Facts and Figures About the U.S. Elder Population

Back in 1963, President John F. Kennedy designated May as Senior Citizens Month. Two years later, Congress passed the Older American's Act to deal with a lack of community services for elders.

The Act established the U.S. Administration on Aging (AoA) that administers grant programs created by the Older Americans Act and is the primary federal agency concerned with elders in the U.S.

May is still celebrated as (renamed) Older Americans Month and before May gets away from us, we at TGB should make note of it. To give us a general idea of who elders in America are, here are some statistics - gleaned mostly (but not entirely) from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Although the numbers will be off if you are not in the U.S., the general sense will likely hold for you if you are in another developed country.

46.2 million people were 65 and older on 1 July 2014. That's 14.5% the population.

It is projected that there will be 98.2 million people 65 and older in 2060 – nearly 25% of the population. Of this number, 19.7 of them will be 85 or older.

It is also projected that in 2060, the number of baby boomers still alive will be 2.4 million, the youngest of whom will be 96 years old.

81.9% of people 65 and older have completed high school or some higher education.

Nearly a quarter of the group, 24.8%, hold a bachelor's or higher degree.

The median income in 2014 of households people 65 and older was $36,895.

97 percent of retirees receive Social Security benefits.

For 36 percent of people 65 and older, Social Security provides 90 percent or more of their income.

For 24 percent of those people, Social Security is the sole source of retirement income.

About 9.5 percent of people 65 and older live in poverty (incomes below the poverty line).

Without Social Security benefits, more than 40 percent of Americans aged 65 and older would have incomes below the poverty line. The program lifts 14.7 million elderly Americans out of poverty.

57.6% of people 65 and older were married in 2015.

24.4% of people 65 and older in 2015 were widowed.

As of the fourth quarter of 2015, 79.3% of householders 65 and older owned their homes.

The state of Florida has the largest population percentage of people 65 and older: 19.1%. The state of Maine comes in second with 18.3%.

Chattahoochee County, Georgia has the lowest percentage of elders at 4.1%.

Sumpter County in Florida has the largest percentage of elders of any county in the U.S., a whopping 52.9%.

The state of Alaska is home to the lowest percentage of people 65 and older, 9.4%, followed by Utah with 10%.

15 million older persons 65 and older volunteer in some form.

In 2013, about 536,000 grandparents aged 65 or older had the primary responsibility for their grandchildren who lived with them.

21.5% of men 65 and older participated in the labor force in 2014. The rate for women 65 and older was 13.7%.


It is estimated that in 2014, 9.4 million 65 and older Americans were veterans of the U.S. armed forces.

71.9% of the 65-plus population voted in the 2012 presidential election. That was up from 70.3% in 2008.

Elders are just over 14 percent of the population but consume 40 percent of prescription drugs and 35 percent of over-the-counter drugs.

On average, individuals 65 to 69 years old take nearly 14 prescriptions per year. Individuals aged 80 to 84 take an average of 18 prescriptions per year.

Anyone who reads this blog regularly knows that I strongly dislike media stories that extol old people for physical achievements that are unexpected in their age range. You know, the ones who climb Mt. Everest at age 80 or water ski barefoot at 75 or bungee jump off bridges.

Those are nothing more than one-off stunts but are widely reported with a whiff of blame aimed at the rest of us who are not behaving like people 50 years younger than ourselves.

Lately, you could get whiplash from the cognitive dissonance caused by reports of 60- and even 50-somethings who can't get hired due to age discrimination versus politicians who want to raise the retirement age to 70 for the full Social Security benefit.

So while we are putting together a description of old people today via statistics, let's also look at a list of accomplishments, important achievements that instead of aping youth, depend on education, experience and understanding that are gained only with age.

Alexander Graham Bell was 75 when he received a patent for his work on a hydrofoil boat.

Susan B. Anthony was past 80 when she formed the International Woman Suffrage Alliance.

At 88, Michelangelo created the architectural plans for the Church of Santa Maria degli Angeli.

At 89, Arthur Rubinstein performed one of his greatest recitals in Carnegie Hall.

At 90, Marc Chagall became the first living artist to be exhibited at the Louvre museum.

At 94, comedian George Burns performed in Schenectady, New York, 63 years after his first performance there.

Grandma Moses received her last commission as an artist when she was 99.

Donald Trump and Social Security

Back when there were still a whole lot of people running for the Republican nomination for president, Donald Trump was the only one who did not want to cut Social Security benefits.

His opponents had the usual variety of methods to reduce the benefit they always erroneously call an “entitlement” (along with Medicare) as though it is not an earned benefit we all pay for throughout our working years.

Raise the retirement age, say some. Others want a “means test” that would remake Social Security into a welfare program instead of the insurance benefit it is. Still others want to reduce the cost-of-living adjustment or go the George W. Bush route and let people invest those monies in stock market.

Donald Trump was different. In December 2015, he said,

“'We’re not gonna cut your Social Security and we’re not cutting your Medicare,' he said," according to a story in Huffington Post.

“Trump has insisted that economic growth and cutting waste, fraud and abuse in the system would solve entitlement spending issues.”

