Archive for the ‘Bob Gaydos’ Category

Teens, Food, Eating … Addiction?

Monday, June 13th, 2022

Addiction and Recovery   

By Bob Gaydos

73602518-9FFF-4EBA-93AC-F0BDAB457FB1The list of substances or behaviors to which adolescents can become unhealthily attached, even addicted, can seem endless to a parent inclined to be caring and protective: alcohol, smoking, drugs, gambling, video games, social media, internet, cell phones, sex, shopping, eating …

Wait, eating you say? Yes, eating. Or food. It depends. There’s a debate over whether the problems are the same thing. Some say that someone who craves the same food, say sweets or salty chips, and consumes it in unhealthy amounts might be considered a food addict, a term not universally accepted, but one that is useful in defining a behavior. The food in question reacts on the brain in the same way that alcohol or another drug would. It rewards the person, who feels good.

Some say that someone for whom eating — anything and plenty of it — is a fulltime job with significant negative consequences might be considered to have an eating addiction, rather than a food addiction. Eating may provide the same kind of escape and temporary excitement that gambling, for example, would in someone else. An irresistible reward.

And, of course, these harmful behaviors often co-exist. Addictions may have biological, psychological, or social causes, or, likely, a combination of them.The focus here is not on debating the food/eating addiction question, but rather on recognizing that food addictions and eating disorders — a different category of self-destructive behavior, including anorexia, bulimia and binge eating — can often be ignored in teens when there is so much talk in media — social and otherwise — about drinking and driving, opioid abuse, the pros and cons of marijuana and the rest of that list.

Teens eat, adults say. Sometimes they eat a lot. Maybe a lot of junk food. They’re growing. So what’s the big deal?

Maybe nothing; maybe something. A primary goal of this column is to provide useful information to help readers identify and get help for addictive behavior and some studies say up to 10 percent of Americans may have a food-related addiction or disorder. One in 10 female teens may have an eating disorder. A smaller percentage of teen boys, perhaps athletes such as wrestlers or runners, also have issues that revolve around body weight and image. What follows are some symptoms and questions to help you decide if you or someone you know, perhaps a teenager, has a health issue involving food. 

The following are possible symptoms of a food addiction:

— Gorging

— Eating to the point of feeling ill

— Going out of your way to obtain certain foods

— Continuing to eat certain foods even if no longer hungry

— Eating in secret

— Avoiding social interactions, relationships to spend time eating certain foods.

— Difficulty functioning in a job or school due to decreased efficiency

— Spending a significant amount of money on buying certain foods to binge

— Obesity

— Fatigue

— Difficulty concentrating

— Sleep disorders, such as insomnia or oversleeping

— Headaches

— Irritability

— Digestive disorders

— Thoughts of suicide

Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous, a 12-step group that seeks to help people with food addictions or disorders, offers its own quiz to help people determine if they have a problem with food. As always, answer as honestly as possible:

Have you ever wanted to stop eating and found you just couldn’t? 

Do you think about food or your weight constantly? 

Do you find yourself attempting one diet or food plan after another, with no lasting success? 

Do you binge and then “get rid of the binge” through vomiting, exercise, laxatives, or other forms of purging? 

Do you eat differently in private than you do in front of other people? 

Has a doctor or family member ever approached you with concern about your eating habits or weight? 

Do you eat large quantities of food at one time (binge)? 

Is your weight problem due to your “nibbling” all day long? 

Do you eat to escape from your feelings? 

Do you eat when you’re not hungry? 

Have you ever discarded food, only to retrieve and eat it later? 

Do you eat in secret? 

Do you fast or severely restrict your food intake? 

Have you ever stolen other people’s food? 

Have you ever hidden food to make sure you have “enough”?

Do you feel driven to exercise excessively to control your weight? 

Do you obsessively calculate the calories you’ve burned against the calories you’ve eaten? 

Do you frequently feel guilty or ashamed about what you’ve eaten? 

