Ageist Harm

Stella Fosse’s most recent blog posting, “First Do No Ageist Harm,”  examines the underlying assumptions of a study on brain health in which she participated because she wanted to contribute to research that would help develop treatments for brain disorders.  In her lucid account, she reports that many of the questions came from underlying assumptions she considers ageist–assuming decline, for example. There were no questions about the positive aspects of aging, suggesting there was no financial incentive similar to that of drug companies seeking cures. I had recently revisited Ursula K. Le Guin’s collection of short blog-like pieces written in her eighties and nineties, entitled No Time to Spare in which she begins by referencing a questionnaire she received from Harvard, sent in advance of the sixtieth reunion of her 1951 graduating class. Her response to a question about what she does in her spare time, like the questions Fosse mentions, reveals the underlying ageism of the questions.  I suggest you read all four entries in the opening section, “Going Over Eighty.” I love her response that she has no spare time because her time has always “been occupied by living.”

Next, I plan to follow up on Fosse’s recommendation of Becca Levy’s book,  Breaking the Age Code:  How Your Beliefs About Aging Determine How Long and How Well You Live Like LeGuin, I bristle when someone claims I don’t look my age, sharing her sense that we earned our wrinkles and age spots in over eighty years and we don’t want them to deny our experience of living.