You may recall that eliminating “waste, fraud and abuse” is pretty much Trump's solution to everything except building that wall he says Mexico will pay for. As the HuffPo writer, Matt Fuller, reminded readers,

”He neglects to mention that the incidence of incorrect overpayments is typically under 1 percent, according to the Social Security Administration’s estimates. (Combined administrative costs for both the retirement and disability programs are also under 1 percent.)”

You don't find those kinds of administrative numbers in the private sector.

That was in December. In an April 2016 debate, Trump reaffirmed his support of Social Security:

"'Every Republican wants to do a big number on Social Security, they want to do it on Medicare, they want to do it on Medicaid. And it's not fair to the people that have been paying in for years and now all of the sudden they want to be cut.' reported Alternet. “He made clear, I'm not gonna do that!'"

Since political coverage by the news media has become all Trump, all the time, you may have noticed that the now presumptive Republican candidate frequently changes his positions, denies he ever said things he did say and contradicts himself, often several times within a day and even an hour.

That flexibility showed up a couple of weeks ago when Modern Healthcare reported:

”On Wednesday, Sam Clovis, Trump's chief policy adviser, signaled to a Washington group that strongly favors a major overhaul of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security that Trump is open to their agenda.

“'After the (Trump) administration has been in place, then we will start to take a look at all of the programs, including entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare,' Clovis said, according to the Wall Street Journal (firewall).

“That statement came just before Trump met with House Speaker Paul Ryan on Thursday to try to make peace with the top Republican policymaker...”

(Speaker Ryan is long on the record with proposals to cut Social Security.)

Last week, Social Security expert Nancy Altman who is co-author of the 2015 book, Social Security Works!, followed up on those comments from Sam Clovis in a Huffington Post story:

”To those who have carefully studied Trump’s record on Social Security, this seemingly abrupt turnaround does not come as a huge surprise.

“Back in 2000, Trump wrote a book in which he referred to Social Security as a 'Ponzi scheme', proposed increasing the retirement age to 70, and claimed, 'Privatization would be good for all of us.'

“As recently as 2011, he said he was on board with plans to cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid — but that Republicans should be very careful 'not to fall into the Democratic trap' by doing it without bipartisan support, or they would pay the price politically.

“Trump’s position on Social Security appears to be whatever he feels is most beneficial to Donald Trump at any given time.”

It seems pretty certain to me that it will not be long before Donald Trump announces his explicit support for the Republican position of cutting Social Security along with Medicare and Medicaid.

They never stop. These people will never, ever stop trying to impoverish elders. Remember, even when they say their cuts will not harm current retirees, they are nonetheless perfectly willing to do that to your children and grandchildren.

ELDER MUSIC: Songs of the Gershwins

Tibbles1SM100x130This Sunday Elder Music column was launched in December of 2008. By May of the following year, one commenter, Peter Tibbles, had added so much knowledge and value to my poor attempts at musical presentations that I asked him to take over the column. He's been here each week ever since delighting us with his astonishing grasp of just about everything musical, his humor and sense of fun. You can read Peter's bio here and find links to all his columns here.

* * *

George & Ira Gerswhin

I feel as if I'm announcing a category on a quiz program, "Pointless" specifically, for those who know that one. So, these are songs that were written by both George and Ira Gershwin.

George also wrote longer works and Ira wrote many songs with others after George died, but this column isn't about those.

There were many versions of pretty much all the songs today. That's not really surprising as they wrote good ones. So, these are my choices. (I didn't tell Norma, the Assistant Musicologist I was doing this column so she didn't get a say in choosing what to include.)

BILLIE HOLIDAY is no stranger to my columns and here she is again.

Billie Holiday

Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off first saw the light of day in the film "Shall We Dance" which, it probably comes as no big surprise, featured Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.

They sang it in the film while scurrying around on roller skates. This is Billie with her take on the song. I don't think she was wearing skates when she recorded it.

♫ Billie Holiday - Let's Call the Whole Thing Off

JULIE LONDON is another regular.

Julie London

‘S Wonderful came from the Broadway musical "Funny Face" and was performed in that by Adele Astaire and Allen Kearns. Adele was Fred's older sister and they performed together for many years in vaudeville and theatre.

I'm not using either of them, it's Julie's turn to sing the song.

♫ Julie London - 'S Wonderful

CHET BAKER sang like an angel, was a great trumpet player and was one of the handsomest men in show biz.

Chet Baker

However, he seemed determined to destroy all those gifts with long-term hard drug use. He didn't quite succeed, apart from losing his looks, but imagine what he could have achieved had he not indulged.

Enough editorializing, let's hear him perform and sing But Not For Me.

♫ Chet Baker - But Not For Me

"Judy at Carnegie Hall" was a commercial and critical success and won awards all over the place. The double album sold squillions. The concert at which it was recorded marked the comeback of JUDY GARLAND to performing after a hiatus recovering from alcohol and drug abuse.

Judy Garland

The album is interesting and Judy sings well but it's a bit bombastic for my taste. Fortunately, the Gershwins' track is not like that. Their song is How Long Has This Been Going On? I faded the applause at the end as it went on for far too long.

♫ Judy Garland - How Long Has This Been Going On

Fans of Fred Astaire will be disturbed to hear that I originally had him penciled in at this spot and removed him in favor of FATS WALLER.

Fats Waller

Fats doesn't take the song too seriously, which was a bit of a change from all the other songs today. I think that was why I chose it. So, here he is with I Got Rhythm.