Are you waiting for your life to begin “when you lose the weight”?

Do you feel hopeless about your relationship with food?

A “yes” answer to any question could indicate a problem with food, the group says.

 Obviously, these are complex issues with serious — even life-threatening — potential consequences that need to be addressed as early as possible by trained professionals. There are a variety of programs and organizations to turn to If you suspect a food-related problem. Consult your doctor to begin with and check any of the accompanying links for more information. 

 For help

— www.foodaddictsanonymous.org

— www.recoveryfromfoodaddiction.org

— www.foodaddicts.org

— www.oa.org

— www.eatingdisordersanonymous.org

— www.nationaleatingdisorders.org

— www.nimh.nih.gov

— www.mentalhealthamerica.net

rjgaydos@gmail.com

Bob Gaydos is writer-in-residence at zestoforange.com.

Mass Murders, Insanity … Our America

Thursday, June 2nd, 2022

By Bob Gaydos

 F6BB8580-548F-45C1-9ADC-21E887D51A37   How messed up is America? This messed up:

    Having written far too many editorials and columns in my lifetime on violence and the need for sensible gun control and more resources for mental health programs, I stopped after writing a couple of paragraphs on the murder by a teenager of 10 black Americans who simply happened to be in a supermarket in Buffalo one afternoon.

     I was too depressed. It’s the same, old story. Do some yard work. Give it a couple days.

     He who hesitates. A couple of days later I was watching the escalating body count as yet another teenager slaughtered virtually an entire fourth grade class in Uvalde, Texas.

     Nineteen children. Two teachers. The slaughter in Texas knocked the massacre in Buffalo off the front pages before we had time to properly grieve that senseless loss of life.

     That’s how messed up America is.

     After reading the early reports of the escalating body count in that fourth grade classroom in Uvalde, I turned off my phone and shut my eyes.

     I cried. If you’re a parent, you’ll get it. Hell, if you’re just a normal, caring adult who appreciates the joy and promise of children, you’ll get it. I pictured myself as one of the parents standing outside the school, screaming and crying as police stood frozen, also outside, while a deranged teenager with a military-style killing machine blew their children apart inside. And I wept. And I cursed.

   And I said, what the hell, I’ve written this editorial dozens of times already. We know the solutions.

   Apparently, we don’t. Not all of them. We know that universal background checks for purchase of a firearm makes sense. Most Americans support this. We know that banning the sale of military-style assault rifles will reduce the civilian death toll. It’s already been proven. We know from sad experience that more mental health resources, especially for young people and schools, are vitally needed in our social media era.

     We also know that the National Rifle Association and gun manufacturers have the Republican Party in their pockets. Bought and paid for. They will fight gun control measures to the last student’s dying breath.

      And that’s the last, obvious, part of the solution to mass shootings in America: Voting for state and national representatives who will support the necessary changes. The one we keep ignoring.

   It has been said that doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is insanity. Well then, screaming about the need for changes in gun laws and repeatedly voting for people obviously opposed to them — paid to oppose them — is a form of insanity.

     Worse yet is screaming for the need for change and not bothering to register or even bothering to vote for people who would fight for those changes. Deadly apathy.

      It comes down to this: For whatever their individual reasons, Republicans don’t seem to care about the slaughter in our schools. They have sold their soul for some votes, power and their twisted image of what “liberty and justice for all” means.

       We know very well what needs to be done. We just need to get the final part right. If we want to clean up this mess, we have to behave like responsible Americans and stop voting for Republicans. It’s time to stop expecting different results. Otherwise, nothing will change but the body count.

(Full disclosure: The author is not now and has never been a member of any political party. He is a registered independent voter.)

rjgaydos@gmail.com

Bob Gaydos is writer-in-residence at zestoforange.com.

      

To Live and Die in America

Monday, April 25th, 2022



 The world in 500 words or less 

By Bob Gaydos

Maybe it’s just me, but…

Alec Baldwin on the set of “Rust.” He says he didn’t know the gun was loaded.

