In the same “Week In Review” section of the Sunday Times, published on August the 13th 2017, there was another personally vindicating commentary that made me feel in a way like the entire “Week In Review” section was written by me, but with other people’s names on the submisions. Which is fine. Who needs the attention? No really. I mean it. Although it did honestly feel like the “Earl” section that week. Without the acknowledgement.
Yesterday I quoted (without actual permission) large swaths of a commentary written by Frank Bruni, in which I promote… I’m sorry… in which he promotes the idea that “Identity Politics” is superseding the idea of “We are all in this together” and “We are more the same than we are different”, and… y’know, I am not sure how big Frank Bruni’s mouth is so I am unclear about how many of my words I can fit into it. I believe I’ll stop there.
FRANK BRUNI: “Thank you. I was experiencing a ‘Gag’ reflex.”
Okay. So I turn the page of the “Week In Review” section, and – Glory Be! – there’s a another personally vindicating commentary, this one written by professor of gerontology Louise Aronson, whom we are told is working on a book on “oldhood.”
I may have been too lazy to mention to you, that, if I were not too lazy to make the effort – that’s two “lazy’s” in the same sentence, which may be a revelatory mirror into my character – I would have partnered with some medical expert – someone like gerontologist Louise Aronson – for research purposes, to produce what I had long ago entitled in my head, “The Book of Old.”
And here’s Louise Aronson working on that exact book without me. (Answering the question, concerning my unwillingness to put in the sufficient effort to attain worthwhile objectives, the question being, “What if everyone acted that way?” to which my comforting answer is, “They don’t.” Leaving me perennially off the hook.)
Dr. Aronson’s article concerns a perspective I have articulated numerous times – and have been generally ignored because, “Who do you think you are, a gerontologist?” – which is that there are thousands of books about childhood development and the changes in adolescence – to name two developmental stages that persuasively make my point – but as you get older, there are fewer and fewer available “Guide Books”, until you get to “actuarially really old”, where there are none of them that I am aware at all. (Not even in “Big Print” editions. Or in special audiobooks where they speak really loud.)
Every stage of our life involves mental and physiological alterations, which, if you don’t know they’re coming, can catch you frighteningly off-guard.
Anxious mothers, intensely scrutinizing their infants:
“Is that ‘normal’?”
“Is it permanent or is there something somebody can do?
There are myriad references and resources for anxious mothers to learn what’s going on and what steps, if any, need to be taken. The older you get, however, such information becomes decreasingly chronicled. Imagine that anxious mother, with no answers – that’s us, when we’re old. Even doctors don’t help much. Every explanation begins with, “As we get older…” And for that, you a bill and pay fourteen dollars for parking.
And you go home wondering, “Is absolutely everything now about ‘old’?”
As an example of ignoring important age-related distinctions, Dr. Aronson mentions the problems concerning immunization protocols due to an inadequate “lumping together.”
“Just as we don’t confuse toddlers with teenagers , or young adults with their middle-aged parents, so, too, are we able to distinguish 70 year-olds from nonagenarians a generation ahead of them.
“Those two groups – the “young old” and the “old old” don’t just differ in how they look and how they spend their days; they also differ biologically. As a result, it’s likely that we are incorrectly vaccinating a number of the 47 million Americans over 65.”
Who knew? They could have punctured me for nothing! Or, who knows, may have age-relatedly made things worse! Hey, I know where I’m heading. But there is no need to hurry things along!
Dr. Aronson provides two suggestions to approve age-appropriate medical treatment:
“First, whenever we apply something to people by age and are tempted to divide the life span into just childhood and adulthood, we should add oldhood to the list as well. Second, the National Institutes of Health should require that older adults be included in clinical studies, just as it already does for women and minorities.”
Summing up, Dr. Aronson reminds us,
“Life is a three-act play. It’s time our medical system reflected that truth.”
Stuff happens when you get older, or, in some cases, happens with diminishing frequency. Besides receiving the right treatment, you kind of want to know just what’s going on. (“Kind of” because you also kind of don’t want to know. With me, it’s, like, “55-45” in the direction of “It’s happening anyway, so you may as well find out.” But it’s a squeaker.)
With babies, there are tons of resources offering useful information. But lacking “The Book of Old”, or some actually completed facsimile, there is virtually nowhere to turn for an explanation of “What’s that?” except to some doctor whose answer to everything is, “It’s because you’re old.”
There was this ninety-ish writer I knew who, when you asked him, “How are you doing, Bob?” would reply,
“Deteriorating on schedule.”
I believe that was more a joke than a precise medical diagnosis. Still, it would be valuable to be more informed about the deteriorational schedule, to help you decide if you should see someone to try and fix what you’re feeling, or acceptingly acquiesce to, “It is what is.”
And then eat a whole pie because what exactly would it hurt?
Actually, it might hurt.
But where’s the book to look it up in to find out?