You’re not Getting Older, You’re Getting Bitter

It is well known that older people are prone to depression and I now believe I know one of the main causes. They are members of AARP and receive that organization’s magazine.

It has an upbeat, chirpy tone and is filled with impossible to emulate role models still going strong when the rest of us are sprawled on the sofa exhausted. In the current issue, for example, there’s Judi Dench. Oh, excuse me, Dame Judi Dench.

At 79, she was an Oscar best actress nominee this year despite admitting she has macular degeneration and can’t see anyone more than 8 inches away. It’s true that she couldn’t attend the awards ceremony in California, but not because, like the rest of us, the flight from England would have killed her. No, because she was in India filming her next movie.

And then there’s the cover story on Susan Sarandon, a mere 67, who recently ditched her 12-years- younger partner of 23 years to hang with a guy of 36, a partner of hers in a club where she was caught by AARP dancing the night away. It made me tired just reading about it.

There were no similarly age-defying men profiled, presumably because most of them are already dead which is to be expected, actuarially-speaking. There was one self-penned piece by the 80-year-old Dr. Oliver Sacks, but he may still be around because he gets better medical care than the rest of us – from himself. And the main thrust of his piece seemed to be how to face the end cheerfully.

It got even worse when AARP moved on to the self-help heart of the magazine which is designed to provide oldsters with useful advice. First there were fun tests to decide if you have a) dementia by putting names to faces in a magazine chosen at random, b) Parkinson’s by testing your sense of smell, c) Alzheimer’s using a jar of peanut butter. I seem to have passed all three, but I will look at peanut butter with fear and suspicion from now on. Or until I get Alzheimer’s and forget about the test.

I was also told to determine if I am going to die early by sitting cross-legged on the floor and then standing to an upright position without using knees, hands, forearms, elbows. If you can do it, you get 10 points, can join Cirque du Soleil and are immortal. For every time you touch the ground with a forbidden part of your anatomy, deduct a point and 10 or 20 years. Since I have a funny knee and can’t sit cross-legged, I failed immediately and am presumably already dead. At the minimum I am feeling worse about my chances of getting to Saturday.

Finally, I was admonished to “age proof” my finances since research shows that every year after 60 people get stupider about money while at the same time getting more confident about how smart they are about money. So far I haven’t reached the point where I am willing to put a down payment on the Brooklyn Bridge or send a large check to Madoff in prison. But if you’re a con artist, check back every few years. Eventually I ought to be ready to do something really stupid and congratulation myself for doing it.

Thanks AARP, and have a good day.

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