Alec Baldwin on the set of “Rust.” He says he didn’t know the gun was loaded.

— New Mexico’s Occupational Health and Safety Bureau fined producers of the film, “Rust,” $139,793 — the maximum amount — and issued a stinging criticism of safety failures in connection with the fatal shooting of a cinematographer and wounding of the director during the filming of the movie. Actor/producer Alec Baldwin, who fired the fatal shot, says he was told the gun was safe. He is probably not through with the courts and may rue the day he lost his gig playing Donald Trump on Saturday Night Live.

— South Carolina has given the phrase “pick your poison“ a whole new meaning. Unable to procure the drugs to administer lethal injections to Death Row inmates, the state now offers electrocution or firing squad as the available means of meeting your maker. A recent candidate appealed both the sentence and method as cruel and unusual and a court has postponed his date with destiny. There have been only three firing squad executions in the U.S. since 1950, all in the state of Utah. Why is that not surprising?

— The reason South Carolina had to stop using lethal injections for executions is that pharmaceutical companies apparently forbid the sale of their products for that purpose. Wish they showed the same concern for some of their drugs that are killing people who are not on Death Row.

— Prescribing fatal overdoses of fentanyl for 25 seriously ill patients would seem to be taking the doctor-playing-god thing a bit too far. Then again, a jury in Columbus, Ohio, had no problem with it, acquitting Dr. William Husel of murder charges in a trial involving 14 of those deaths. Putting people out of their misery did cost Husel his job when the hospital fired him and 26 other employees who went along with his unorthodox treatment protocol. Why it took several years and so many fentanyl-induced deaths has yet to be answered.

— The judges who selected this year’s winners of the John F. Kennedy Profiles in Courage Award got it perfect. Volodymyr Zelensky, president of Ukraine, was an obvious choice and eminently deserving, but the perfect selection was Rep. Liz Cheney, the only Republican in Congress with the guts, conviction and public name recognition to meaningfully stand up to the Trumpers spreading the stolen election lie and trying to treat the Jan. 6 insurrection as something other than a failed coup attempt. Forcefully defying the powers who can impact your political future takes moral courage, especially for Republicans today. I think JFK would applaud the choice. And, while I don’t share a lot of political views with Cheney or her father, Dick, I believe the former vice president should be proud of his daughter and her stout defense of the truth. Ironic, huh?

rjgaydos@gmail.com

 

Baseball’s less than perfect week

Sunday, April 17th, 2022

The world in 500 words or less

By Bob Gaydos

Maybe it’s just me, but:

Apr 12, 2022; San Francisco, California, USA; San Francisco Giants assistant coach Alyssa Nakken

Alyssa Nakken

— Major League Baseball had a red letter day recently when Alyssa Nakken became the first female coach on the field, for the San Francisco Giants. Well-played.

— On the other hand, there was yet another sign that the people running the game have lost all sense of what once made baseball America’s pastime. With Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw six outs away from pitching a perfect game and having thrown all of 80 pitches, LA manager Dave Roberts pulled Kershaw from the game. Kershaw later said he was OK with the move. I doubt it. Imagine yanking Gibson or Ryan or Spahn or Seaver or Koufax or even David Cone, for Pete’s sake, in that situation. Baseball used to be a game of historic efforts and legends. Kershaw had a shot at history and deserved the opportunity. Moneyball isn’t necessarily baseball.

— Part two of what used to be baseball. Say that Kershaw stayed in the game and pitched two more perfect innings, but the score was tied at zero after nine innings. Kershaw gets to keep trying to be perfect and goes out to pitch the 10th inning. There’s a runner on second base. Kershaw didn’t put him there; baseball did. Is it still a perfect game? What if someone actually sacrifice bunts the runner over to third and the next better hits a long sacrifice fly that allows the runner to score? Do you yank Kershaw now because he’s actually losing a perfect game? Or maybe he’s on the road and just lost a perfect game. I guess with pitch counts we’ll never know.