♫ Fats Waller - I Got Rhythm

I had quite a few options for the next song, including a few blokes which surprised me. In the end I thought that ETTA JAMES had the most interesting version.

Etta James

Etta is more noted singing rhythm and blues and rock & roll, but she shows here she can perform jazz with the best of them. Here's her take on The Man I Love.

♫ Etta James - The Man I Love

Ah, Nat, in the guise of the NAT KING COLE TRIO which is the way I like him best.

Nat King Cole Trio

Embraceable You was written for an operetta called "East is West" that never saw the light of day.

It first popped its head up in a Broadway musical called "Girl Crazy" sung by Ginger Rogers. It probably won't come as too much of a shock to learn that Fred was in that one too. However, I'm going with Nat.

♫ Nat King Cole Trio - Embraceable You

ELLA FITZGERALD and LOUIS ARMSTRONG made three albums together and from the second of these we have They All Laughed.

Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong

There were several tracks on this one (a double album) and from the first I could have used. Then there's the third album, "Porgy and Bess," but I've done a whole column on that topic, so I left it out.

♫ Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong - They All Laughed

DUKE ROBILLARD is at home playing both blues and jazz. He also makes a good fist at rock & roll when he sets his mind (and fingers) to it.

Duke Robillard

Today he is in jazz mode with The Duke Robillard Jazz Trio playing They Can't Take That Away From Me.

♫ Duke Robillard Jazz Trio - They Can't Take That Away From Me

Although the A.M. didn't have a say in the selections today, I'm sure this next is one she would have picked. It's LINDA RONSTADT.

Linda Ronstadt

Linda recorded several disks with Nelson Riddle featuring the great American songbook. It really caught on with rock & rollers and others have done the same over the years.

Today Linda sings Someone to Watch Over Me.

♫ Linda Ronstadt - Someone to Watch Over Me



For U.K. TGB readers, there is an extensive list online of upcoming summer festivals – an amazing variety of them. I'm sorry I missed the mussel festival earlier this month but on 25 and 26 June, there is the first Gin Festival.


It takes place in Cornwall celebrating, they say, the gin of the United Kingdom – a two-day event of live music and gin appreciation. Yeah. Right. But I have always preferred gin to vodka.

On 2 and 3 July, there is the South Devon 1940's Festival at the South Devon Railway, Buckfastleigh.


You can, the website says,

”Experience the true 1940's life with entertainment, food and games all inspired by the 1940's period. Expect a really fun day and evening and you won't be out of place if you dress up in the period.”

One more example: From the 3rd to the 22nd of August, the Gilbert and Sullivan Festival presents performances by the National Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Company with such classics as Pirates of Penzance and Mikado.

It takes place at Harrogate Royal Hall, Ripon Rd, Harrogate. Click here for the interactive webpage, sponsored by Sunlife Financial organization, with details on at least a dozen more interesting festivals.


The Mt. Washington Observatory in New Hampshire is nickname World's Worst Weather and you're going to see why in this video.

Weather Observers Mike Dorfman and Tom Padham took a brief break earlier this week to “enjoy” the windy and wintry conditions on the observation deck where gusts, they said, “topped out at 109 mph.” Wow.

More video at the Observatory Facebook page.


In our digital age, if you have traveled to countries where you don't speak the language, you may have become familiar with smartphone translator apps. They can help a lot.

Now there is about to be something amazing. Take a look at this video:

You can see still shots and read more details at Bored Panda. There are answers to questions you may have at the company that is developing this upcoming product, Wavery Labs.


In Hollywood, there is an actor named Gwyneth Paltrow. Ms. Paltrow keeps a website she calls Goop where, among other things, she sells stuff. This is one of those items:


If you had trouble figuring out what it is – I did, at first – it is a 24-carat gold dildo. It costs US$15,000. I am speechless.


Back in the day, I took several LSD - “acid” - trips. I've always been careful about my drugs and I partook only when it was still manufactured by Sandoz Laboratories. After the U.S. government outlawed and there was only homemade acid, I stopped.

But I want to be clear that I thought then – and still do – that it was both fun and fascinating and would have some useful medical applications.

Now, as The New York Times reports in a Retro Report, researchers are working on that idea with some potentially important results.


On his HBO show, Last Week Tonight last Sunday, John Oliver reported on 911 emergency systems in the U.S. that are hopelessly out of date.

Of course, he is devastatingly funny about this deadly serious problem.


Serendipity is a fun and amazing thing. As the so-called “mindfulness” fad seems to have reached peak popularity recently, I've been thinking of it as meditation for lazy people and ruminating on how I might write about that for this blog.

Well, if you wait long enough, a like-minded friend might do it for you. That's what happen when Chuck Nyren published a piece titled The Path to Bodily Enlightenment at his Huffington Post column.

Because he's funnier than I am, he took it in a direction I hadn't thought about and explained how growing older provides all the bodily mindfulness he needs:

”My innards are likewise enlightened. Example: that alimentary canal. Years ago I would just eat something. Then I’d eat something else. That was that. No satori attaining.

“Now, every morsel is mindful, especially if doused in sriracha sauce. Not a moment goes by without me knowing exactly where it is on its epic journey. Even during and immediately following extrusion it leaves an afterglow of awareness! Sometimes I think I’m the most enlightened person in the world.”

