Stereotypes of aging are everywhere:  newspapers, magazines, movies,  TV shows, and those insulting, mock-humorous birthday cards for sale in most drug stores.

For those of us over 50 or 60, hardly a day goes by that we don’t encounter assumptions about our presumed decline and decay. We’re over the hill, we can’t learn new things, and before long we won’t even remember the things we used to know.

I get that a lot of this stereotyping comes from denial of aging, a fear of confronting one’s own mortality. I also get that younger people often condescend to people over 50 or 60 with the utterly mistaken idea that they’re somehow being nice.

They refer admiringly to a grandfather who “still” climbs mountains or rides a Harley or jumps from airplanes even when the engine’s not on fire.

As discussed in his TED talk, Dr. Bill Thomas, suggests that it does not occur to the younger person that he values his grandfather to the extent that the old man engages in activities associated with youth.

Recently, I came upon a twist on this attitude in an appalling concert review which appeared in the Seattle Times. This is how the author, Charles R. Cross, began:

Patti Smith is 66 years old, but at the Neptune Theatre Wednesday night she put on a vibrant and energetic performance that one would expect from someone 50 years her junior.

Mr. Cross’ review went on in that vein with four more sentences describing what a wonderful concert it was, followed by the word “but” and apparent astonishment that any one as old as Patti Smith could put on such a great show.

At one point, he also referred to her “…surprising awareness of the pop-culture mainstream.”

It occurs to me that the reviewer may actually have though he was complimenting the performer. If one strips away the the ageist language, he is saying that Patti Smith was vibrant and energetic and that her voice has never sounded better. Why not just leave it at that?

I love the way she shakes out her hair as she begins to sing. What do you think?

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Four essential vaccinations for grown-ups and why you need them

by Madeleine Kolb January 9, 2013

Editor’s Note:  This is an update of a post which was originally published in February, 2012. I’ve clarified discussion of the vaccine for tetanus, diptheria, and pertussis, based on my own experience. We often think of vaccinations as being for children, but grown-ups need them too. Do you know which ones you need? The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) […]

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Glen Campbell’s Goodbye Tour

by Madeleine Kolb December 6, 2012

On November 27, 2012, Glen Campbell’s Goodbye Tour came to Seattle’s Paramount Theatre. In a Seattle Times review, Tom Keogh wrote of the mixed emotions created by the performance, saying “One of the last concerts remaining on Campbell’s long-running Goodby Tour, which the 76-year-old musician launched last year after announcing he suffers from Alzheimer’s disease, the […]

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How you can earn a Gold medal, even though the Olympic Games are over

by Madeleine Kolb August 27, 2012

The Olympic Games in London were inspiring, thrilling, dazzling. How exciting it was to watch the best runners, gymnasts, cyclists, swimmers, and other athletes in the world compete for a medal.  And that thrilling moment when the top three in an event stepped on the podium to accept their medals.  A Bronze medal for the third-place winner, a Silver for […]

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7 Compelling reasons to never move again

by Madeleine Kolb August 8, 2012

Over the course of my life, I’ve moved across the US from coast to coast no fewer than seven times. Move 6 in January, 2010 was prompted by my partner The Engineer accepting a term appointment at the Pax River Naval Air Station in southern Maryland. Move 7 in July, 2012, was coming back to Seattle. […]

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5 Fabulous rockers over 60 (or 70)

by Madeleine Kolb May 29, 2012

Listening to John Fogerty sing still gives me goosebumps. Here John (now 67) performs “The Midnight Special” at the Austin City Limits Music Festival in 2008 to a huge and wildly enthusiastic audience.   And here he sings “Cotton Fields” before a large crowd in Koln, Germany on Juy 9, 2010. I love the part at […]

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Make-up madness: Hillary Clinton’s appearance criticized

by Madeleine Kolb May 11, 2012

Hillary Clinton is one hard-working, globe-trotting Secretary of State. Since taking office, she’s  traveled an astonishing 809,180 miles—the equivalent of circling planet Earth 32 times. Her most recent trip (May 3 through May 8) was to China, Bangladesh, and India. April 13 through April 19, she was in Columbia, Brazil, Belgium, and France. Before that it was Saudi […]

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Didn’t get your flu shot? Why you need it now

by Madeleine Kolb March 16, 2012

It’s spring, and temperatures are rising. Cherry trees and apple trees and magnolias are covered with blossoms. Migratory birds are busy courting and building nests. So why on earth is the U.S. Centers for Disease Control urging you to get an annual flu shot now—just because you didn’t get around to it last fall? Hasn’t the flu […]

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Don Bateman’s got no plans to retire from saving lives

by Madeleine Kolb March 4, 2012

On September 27, 2011, Don Bateman was one of five Americans who received a U.S. Medal of Technology and Innovation from President Obama. Bateman, chief engineer of Flight Safety Avionics at Honeywell, was honored for his work in “developing and championing critical flight-safety sensors now used on aircraft worldwide, including ground proximity warning system and wind-shear detection systems.” More than […]

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Exercising for life: what’s your plan

by Madeleine Kolb November 21, 2011

I’m an evangelist for exercise, and I practice what I preach. I’ve been a convert ever since I read the book “Aerobics” by Dr. Kenneth Cooper decades ago. I began exercising for life—walking or running along the Charles River in Boston, Lake Washington in Seattle, and Chesapeake Bay in southern Maryland. I walked or ran in good weather […]

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