Monday, September 27th, 2010

oldworkingWe first wrote about this subject in “Service Cut Short By The Clock,” where reader and frequent commenter Lucrezia asked: “Is mandatory retirement constitutional?  Is it discriminatory?” She was referring to New York State Chief Justice Judith Kaye who was being forced to retire at 70 according to New York State law.

In light of recent news, I’ve been thinking of this subject and JBS’s comment to “Service of Compassion in Medical Care” inspired me to move on it now. JBS wrote about her internist who listens to his patients. “And what sympathy I got when I was pushed out of my job at 64, and the stories I heard from him then and since about how terrible this is to do to older people whose minds are working well and were putting in a full day (or more) of work. It’s obvious I’m not the only patient he knows that this has happened to. I’ll bet many of your readers can relate.”

strikeSimultaneously, workers in France are going on strike because they don’t want the official retirement age to move from 60 to 62. In this country, according to Social Security online, “Full retirement age (also called ‘normal retirement age’) had been 65 for many years. However, beginning with people born in 1938 or later, that age gradually increases until it reaches 67 for people born after 1959.”

We all know countless productive people at all sorts of older ages but a few of the most prominent ones in the news begin with Sidney Harmon, 92, who recently bought Newsweek.

Democrat Congressman Charlie Rangel won a New York City primary the other week and most of the talk involved his running–and winning–in spite of ethics charges against him. I didn’t hear anyone note that the man being 80 years old was any kind of deterrent.

Octogenarian Warren Buffett is no slouch. When he speaks or invests millions listen or follow.

Along with being interviewed frequently for his political opinions which made me think of him, former New York City Mayor Ed Koch, born in 1924 according to Wikipedia, regularly reviews movies and contributes columns to the Huffington Post.

Do these people represent a sea change or trickle in the public’s mindset about older people and their potential productivity? Is it any easier for older people to get jobs and clients these days? What people over 80 can you name who still work and/or continue to be productive? As long as your health holds up, how long do you want to work?

oldperson

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