Go read the whole column. Chuck is a funny man, often about serious things.


The possibility of resolving conflicts that separate Muslims and Jews seems hopeless and it's for that reason that I admire and respect the people – writers, thinkers, diplomats and, in this case, an internet star – who keep trying.

Karim Metwaly is the American-born son of Egyptian immigrant parents who is a singer, actor and vlogger well known on YouTube for his parodies and other videos about Muslims.

In this one, his camera follows two Muslim/Jewish couples as they walk together through Manhattan ethnic neighborhoods. Take a look:

You can read more at the Jerusalem Post.


Sooner or later, almost all of us say something like, “If that's not true, I'll eat my hat.” We usually don't.

In this case, it is Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank who, last year, promised that if Donald Trump became the Republican Party nominee for president, he would eat his entire print column – and his colleagues in the press held him to it.

I've seen this in the past – someone chews up and swallows an actual piece of paper. But Milbank found a chef who cooked the column into a fancy meal of several courses that also included wine.

I think that's cheating. Take a look and see what you think.

You can read more at the Washington Post.

* * *

Interesting Stuff is a weekly listing of short takes and links to web items that have caught my attention; some related to aging and some not, some useful and others just for fun.

You are all encouraged to submit items for inclusion. Just click “Contact” at the top of any Time Goes By page to send them. I'm sorry that I won't have time to acknowledge receipt and there is no guarantee of publication. But when I do include them, you will be credited and I will link to your blog IF you include the name of the blog and its URL.

Me, Myself and I in Old Age

A friend who lives on the east coast mentioned to me last week that his wife, at an age when they are both coasting toward retirement, says she feels more and more like being a homebody these days.

Me too. Even in childhood, I had no trouble being with myself but in the years since I retired in 2004, I have gradually become more appreciative of my own company, to even crave it when life sometimes feels too busy.

This does not mean I don't want to be with other people. I just seem to want a bit less of it these days, of shorter duration and to give myself more time between each encounter.

Scheduling can get tricky because my weekly visit to the farmers market during the season seems to count as visiting time for me as do long telephone conversations – an hour or two each – that I regularly have with friends who live far away.

Not often but now and then, up to three days can go by when, not counting a short greeting with a neighbor at the mail box, I don't see or speak to anyone. And that doesn't bother me.

But it sure does bother people whose jobs are in the field of ageing. Old people are lonely they tell us. Their social circles dwindle as they age leading to more time alone and the isolation that results can be deadly:

”Isolation has been associated with people developing more chronic illnesses and facing a higher risk of death. Hypertension, less physical activity, worse mobility and increased depression have been tied to loneliness and isolation,” reported U.S. News & World Report last year.

“Not too surprisingly, mental abilities can suffer as a person's world shrinks. Cognitive decline and dementia may become more likely with isolation.”

A 2012 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association concluded that “among participants who were older than 60 years, loneliness was a predictor of functional decline and death.”

Some have called elder loneliness in the U.S. and in the U.K. an “epidemic” but how many old people are lonely is highly questionable. An AARP Foundation study [pdf] published in 2012, was unable to quantify it:

”...current estimates indicate that isolation could impact up to 17% of Americans aged 50+.”

Estimates? Could?

What is not hard to know is that wherever the health of old people is being discussed, loneliness and isolation are hot topics and the remedies suggested are always the same:

Take a class
Join a club
Move to a retirement community
Get a pet

(ASIDE: You can always tell when someone who is not old yet is writing about being old. It doesn't occur to them, for example, that for many elders, a pet might be too expensive, too difficult to care for or that concern it would outlive you and maybe not have a new home is too hard to contemplate.)

It is not unreasonable to assume that some people who are lonely don't want to admit it to people they know and we should all try to be sensitive to that with those we know, to do what we can to help.

But what I don't like is the sense conveyed by the ageing media that all elders are at “risk” for isolation and loneliness. Some of us, probably more than those experts realize, find increasing comfort in being with ourselves as we grow older, and being alone is not synonymous with loneliness.

This idea has come up in the past at this blog and a lot of us are on the same page with it as shown on Monday's post about Jung's seven tasks of ageing.

“I have learnt to enjoy my own company much more than I ever did before,” wrote Chillin.

“Solitude is not a sin--far from it. And it's good to use it for writing, including writing remembrances or memoir. Toward the end of life I think it's natural to experience occasional loneliness. We can survive it!” said Barbara Young.

“I'm 69 this year and I'm already tired of AARP reminding me to stay connected, wear high heels, get another job and stay busy! I was very very busy, employed, and connected for 55 years and now I'm going to embrace my essential introvert and explore these tasks in depth,” wrote Susan.

“I love to park my car at the pier, turn on some satellite music, eat my lunch, contemplate life and write. It's peaceful,” said doctafil.

It is a good thing in old age, I believe, to spend some time with me, myself and I. In that regard, here is a lovely little poem I found on the internet some time ago titled The Secret Place by Dennis Lee.

I suspect it was written for children but you and I are old enough to know that doesn't matter.

There's a place I go, inside myself,
Where nobody else can be,
And none of my friends can tell it's there -
Nobody knows but me.
It's hard to explain the way it feels,
Or even where I go.
It isn't a place in time or space,
But once I'm there, I know.
It's tiny, it's shiny, it can't be seen,
But it's big as the sky at night.
I try to explain and it hurts my brain,
But once I'm there, it's right.
There's a place I know inside myself,
And it's neither big nor small,
And whenever I go, it feels as though
I never left at all.