— Confirmation of the eminently qualified Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s historic appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court was a red-letter day for America. Less celebratory is the fact that 47 Republican senators had to tie themselves in knots trying to come up with reasons to vote against her that did not include “she’s a woman and she’s black.” Another shameful moment for the former party of Lincoln.

— The only nasty thing Attorney General Merrick Garland has caught recently is COVID-19.

— In another effort to bolster his base by lowering the average IQ score of Republicans in the House of Representatives, Donald Trump endorsed Sarah Palin for Alaska’s lone congressional seat. Well, for what it’s worth, she can spy on Russia from where she lives.

— The Taliban forbidding females to get schooled beyond grade six didn’t surprise me. But banning the growing of poppies, Afghanistan’s traditional crop? What the heck do they do for cash?

— Didn’t see this coming: There’s apparently a fertilizer shortage created by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The U.S. should be OK as long as Lindsay Graham and Ted Cruz still get to give speeches in the Senate.

— I just don’t trust Elon Musk on buying Twitter. Buy Texas. It needs fixing a lot more.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

 

Ukraine’s New Kind of Reality Show

Wednesday, April 6th, 2022

(more…)

Jada, Clarence, Ukraine …

Monday, April 4th, 2022

All the news in 500 words or less

By Bob Gaydos

This is not an old coot.

Bob Gaydos

  Maybe it’s just me, but:

— Jada Pinkett Smith could’ve handled Chris Rock’s lame joke very well on her own. And besides, taking cues on appropriate behavior from movie stars is probably not sound social policy.

— Clarence Thomas should be permanently recused from the Supreme Court and his wife should be investigated for promoting an insurrection.

— Warming up to 41° from 23° is not my idea of spring.

— So is there a runner on second base to start the 10th inning this year, and, if so, how did he get there?

— Saying Merrick Garland has been an absolute disappointment as Attorney General pretty much says it all.

— Does anybody even go to the movies movies — where you have to pay for the seats and can’t bring your own popcorn — anymore?

— Alcohol-related deaths increased by 25% in the United States in the first year of Covid. Does that surprise you, trouble you or disturb your serenity in any way?

— Don’t think all those Republican senators who broke bread with Putin a few years back will be visiting Moscow this Fourth of July.

— Having 20/20 vision (thanks to cataract surgery) after nearly 8 decades of being almost legally blind, is a blessing I appreciate every day.

— If Congress makes daylight savings time standard (still doubtful), shouldn’t we then call it standard time? After all, we’re not really “saving“ time, we’re just moving it around to suit our convenience.

— My heart goes out to the brave, proud people of Ukraine. They will pay a tremendous price, but Putin has lost his war.

— It’s difficult to see Andrew Cuomo being elected governor again in New York, even with marijuana being legal.

     That’s it. Remember local newspapers? Yeah, they were cool, huh?

rjgaydos@gmail.com

Study: A.A. Meetings May be Lifesavers

Friday, March 25th, 2022



Addiction and Recovery

By Bob Gaydos

 The absence of in person meetings lead to relaxes, a study suggests.

The absence of in person meetings lead to relapses, a study suggests.

   “Don’t drink … and go to meetings.”

    “Meeting-makers make it.”

    Those two bits of advice — “suggestions” as they are officially considered — have been welcoming newcomers to Alcoholics Anonymous ever since the group was born 86 years ago. 

     The message is simple: Alcoholics, especially those new to recovery, are more likely to get and stay sober if they keep regular contact with other alcoholics in recovery. The “all in the same boat” philosophy. “We” get sober, especially if some of us know how to do it and can guide others. Fellowship. Coffee. Hugs and handshakes. Easy does it.

      Then came COVID. No more hugs. No more handshakes. No more coffee. No face-to-face support and fellowship. And for some, no recovery. Or worse.

