Old Age: A Beginner’s Guide


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But she meant no harm. In the interview, McCarthy says that he wants to be seen as a professional pianist and remembered for his professional achievements; he does not want to be viewed predominantly as a disabled person. They seem taken aback that you are around at all…Even if you feel fine, you walk around in an aura of illness.

Stella Young has a stellar no pun intended TED talk on this, and she firmly declares:. And I know why it happens. After all, they are not trained professionals who deal with patients all day. Although doctors are devoting their lives to helping people get better, they seem to find a strange satisfaction in seeing a disease take its predicted course. In this short collection of essays, Kingsley invites the reader to take on multiple perspectives: as a patient, as a doctor, as a friend, as a family member, as a stranger, as a colleague, as a citizen…He also invites the reader to reflect about personal relationships, daily interactions, political involvement and philosophical questions.

You are commenting using your WordPress. You are commenting using your Google account. You are commenting using your Twitter account. You are commenting using your Facebook account. Notify me of new comments via email. Notify me of new posts via email. Skip to content. What is the competition about life really about? Professionals, such as doctors, may not do a much better job: Although doctors are devoting their lives to helping people get better, they seem to find a strange satisfaction in seeing a disease take its predicted course.

Like this: Like Loading Please leave a comment Cancel reply Enter your comment here Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:. Email required Address never made public. Be -- start out being as greedy and selfish as you want. It still makes no sense to build your life around things because you can't take your fancy car or your fancy house with you.

So then you think, well, what really counts is longevity. And then you think, well, what good's longevity if you don't know you're having it? So the real thing you want to be -- maximize is longevity. And then you think, well, you know, I'm not going to live forever in any event.

It's reputation that counts. You know? I'm going to be dead for longer than I'm alive. And so that's what I really want to maximize. And, well, there's two kinds of reputation. There's your family. You want to be remembered by -- just being remembered, leaving aside remembering for what, is sort of important I think.

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And you want to be remembered as a good person in your family and your community. And then some people reach for more. In the book, I talk about Jane Austen And it worked for a while. Ultimately, Jane Austen triumphed. This was partly because of this group, as you say. Her nephew, I think, wrote a very favorable biography of her. And basically, though, I think, it wasn't these artificial things.

REHM We're going to get to the election in a moment. But I want to ask you about your meeting -- your accidental meeting with Robert McNamara. And I turned and in the next seat was Robert McNamara, who I guess you have to explain to some of your listeners, Diane, was the secretary of defense under Kennedy and Johnson, and largely -- or at least partially -- responsible for the Vietnam War and turned against the war in -- a little convenient, in my opinion. But then spent the rest of his life trying to make amends. And I asked him what he was doing going to Denver. And he said he was going there to meet his girlfriend and they were going to go cross-country skiing from Aspen to Denver or Aspen to Vail or something.

He's -- here he is, he must have been in his 80s and he's cross-country skiing with his girlfriend at fashionable resorts. But, you know, you can't -- even denying that to Robert McNamara, wouldn't give it to someone else. So what's the point in even, you know, caring about him? Sure I was -- I think it's pretty clear.

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He sort of moves it back a generation. REHM Interesting. And you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show. Tell that story. But I used to get up early. And I had an apartment that was walking distance from the Times.

I was the only person in Los Angeles, I think, who could walk to work. And so I used to swim my laps before I went to work, because the one thing that is essential -- if anyone listening has Parkinson's -- is exercise. And so I'm pretty scrupulous about that. Isn't that correct? And then I noticed this old, old man swimming laps very, very slowly.

And he said -- he comes up and he looks at me and he says, I'm 90 years old. I used to be a judge. And -- as if he was supposed to -- I was supposed to give him some sort of prize for that. And I thought, well, what's so great about it? REHM So there has to have been some internal reaction on your part, that you had said to yourself, So what? This guy is a judge, darned old fool or whatever. And then to hear from his son that he had just died.

How'd you feel?