A TGB Extra: Tech Support Fun

Darlene Costner emailed the following joke that had me laughing all day. Anyone who has ever had computer problems and relationship issues will get it. I suspect this one has been around the web for many years and you may have seen it in the past. Doesn't matter. It's still funny and it's still true on so many levels.


* * *

A young woman wrote to tech support and their reply is a stroke of genius. She wrote a letter as a joke and only remembered about it when she unexpectedly received their responding email.

Dear Tech Support:

Last year I upgraded from Boyfriend 5.0 to Husband 1.0 and noticed a distinct slowdown in overall system performance, particularly in the flower and jewelry applications which operated flawlessly under Boyfriend 5.0.

In addition, Husband 1.0 uninstalled many other valuable programs, such as: Romance 9.5 and Personal Attention 6.5, and then installed undesirable programs such as NBA 5.0, NFL 3.0 and Golf Clubs 4.1.

Conversation 8.0 no longer runs and House cleaning 2.6 simply crashes the system. Please note that I have tried running Nagging 5.3 to fix these problems but to no avail. What can I do?


Dear Desperate:

First keep in mind, Boyfriend 5.0 is an Entertainment Package while Husband 1.0 is an operating system. Please enter command: I thought you loved me.html and try to download Tears 6.2 and do not forget to install the Guilt 3.0 update.

If that application works as designed, Husband 1.0 should then automatically run the applications Jewelry 2.0 and Flowers 3.5.

However, remember, overuse of the above application can cause Husband 1.0 to default to Grumpy Silence 2.5, Happy Hour 7.0 or Beer 6.1.

Whatever you do, DO NOT, under any circumstances, install Mother-In-Law 1.0 (it runs a virus in the background that will eventually seize control of all your system resources.) In addition, please, do not attempt to re-install the Boyfriend 5.0 program. These are unsupported applications and will crash Husband 1.0.

In summary, Husband 1.0 is a great program but it does have limited memory and cannot learn new applications quickly. You might consider buying additional software to improve memory and performance. We recommend: Cooking 3.0 and Hot Lingerie 7.7.

Good Luck!

Glad My Dating Days are Done

Several neighbors came by for lunch when I was visiting my mother for a few days in the late 1960s. Because I then worked producing a radio talk show that often featured interviews with the biggest music stars of the day, conversation briefly turned to such groups as The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Band, The Doors, Creedence Clearwater Revival, etc.

All the women, including my mother, dismissed rock & roll out of hand. It wasn't real music to them.

Remember, these were women born in the 19-teens and 1920s who came of age in the big band era – Tommy Dorsey, Benny Goodman, Glen Miller, for example, and singers such as The Andrews Sisters, Bing Crosby, Billie Holliday, etc.

I mention this because I don't think that the oldest generation can ever really understand – or accept, sometimes – the culture of the concurrent youngest adult generation.

This came to mind last weekend while reading an Op-Ed piece in The New York Times titled Sexual Freelancing in the Gig Economy that discusses how dating among the young is done these days.

It is, and always has been, asserts writer, Moira Weigel, related to the economy even if the details differ slightly from generation to generation. Nowadays, corporate language rules in dating, she says:

”First, [men on Tinder] 'reach out.' Then, after spending the night together, they 'follow up.'

“...We constantly use economic metaphors or describe romantic and sexual relations...we have 'friends with benefits' and 'invest in relationships.' An ex may be 'on' or 'off the market.' Online dating makes 'shopping around' explicit. Blog after blog strategizes about how to maximize your 'return on investment' on OKCupid.”

Further, says Weigel, changes to how the workplace operates nowadays, affects dating culture too:

”Back when most people punched clocks at fixed hours, a date might have asked 'Shall I pick you up at 6?' But part-timers, contractors and other contingent workers – who constitute some 40 percent of the American workforce – are more inclined to text one another, 'u still up?' than to make plans in advance.”

An attractive, 30-year-old, single friend tells me that she hardly dates at all. Get-togethers, she explains, are set up with one- and two-line text messages and the guys, as as often as not when the day arrives, text to “postpone” the meeting and she never hears from them again.

Moira Weigel again:

”The generation of Americans that came of age around the time of the 2008 financial crisis has been told constantly that we must be 'flexible' and 'adaptable.' Is it so surprising that we have turned into sexual freelancers?

“Many of us treat relationships like unpaid internships: We cannot expect them to lead to anything long-term, so we use them to get experience.”

No wonder surveys tell us women are postponing marriage. It makes me sad to read this stuff and I'm glad I'm too old to participate. A majority of the comments seem to feel sad too. Here's a sample from a Times reader named Sophie Vandoorne in Paris:

”Wow, this article made me understand a bit more what my daughter had tried to explain to me all these years about the lack of romance in today's American society.

“I just could not believe her when she claimed that men in NY were not about love and romance. They were about work and sex. Being French I would say, yes sex is great darling, it makes one feel alive but aren't sex and love together so much better?

“I could hear her think, 'mom, you are such a dinosaure you don't get it, do you?'

