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The Politics of Aging

Posted: April 9, 2013

Last month I was privileged to attend the annual meeting of the American Society on Aging in Chicago.  There are over 4000 people in attendance at this annual conference with many workshops and lectures to attend.

One of my favorite presentations was on the Politics of Aging. I attend this one each year. My ‘takeaway” this year was a new word for all of us to start using and practicing: GERIACTIVIST and GERIACTIVISM. In other words, don’t just complain about how the current political situation is affecting you as an older adult… do something about it.

One of the presenters made it clear that it is too easy to sit back and talk about how you hate the new technology, or music, or sexual behaviors that you hear or read about.  Instead, he urges that older adults  try to become familiar with what is new and try to understand it.  Denying that things are changing is a fast track to obsolescence.

Now, no one is telling you to go out and buy a CD of rap music, or use an Iphone or text your grandchildren instead of speaking to them. But you do need to understand that there are new ways of doing things and that you accept this ,and will try to adopt some of them. When we get fixed at one point and refuse to move ahead, the world looks at us as stubborn and unwilling to change.

So, go into our computer center and talk to staff about the new technology and how it works.  Or attend an intergenerational program so you can gain further knowledge of how the new generation is thinking .

Try watching some of the new television shows, just so that you can see how the world has changed.  Yes, movies are not what they used to be, neither are television commercials. But learning to accept this keeps the brain active and healthy.

I remember years ago when older adults would never think of wearing sneakers for anything but tennis or other sports and jeans were for children .   Down jackets were for skiing, and sweatshirts were for men doing construction work. Tatoos were for sailors.  Now everyone wears all of these items of clothing for every day comfort and convenience. I see 90 year olds here at Golda wearing jeans on a daily basis.  On the beach you will see tattoos on people of all ages, even a few here at Golda.  This is a sign to me that you can “keep up with the times” if you try.

So stay active, keep up with the times and become a GERIACTIVIST. You can be an agent of change if you believe it and act on it!

Laura Isenberg is Golda Meir House Resident Service Coordinator

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