II. Compassion lies in the smallest things: don’t make people feel that they are “past it”

But he -- I didn't feel especially bad. I mean, it's -- he had -- apparently, he was a find judge and his -- he had a fine family. And -- but he also managed to live until REHM It strikes me that Parkinson's not only has its physical effects, but its effects on the flattening of emotions. What do you think? They say -- they talk about two different times of effects -- the physical ones, movement disorders as they call them, and the cognitive one. It does seem to me that there's a third one, which is the psychological one.

REHM A flattening of reaction. I saw it with my husband. And we're going to take a short break here. When we come back, we'll open the phones, your questions, comments for journalist Michael Kinsley. His book, "Old Age. He -- I told -- I said it to you, so it's unfair of me. He needed to be sold on -- and I originally thought it should be the other way around, it should be "A Beginner's Guide to Old Age.

REHM I like this. I like it a lot, all right. We're going to open the phones now. Let's go first to Vance, Alabama. David, you're on the air. You know, what I'm going to say is maybe an odd point of view, but I've been looking forward to old age my whole life. I -- in my youth I spent a lot of time with my grandparents and their friends who were born in s, and I'm 66 now and been retired for about five years, and I -- I am having the greatest time because I'm doing what I want.

People -- I don't have to move furniture anymore. People open doors for me. They call me sir. They even tolerate some of the stupid things I say.


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DAVID And I've gotten most diseases that you could have at this point in life, including diabetes and heart disease, but I like what "Desiderata," the poem, says, that you take kindly the counsel of years, gracefully surrendering things of youth. And that's what I've been doing. And more importantly, I'm not afraid to die. I -- in some ways I look forward to it because I think it's going to be a great adventure.

So I believe that that frees me up. REHM That's exactly what my husband said. He said, I'm looking forward to the next journey. I'm not looking forward to it. REHM I can certainly understand that. How have you reacted, though, to the changes in your body? Have they sort of changed the way you have to maneuver?

Do you have to plan ahead a lot? Getting out of bed in the morning is a little bit difficult. But, you know, if anyone had told me in that I'd still be -- I'd still be doing more or less everything I did before, I would have said, well, that sounds great, I'll take that. REHM Exactly, but you in the book talk about losing your edge and fear of losing your edge. It was a couple of weeks after I got diagnosed. It suddenly occurred to me, I wonder if there are mental effects.

I didn't even get into the difference between cognitive and others, and I went and asked my doctor, and he said, well, you might lose your edge. And I freaked out because my edge is how I make a living. And as I say, it's also how I make friends, maybe how I found my wife, you know. My edge is me. And so I panicked. And how lucky you were to meet her. How did you meet her? And I'd met a lot of sort of geeky computer nerds and then this lovely woman. And it was years later, actually, that we turned what had been friendship into romance.

REHM That's great. And Lionel had said to me, be on the lookout because Michael Kinsley is coming. He was very, very pleased that you had accepted the invitation. In you walked, said two words and turned around and walked right back out. And I found myself thinking at the time, something's wrong. People don't behave that way. And that would have been sometime in the early '90s. REHM It seems to me it was unwillingness to engage, either extreme shyness, or something else was going on, and I couldn't be quite sure.

But I thought it was curious. REHM Well, just to bring that up. Let's go to Frenchie in Miami, Florida. You're on the air. My comments, I just wanted to touch on some themes I was picking up when Mr.


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  • Kinsley used the phrase losing his edge and then earlier when he talked about, after his initial diagnosis, he didn't want to -- he didn't want to be public about it. And let me give you my background to frame my comments. I'm a nurse practitioner, and I've had type 1 diabetes for 25 years, so I have multiple chronic illnesses, and I can really sympathize with -- you know, I am middle aged.

    Old Age: A Beginner’s Guide by Michael Kinsley | Saturday Review | The Times

    I need to be in the workforce, and the concern about not wanting people around you to know your physical limitations or wanting them to react to you because of what people anticipate in terms of physical and cognitive decline associated with chronic illness. FRENCHIE And I just wanted to kind of get your response to that notion and the idea that people are living longer now, and we are needing to stay in the workforce longer, you know, to maintain our society and how we can be activist to try to reduce that sort of prejudice that's out there.