“Well, no I really don't. I still think like Freud taught me that life is about being able to work and to love. If as Steve Jobs urged us to do, you can find work you love, that's even better but can you really live your life without loving someone and being loved in return? Isn't it what people secretly still wish for themselves?

“I guess my daughter is right, I am yesterday indeed.”

Me too, right here in front of you on this page, a dinosaur. Whether it's music or dating or a lot of other things that have changed.

But that's the way it's supposed to be, isn't it? Young folks reject the old ways, old folks resist and the world moves forward. For better or for worse. Usually a bit of both.

What are the Late Years For?

Last week, on a post titled What is Successful Ageing?, I wrote this about reflecting upon our lives:

”This takes quiet time, alone time. Make notes, write a memoir even if it's only for yourself. These years are the time to remember, recall and work out what it all has meant..”

A few days later, a TGB reader who I don't remember hearing from before emailed to say:

”What an idea for an eventful life!! Writing a memoir to myself. I think by 70, everybody has had an interesting life, as the obits always show. A personal memoir, though, is something I have never thought of.

“No legalities or deadlines, just a history of an interesting life. It does not have to be published, so it could be 'bare all'. Thank you for a great idea.”

After such a kind email, it would be nice if I could take credit for the idea but I first read about it decades ago. It is contained in psychologist Carl Jung's Seven Tasks of Aging which, in short form, are:

  1. Facing the reality of aging and dying
  2. Life review
  3. Defining life realistically
  4. Letting go of the ego
  5. Finding new rooting in the Self
  6. Determining the meaning of one’s life
  7. Rebirth – dying with life

In the earliest days of this blog, I was lucky to come across David Wolfe, a brilliant man, a visionary really, who wrote an important blog called Ageless Marketing. (He wrote a book with that title too)

You would not think that a blog from a consultant about how to market consumer products – even to people 50-plus - would be on my radar and generally you would be right. But David was different.

David didn't just study consumer behavior, he studied people's behavior and then applied what he learned to marketing. For me, it was his writing about how old people come to be and are different from younger people that kept me going back to his blog.

David WolfeDavid died in 2011 but the email note from that TGB reader reminded me of a series of posts David wrote in 2007, about Jung's seven tasks of ageing. I excerpted short points from each before linking to his full exposition of each task. Now, nine years later it is every bit as relevant so I am repeating them for you today.

Here is my introduction to the excerpts as I wrote it in 2007:

”David’s purpose in his series on Jung is to convince marketers that elders are not ordinary consumers. Our mindsets are different from midlife and unless marketing and advertising people understand these differences, their products will not sell.

“If you are reading Time Goes By, you are probably not a marketing professional, but that should not deter you from David’s series where you will find the clearest explanation of Jung’s tasks I’ve read anywhere among the general commentary.

"To nudge you toward doing so, below are links and short excerpts from David for each of the tasks.”

The title of each task links to the full version at David's blog.

Task No. 1: Facing the Reality of Aging and Dying
“Those who have successfully carried out Jung’s first task of aging have grown ageless in their outlook. Moreover, they have discovered that the last quarter of life is not as lousy an experience as they might have anticipated at age 40.

“One benefit of reaching this state is an almost adolescent feeling of being beyond harm’s way. Abraham Maslow saw this arising from a lifestyle in which “A day is a minute, a minute is a day.” It’s about living in the moment in a constructive way.”

Task No. 2: Life Review
“…the second of Carl Jung’s Seven Tasks of Aging – life review – can have a deeper effect on many people than nostalgia does, especially the older they are.

“Life review involves a critical examination of one’s life leading toward reconciliation between the sweet and the sour in life. It is a process for removing regret and anger from one’s worldview.”

Task No. 3: Defining Life Realistically
“In Winter, the primary developmental objective is to develop a sense of oneness with all and reconcile the sweet and the bitter in life. The main life focus is reconciliation – finding harmony and peace with ourselves, others and life in general.

“Winter’s mythic theme is irony, reflecting a persistent anticipation that the unexpected is always around the corner – though not necessarily in a negative sense. In fact, the unexpected often delights the older person as much as it does a child. Irony is particularly therapeutic in how it helps us cope with what we can’t change. And, it often provides us with a certain comedic twist to ease the burdens of old age.”

Task No. 4: Letting Go of the Ego
“Letting go of the ego enhances personal well being by taking one to new and higher levels of life satisfaction. Beyond that, research indicates that getting beyond the self to turn more attention to helping others improves the efficiency of the immune system. People who help others tend to live longer and healthier than those who stay wrapped up inside themselves.”

Task No. 5: Finding a New Rooting in the Self
“The worldviews of people in the first half of life are generally rooted in the external world. In contrast, the worldviews of people in the second half of life tend to be rooted less in the physical or mundane and increasingly in the nonphysical or metaphysical (or spiritual).”

Task No. 6: Determining the Meaning of One’s Life
“Life meaning among the young is framed by styles of appearance, language, material acquisitions, and social affiliations in the quest for a solid footing in the external world...

“However, the search for life meaning undergoes a major shift in the second half of life. Whatever people’s material success, many find less and less meaning from 'things.' So, they begin to look inward rather than to the outer world in their search for life meaning.”