       According to a recent report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, alcohol-related deaths increased by 25 percent in the United States in the first year of Covid. Researchers from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) looked at mortality data to compare the number of alcohol-related deaths among persons aged 16 and older in 2019 and 2020. Deaths were considered to be alcohol-related if alcohol was listed as an underlying or contributing cause.

          The report found that the number of alcohol-related deaths, including from liver disease and accidents, jumped to 99,017 in 2020, up from 78,927 the previous year. That 25 percent increase is compared to an average increase of 3.6 percent annually for the previous 20 years. Perhaps not surprisingly, in response to the pandemic, many Americans drank more. They binged more. And more of them died because of it.

           The researchers cited the stress of living with all the changes and restrictions of Covid, including isolation, as a major factor in the increase in drinking and deaths. Of course, isolation and feeling stressed are major reasons many alcoholics drink. Recovery is largely about dealing with stress and other people without drinking.

         In addition to the Covid-related stress in general, it became more difficult to seek help at rehabs. Hospitals with recovery programs were swamped with Covid patients. The researchers say many people got discouraged and just put off looking for help.

            And for those meeting-makers, there were no more meetings. At least not in person. The researchers also said they assumed many people in recovery relapsed because they couldn’t access any in-person support, including from 12-step groups like AA.

           To be sure, Zoom meetings proliferated online and many AA members found themselves staring at their smart phones or iPads, communicating with alcoholics across the nation and, indeed, across the world. The messages were the same, just not in person. Make your own coffee. Hug your cat. It was new and, for many, a welcome lifeline.

         But for many others, this wasn’t enough. Having been resourceful about managing to get a drink, a lot of alcoholics in recovery did manage to figure out how to have meetings in person, safely.

         In New York’s Mid-Hudson region, some began meeting in their cars in parking lots. Once the weather warmed up, groups with venues that offered private space began meeting outside. Bring your own chairs and coffee. Meetings sprang up in parks throughout Orange, Ulster and Sullivan counties. If there was a park pavilion with a large crowd of people sitting quietly and sipping coffee, there was a good chance it was an AA meeting. The restrictions or requirements changed with Covid. Masks, sanitizer, and social distancing were common place.  It wasn’t the same, most agreed, but it was far better than not meeting at all.

      COVID is not yet gone. It seems to keep reinventing itself. Local AA groups continue to adapt as well, most now meeting indoors, with or without masking and distancing rules. For many, the coffee pots are back. Zoom meetings continue.

      But the importance of in-person contact is not lost on many members.

       “The meetings are where I get my medicine,” says F.G., a longtime member from Orange County. “I need to see the faces,” he says.

        More personally, G.E., an Ulster County resident, says he was within months of 25 years of sobriety when he stopped going to meetings and eventually relapsed. Then Covid arrived. Back a couple of months now, he says, “I must treasure my sobriety. I have to respect it. I thought I could do it without the personal contact. I couldn’t. Now, I really enjoy the fellowship.”

       At least one study suggests there’s a compelling reason to continue to do so.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

 

With the Bases Loaded, Baseball Whiffs

Thursday, March 10th, 2022

By Bob Gaydos

   F023405A-4B43-4727-BBFE-117778586F71 The world is in the third year of a deadly pandemic, Russia has started a brutal war in Europe, the United States is still reeling from an attack on the U.S. Capitol by a mob of white nationalists trying to overturn a presidential election, one of the country’s two major political parties has become a.cult led by a con man with fascist DNA … and there’s no baseball.

     Take it easy. I’m not putting the Major League Baseball lockout in the same category as the grab bag of historic events dominating our lives today (and I’ll add global warming). That’s actually the point.

     When the world goes, well, to hell, a person needs somewhere safe to go for a break. Sports in general and, in the bleak of February especially, baseball has filled that need for me.

