In case anyone needs a reminder, the rate of dementia among the elderly in the western world is on the decline. Experts speculate better diets and increased levels of education are part of the explanation. (Click) We can count this medical achievement as one of many that have come to us at a galloping pace. Bionic joint replacements — hips, knees, shoulders — are common and keep the old moving pain-free. Cataract surgery enhances vision and, as age-related hearing grows with the baby boomers, Medicare is considering covering the devices. (“Listen Up!” by Jo Ann Jenkins, AARP Bulletin, May 2018, pg. 34.)
Thanks to medical intervention I, and many like me, are enjoying what might be called the “super” adult years. I’d be a fool to want to turn back the clock, and I’m not alone in my thinking.. One-hundred-and-two-year old painter, Trudy Smith, knows what I mean. (Click). A healthy old age brings unimagined freedom. For one thing, authority no longer intimidates us.
I admit, that last statement is a little ageist. For me, authority, these days, seems to reside in twenty-something bodies. A 60-year gap exists between me and my new dentist. Even so, I take my hat off to him and his shiny new degree. He knows how to do implants without bone grafts — a process cheaper and faster than the old method. When he provides information like that, I am in awe and have to remind myself being old doesn’t mean I know everything. I just think I do.
Thanks to the young and their whiz-bang inventions, I no longer see Time as my enemy. The new enemy is change. In spite of my gratitude, I blame the young for too much invention, making me feel as if I live on a rollercoaster.
Take smartphones, for example. Once they were the province of science fiction. Now folks can buy and read my books with a simple touch on a screen. But there’s a downside to this convenience. I don’t want to be tracked by my phone and treated as if I were am Amazon commodity.
What passes for convenience is also an invasion. Joseph DeAngelo, the California serial killer who escaped detection for years, knows about that. He registered his DNA on Ancestory.com and the rest is history. A bad outcome for him is a great outcome for the rest of us, of course. (The Week, May 11, 2018. Pg. 12.) Still, when police can exhume my cadaver to unlock my smartphone, I call that a grave problem. (Click)
So, here’s my toast to the young disrupters of the world: With lightning speed, you have unleashed change that is both wondrous and hideous. For that achievement, I wish you long, long lives. I mean that as a blessing and a curse.
(Originally published 5/21/18)