I have always been interested in transitions. At sixty, I taught a study group called “Leaving the 50’s”. I was a bit dubious about the coming decade at that time, but my sixties turned out to be full of wonderful adventures.
When it comes to the 70’s, however, no matter how you look at it, you have much less of life in front of you than behind you. Studies claim that at this stage of life, people are happier than they were at middle age, and that may be true. What isn’t true, according to Susan Jacoby in her 2011 book Never Say Die: The Myth and Marketing of the New Old Age is that this happiness lasts through old, old age.
In her carefully-researched and well-documented book, Jacoby tells us that although our lives can be extended by breakthroughs in medicine there will come a time that life is not so great, if we live long enough. She warns us that ninety is not the new sixty, even if it is a better ninety. At eighty-five, the best years are not yet to come. At least not for most of us.
Jacoby’s book is a bit of a downer. But the sooner we face the fact that our oldest years may be difficult, the sooner we can plan for our needs and make sure our loved ones are informed of our choices.
June 28, 2012