     February typically means the Super Bowl ends the football season and pitchers and catchers report to spring training to start the new baseball season. But there was nothing typical with this February. With the contract between players and owners expired and no new agreement ready to be signed, team owners locked the doors to training facilities in Florida and Arizona. No contract, no getting into shape at our digs. Dumb.

       Both sides then toughened their negotiating stances in the contest between billionaires and millionaires on how to share the wealth from TV deals and over-priced tickets. And Rob Manfred, MLB commissioner, started talking about delaying the start of the season or shortening it. Dumber.

     Since my mid-teens, I have followed the practice of the late Chief Justice Earl Warren by turning to the sports pages to start my day. Time enough for the rest of the world. Sports for the most part is safe conflict. No one really gets hurt, except the gamblers.

     But lockouts and shortened seasons are not the headlines baseball fans were looking for. Not safe.

      Nor smart, from a business sense. Think about it. With all the grim news in the world and having already surrendered the national pastime crown to football by focusing on how fast a baseball can get to home plate and how much faster it can leave the park, baseball decision-makers blew a golden opportunity to grab some attention and provide some stress relief with positive, non-confrontational news. New contract! Who’s the talk of training camp? A comeback story? No more starting extra innings with a runner on second base?

       Instead, we got Derek Jeter quitting as boss of the Marlins because they apparently don’t want to win as much as he does, bigger bases to improve the success rate of stolen base attempts, a lockout and Opening Day pushed back two weeks. 

       Oh yeah, and no more shifts because major league hitters apparently can no longer hit it where they ain’t.

      You blew it, baseball. Fans were looking for a hit-and-run. Instead, they got an intentional walk. You picked a really bad time to play moneyball.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

Bob Gaydos is writer-in-residence at zestoforange.com. 

When Everyone Speaks Ukrainian

Thursday, March 3rd, 2022


By Bob Gaydos

AZ FLAG Ukraine Flag 3' x 5' - Ukrainian Flags 90 x 150 cm ...

  I’m not Ukrainian. At least, I don’t think I am. That slight doubt exists because I spent my formative years (I hesitate to say I grew up) in Bayonne, much of which was like someone scooped up boatloads of people from Eastern Europe and replanted them in Northern New Jersey.

    Which, of course, is what happened.

    Our next-door neighbors were Ukrainian. A family a few houses down was Ukrainian, as well as one across the street.

     We were (are) Slovak. Or Czech. Or Russian. Or Polish. Or, most likely, some combination of the above or other Slavic nation. Amidst this polyglot of Eastern Europe a short bus ride from New York City, everyone seemed to speak the same language. It didn’t seem to matter what the nationality of the person was, my grandparents, my parents, my aunts and uncles all seemed to be able to converse with them.

        A stroll down Broadway with my grandmother on a chilly (“zimno” in Polish) fall day would produce a lot of smiling head nods and “dobre, dobre.” Good, good.

        It was all Russian to me.

        So was the mass I served as an altar boy at St. John’s Greek Catholic Church, which my father’s family attended, and at Saints Peter and Paul Russian Orthodox Church, which the other half of my family ( and I) attended. In a city of churches, Eastern Europe was well represented. Including Ukrainians.

         This nostalgic trip down memory lane is prompted, of course, by the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the outpouring of support and admiration for the courageous Ukrainian people from other peoples around the world. No matter the language, everyone seems to understand Ukrainian all of a sudden. And no one, except apparently Belarus and North Korea, is speaking the same language as the leaders of Russia.

         The sad reality of this misbegotten display of pride, power and paranoia by Russian President Vladimir Putin is that, while Ukrainians will obviously endure tremendous loss and suffering as a result of this invasion, ordinary Russians, who also wanted no part of this war, will suffer as well. Russian soldiers will die as well as Ukrainians. The worldwide outpouring of support for Ukraine has isolated Russia, again, from much of the rest of the world. Even those who speak the same language, want no part of Putin’s war.