Task No. 7: Rebirth – Dying With Life
“Jung’s last task of aging, 'Rebirth — dying with life,' is a familiar theme throughout the religious genre, but he was not thinking religion when he framed that task. Success in prosecuting this task leads to loss fear of life and death alike. Rebirth after dying with life transports a person into the timeless domains of an artist lost in his or her work or a child absorbed in play when living in the time of a delicious moment is all that matters.”

Ronni here again:

As you can see even from the short excerpts, these are no ordinary tasks. Rather than doing, they require being and a conscious contemplation of unconscious changes that take place within us.

Perhaps I came to studying and writing about old age in my own old age from reading Jung when I was young.

ELDER MUSIC: The Singing Dead

Tibbles1SM100x130This Sunday Elder Music column was launched in December of 2008. By May of the following year, one commenter, Peter Tibbles, had added so much knowledge and value to my poor attempts at musical presentations that I asked him to take over the column. He's been here each week ever since delighting us with his astonishing grasp of just about everything musical, his humor and sense of fun. You can read Peter's bio here and find links to all his columns here.

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Not to be confused with the Grateful Dead.

There's a category of songs that were popular in the fifties and sixties that I like to think of as posthumous songs. That is, if you listen to the words, you'll find that according to the story, the singers were dead when they sang their ditties.

That always cracked me up (I'm easily amused). I thought that there should be a column in that and there just about is. I say "just about" because I cheated a little bit with some of them.

I'll start with a classic of the genre. There have been many recordings of Long Black Veil. The Band did a superb one (goes without saying), Joan Baez did a very good one on one of her very early concert albums, Johnny Cash's was excellent.

However, I'll go back to (nearly) the beginning. This may surprise some as the song sounds as if it was an old folksong whose origins are lost in the mists of time. This isn't the case.

It was written in 1959 by Danny Dill and Marijohn Wilkin. The first recorded version was by LEFTY FRIZZELL.

Lefty Frizzell

William Frizzell gained his nickname as a boy and it had nothing to do with which was his dominant hand – he was a righty – or his politics, I assume. He was considered one of the great honky tonk singers as well as one of the great singers of heartbreak songs. He did a fine job on songs like this one too.

♫ Lefty Frizzell - Long Black Veil

MARTY ROBBINS is represented by his most famous song.

Marty Robbins

The song, of course, is El Paso. Some might say that it isn't quite posthumous, but I say hang around for a minute or two and it will be.

♫ Marty Robbins - El Paso

It was a tossup whether to include ROY ORBISON.

Roy Orbison

The song I've included is Leah, quite a big hit for him. At first it sounds as if it fits in really well until the very end. Then we get a cop out – "It was all a dream.”

I'm keeping it in as it was one of the first I thought of and besides, I was a bit short of songs.

♫ Roy Orbison - Leah

You knew JOHNNY CASH had to be present.

Johnny Cash

There are several of Johnny's songs I could have used but I opted for the obvious one, 25 Minutes to Go.

♫ Johnny Cash - 25 Minutes to Go

In lists of the worst songs ever - and such things exist - this next one always rates a mention. I'd put it at the very top, it's the worst song ever committed to vinyl. The singer, more the narrator, is PAT CAMPBELL.

Pat Campbell

To say it's tasteless, to say it's appalling, to say it's dreadful is praising it. I don't want to say anymore about it, I'll just let you listen to it, if you really want to. It's called The Deal.

♫ Pat Campbell - The Deal

At the time, KYLIE MINOGUE seemed an unlikely choice for NICK CAVE to make to duet with.

Nick Cave & Kylie Minogue

However, it seemed to work. The song they perform is from the wonderful and outrageous album "Murder Ballads" but if Nick can't be outrageous who can?

I guess you could call this a semi-posthumous song as it's a duet between the murderer and the murderee. Poor old Kylie's character is dead at the time so the song fits. It's called Where the Wild Roses Grow.

♫ Nick Cave - Where the Wild Roses Grow

Here is CHER on her own but from the period when she was still Sonny &...


Indeed, Sonny wrote the song for her and it appeared on her second solo album. Cher later rerecorded it when Sonny was nowhere in evidence. The song is Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down).

♫ Cher - Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)

I hadn't realized that I Started a Joke fit our category today until I listened to it carefully, and it certainly does. It's a BEE GEES song.

Bee Gees

This was back when they were producing really fine crafted pop songs, before they stumbled into disco (quite accidently they tell us, or told us – there's only Barry still around). Anyway, here's the song.

♫ Bee Gees - I Started a Joke

I'm ashamed to admit that SONS OF THE NEVER WRONG have been around for more than 20 years and it's only recently that I stumbled over them.

Sons of the Never Wrong

About all I can tell you is that they're from Chicago and there are three of them – Bruce Roper, Sue Demel and Deborah Lader. Their song is Dead on the Highway and they certainly were, according to the song. Several times in fact.

♫ Sons of the Never Wrong - Dead on the Highway

I will always associate the song Seasons in the Sun with Terry Jacks. However, Terry wasn't the first to record it. That was Jacques Brel who wrote the song (called Le Moribond) while he was dying of cancer.

Rod McKuen translated it and several people recorded it before Terry. THE KINGSTON TRIO is a group who did.

Kingston Trio

Theirs was closer to the sardonic or even sarcastic original than Terry's overly-sentimental version and is more interesting as far as I'm concerned. It's not really a posthumous song, but like Marty above, stick around for a bit and it will be.