    And unfortunately I see it among my colleagues in the medical community, where often patients who are declining physically, you know, or they look older than their chronological age, there's this expectation that they're losing their edge. There was a woman at a -- if we're talking about Washington dinner parties, which we seem to be, there was a woman who offered to cut up my meat for me.

    And she meant well. REHM But what do you say to our caller even about those within the medical profession who once they realize perhaps that you have a chronic illness that they can't cure, because we haven't found a cure to Parkinson's yet, that they slowly, slowly, slowly let go of you? Please share the impact of the disability both before and after the diagnosis on your work life.

    Since what we do for a living is so much part of who we are, how do you reconcile the prospect of retirement for lack of a better word in one of the few careers that can usually be performed well into old age? Some of them don't. But I've done -- I'm comfortable financially, which is a great blessing. REHM I mean, using your brain, not talking about using your body, as so many hard-working laborers have to do.

    KINSLEY It's going to be interesting in our economy as the caller said that, you know, people -- people are sort of discouraged from working. We need their output.


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    REHM If you live longer and can no longer function at what you're doing KINSLEY Well even if -- even if you can function, we're all going to have to work -- we're all going to have to work longer, but at the same time, people are losing their jobs. So how do you -- how do you take advantage of the -- of the abilities of people who are older without denying opportunity to the people who are younger. What are your thoughts about what's going on? I think -- I just -- I just wrote a piece saying he brings a couple of assets to the thing. One is he's entertaining, and I have a quote from "Ravelstein," the novel by Saul Bellow, which he says, to govern the country, you have to entertain it.

    And he'll do that. And then the other thing is that -- remember Nixon and Kissinger and game theory. It pays to be thought of as crazy because that's the only way you can threaten credibly to start a nuclear war. You know, I'm not sure I'm happy with that idea of game theory, Michael. Do you think this country is headed into some kind of nuclear confrontation?

    KINSLEY No, but you've got Putin there, or Putin, and, you know, if -- if we had some kind of crisis with the Soviet Union, and you had to decide which guy you think will actually carry out some threat, you'd vote for Putin except for if our guy is Donald Trump because he's just nutty enough to do it. REHM So how do you envision, if you can, the kinds of debates you will see if, as you theorize, Hillary becomes the nominee, as does Trump? How do you envision the debates between them?

    I wish he were a little less exciting. REHM I don't know how we're going to find that kind of balance, but who do you think is likely to keep the world safer? But there is this one exception, which is what I was talking about, the game theory that Nixon and Kissinger both employed. You know, Nixon was a little bit nutty, and that helped him in negotiations. And Trump, the one thing he can claim, whether credibly or not, is he's a dealmaker. That -- that's what he's -- that's what he's claiming to be.

    So that fits right in. To what extent do you think it will play out on Hillary if she does win the nomination?

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    I think that's a pity because, you know, he's -- but I think that's the fact. Thank you, Michael. REHM Good to be with you, and thanks, all, for listening. Old Age: A Beginner's Guide. Tuesday, Sep 24 Ann Patchett's eighth novel explores what happens when a mother abandons her two children. Friday, Sep 20 The longtime activist offers a vision of a planet Earth that has survived the worst effects of climate change -- but only if we act now.

    Friday, Sep 13 With all ten of the leading candidates finallY on the same debate stage, the race to sit atop the Democratic ticket in enters a new phase.

    Old Age: A Beginner’s Guide Old Age: A Beginner’s Guide
    Old Age: A Beginner’s Guide Old Age: A Beginner’s Guide
    Old Age: A Beginner’s Guide Old Age: A Beginner’s Guide
    Old Age: A Beginner’s Guide Old Age: A Beginner’s Guide
    Old Age: A Beginner’s Guide Old Age: A Beginner’s Guide
    Old Age: A Beginner’s Guide Old Age: A Beginner’s Guide
    Old Age: A Beginner’s Guide Old Age: A Beginner’s Guide
    Old Age: A Beginner’s Guide Old Age: A Beginner’s Guide
    Old Age: A Beginner’s Guide

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