         It’s been some time since I visited Bayonne and I understand if has changed quite a bit. But the churches are still there and I’d like to think that some of the children, grandchildren, even great-grandchildren, of the neighbors who used to smile and nod at my grandmother on Broadway are still there and all still seem to speak the same language when they talk about Ukraine, shake their heads sadly, and say, “Bozhe, Bozhe, Bozhe.”

My God, My God, My God.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

   Bob Gaydos is writer-in-residence at zestoforange.com.  

          

         

 

On Being Old vs. Being ‘Elderly’

Sunday, February 20th, 2022

 

From “ The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,”by T.S. Eliot.

From “ The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” by T.S. Eliot.

By Bob Gaydos

 I was born in 1941. I am chronologically old. However, in my opinion at least, I am not “an old man.” And I am definitely not “elderly.”

       I’m also a little annoyed at having to once again explain to the under-50 crowd the nuances of referring to the over-50 crowd. But obviously someone has to do it.

       A while back, I wrote a column headlined “I am not an old coot.“ Pretty self-explanatory. A health professional, apparently trying to be cute, had referred to me in that less-than-complimentary manner. I had apparently displayed an ability to think and speak for myself. I was not amused. In the vast spectrum of ways one can refer to persons who have lived a certain number of years, old coot is down near the bottom of the list. I have occasionally been referred to as a curmudgeon and I will accept that, even with a bit of pride. But in all humility, I figure I fit in someplace between old coot and village elder.

     That does not mean I feel that I am “elderly.“ This issue arose in a recent social media posting, the headline of which referred to an “elderly couple.”

      He was 64 and she was 61. That’s not even Social Security old. Someone left a comment that pointed this out. The poster defended the description by saying the male had referred to himself as “an old man,“ (See above. Like this younger gentleman, I may accurately call myself old, especially in comparison to others. It’s a fact. But “elderly” is another dimension.)

      The thing is, “elderly” is a loaded word and none of the images it suggests, even when accurate, is especially flattering to the older person being described. Some can be hurtful. And that ought to matter.

       I asked a few people what came to mind when I said the word “elderly.” I got back: feeble, infirm, doddering, technically challenged, sick, cranky, slow, boring, out of touch.

        I did not get back: experienced, knowledgeable, reliable, funny, comforting, competent, patient, concerned, aware, talented, smart or tech savvy.  

        Now, with those responses in mind, if you just went by the numbers to define elderly just think of all the actors, musicians, artists, writers, scientists, teachers, business, civic and political leaders who would be dismissed.

        Elton John, 74, is holding a farewell tour because he is a well-respected, talented, legendary musician who has contributed significantly to society for many years and wants to do other things. Does anyone think he is elderly?

        Whether you like her politics or not, there isn’t a sharper, more energetic,  more dedicated political leader in this country than House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, 81, a wise senior member of Congress.

        I recently watched a YouTube interview with linguist Noam Chomsky, who looked every bit of the 93 years he has lived. But elderly? A village elder, I submit.

       It’s simple. Numbers don’t always tell the story. Old age isn’t what it used to be, at least not for everybody. They say 60 is the new 40, 80 is the new 60. I don’t know.

        I do know those equations don’t hold up in the job market. It’s called ageism. I also think that seniors should show respect for younger people in general, remembering what it was like having to learn so much. And I think younger people should respect seniors for having put in the time to do all that learning. Of course, there are always exceptions.  

        Anyway, if you’re under 50, maybe think a little bit about how you refer to those over 60. About how you would like to be referred to when you are, say, 64 or 84. 

          As Shakespeare suggested, methinks some of thee may think I doth protest too much. Well, that’s the curmudgeon in me. Get over it. Someone has to speak out for the seniors in our society, so why not this old man?

* * *

”I grow old … I grow old …

I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.
Shall I part my hair behind?   Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.
I do not think that they will sing to me.”
From “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”
By T.S. Eliot

rjgaydos@gmail.com

Bob Gaydos is writer-in-residence at zestoforange.com.