Here are the Kingstons with their take on the song.

♫ Kingston Trio - Seasons in the Sun



I still remember my surprise more than half a century ago when, at a radio station, I saw a stack of audio cassettes with such labels as “Eisenhower Obit.”

Not that I had thought about it but I had no idea before that day that news organizations prepared obituaries long before the death of important people. It seemed creepy to me then. I got used to it and over the years even prepared a few advance obits myself.

Now, The New York Times is one of the few remaining news outlets with full time obituary writers. A new documentary titled Obit that is an inside look at how obits are produced at The Times had its premier at the TriBeCa Film Festival in April. Here's the trailer:

The webpage for the film is here. You can read more here and here. (Hat tip to Tom Delmore for forwarding the story.)


Is there a season for colonoscopies? In the past few weeks, five or six people I know have mentioned prepping for the examination. That is, of course, a good thing, as this silly but important ditty reminds us.


Because this man in Salem, Oregon, ordered a pizza almost every day for years, the workers at Domino's got worried when there was no call from him for nearly two weeks. Their concern saved his life. Here's the story from Good Morning America.

You can read more here.


This may not seem monumental to you, but let me tell why it is to me.

Way back in the mid-1990s, when I was managing editor of the first CBS New website, I made it policy that in our stories we did not capitalize the word “internet.” I left in place capitalization of “Web” as it stands in for World Wide Web.

I've taken a lot of flak for this decision over the years. The New York Times and many, many other news organizations capitalize Internet.

My thinking is that since internet is not a company or a place or anyone's name, it does not require capitalization. It is comparable, I've kept explaining, to telephone. No one would capitalize telephone.

Now, on 1 June, the rest of the media at last catches up with me – and more:

”Associated Press editors announced a new stylebook change Saturday ahead of a session at the annual American Copy Editors Society's conference — the 2016 stylebook will lowercase the words 'internet' and 'web'."
Hardly anyone these days knows that the “web” is short for world wide web so I think lowercasing it is a good idea. You can read about the decision at Poynter.


John Oliver's HBO show, Last Week Tonight returned last Sunday from a short hiatus with comedian's caustic take on the media's reporting of scientific studies.

Of course, I laughed my ass off but this is important too. It is something I struggle with almost every day for this blog. Dozens of new studies are reported each week – more than you might think that relate to old people, too, and most of them are years away from proving anything – if they ever will. But I still need to plow through the reports to know that.

An added difficulty is that news stories (as opposed to the research itself) all too often report the results of, for example, a study of 12 fruit flies as proof that cancer is now cured. I cannot express how much I love John Oliver for this video essay. Someone needed to say this and he's a lot funnier than I am.


TGB reader Margaret Cardoza sent this item and its amazing. As Alan Taylor at The Atlantic reported,

”On Wednesday, the United Kingdom marked the 75th anniversary of 'The Longest Night,' the final horrible night of the Blitz—an eight-month-long aerial bombing offensive launched by Nazi Germany during World War II.

“More than 40,000 British civilians were killed in the Blitz, 1.5 million Londoners were left homeless, and the city’s landscape was left shattered.”

Recently, Getty photographer Jim Dyson traveled to some of the devastated London locations and produced a series of amazing then(in b&w)/now (in color) photographs of the same location edited together. Here is an example of Westminster Abbey.

Blitz Westminster

And another of Leicester Square.

Blitz Leicester Square

You can see many more photos of London 75 years ago and now at The Atlantic.


Pay attention here, Americans: Last Sunday, 8 May, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull called for federal elections to be held on – wait for it – 2 July. That would be a 55-day campaign. Here's a short report:

The longest campaign ever in Australia. Oh, god - if only we in the United States could have a campaign as long as Australia's. You can read more here.


MSNBC host and pundit Rachel Maddow stopped by the Late Night with Seth Meyers TV show this week and the two of them had a short, important conversation about the election campaign.


This gave me my biggest out-loud laugh of the week and now that I'm writing it, I'm laughing again. It would have been easy enough to miss the story if Mediaite had not reported it:

”...in the complex worlds of print and digital journalism, even the media giants make errors every now and then. Sometimes it’s a slight misspelling of someone’s names, or perhaps a job title that’s a little off. In these cases, editors print corrections — official statements of error, usually italics, to indicate a slight mistake in an earlier version of the story.

“Well, this is certainly one of the greatest corrections of 2016.”

Here is how the correction appears at the bottom of The Times story:


You can read the Mediaite report here and The New York Times story with appended correction here.


The YouTube page explains:

”Stella is a perfectly healthy yellow lab. She uses her 'dog brakes' to cool down her belly on the grass after she's been fetching and playing. She has been tested for EIC and has no medical issues at all.”

I have no idea what that last sentence means but this is one of the happiest videos I've seen recently. I dare you not to grin while you're watching.

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Interesting Stuff is a weekly listing of short takes and links to web items that have caught my attention; some related to aging and some not, some useful and others just for fun.

You are all encouraged to submit items for inclusion. Just click “Contact” at the top of any Time Goes By page to send them. I'm sorry that I won't have time to acknowledge receipt and there is no guarantee of publication. But when I do include them, you will be credited and I will link to your blog IF you include the name of the blog and its URL.