Acting Your Age with oomph!

July 20, 2010 by  
Filed under inspiration

old-sky
I just read in the New York Times an article called “Turn 70, Act Your Grandchild’s Age,” which plays into the notion that some of us expect 70 year olds to act like you should be 20 not 70. This article makes me think of the work we do here at oomphTV. I hope we don’t give the false impression that you must act like a 20 year old to have oomph!

Accepting your age and your limitations, while still doing what you want (and being realistic about what you can do) is part of the message of oomphTV. And a big part of having oomph! is simply enjoying and celebrating life, no matter what you can and can’t do. After all, life is short and let’s simply enjoy what we can while we are here.

Recently Ringo Starr celebrated his 70th birthday by playing at the Radio City Music Hall and saying his new hero is BB King, who still jams in his 80s. They will be followed by Bob Dylan (“May you stay forever young”) and Paul Simon (“How terribly strange to be 70”) who still both perform and write music.
ringo-starr
Dr. Butler, a psychiatrist, died, at age 83, a few days before Ringo’s big bash. No one, his colleagues said, had done more to improve the image of aging in America. His work established that the old did not inevitably become senile, and that they could be productive, intellectually engaged, and active, sexually and otherwise. His life provided a good example: He worked until three days before his death from acute leukemia.

But as much as Dr. Butler would have cheered an aging Beatle onstage, his colleagues said he would have also cautioned against embracing the opposite stereotype, the idea that “aging successfully,” in his phrase, means that you have to be banging on drums in front of thousands or still be acting like you did at 22 or 42.

“The stories that we hear tend to pull us toward the extreme,” said Anne Basting, the director of the Center on Age and Community at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee. “It’s either the stories of young-onset Alzheimer’s, or it’s the sky-diving grandmas. We don’t hear enough about the huge middle, which is the vast majority of folks.”
betty-white
In the film and television business, the business I’m in, Clint Eastwood is still directing films at 80 and Betty White is now starring in a new sitcom at 88 (I worked with her on “Ugly Betty” and she was amazing) The pressure for 70 and 80 year olds is not to face mortality, but to kick up those slightly arthritic heels ever higher.

In the eighth decade, said Dr. Basting, is “now seen as an active time of life: you’re just past retirement, that’s your time to explore and play mentally.” But while many will be healthy, others will not. “There will be an increase in frailty and disability because people are living longer,” said S. Jay Olshansky, a demographer at the University of Illinois at Chicago who studies aging. For some people, an increased risk of stroke and Alzheimer’s “is going to be the price they pay for extended longevity,” he said.

The risk, gerontologists say, is that in celebrating the remarkable stories, we make those not playing Radio City, and certainly those suffering the diseases that often accompany old age, feel inadequate.

Thomas R. Cole, director of the McGovern Center for Health, Humanities and the Human Spirit at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston and the author of a cultural history of aging, said “We’re going to make it look like if you’re sick, it’s your own fault. If you’re not having orgasms or running marathons, there’s something wrong with you.
elderly-sign
Here at oomphTV we don’t want to just portray “aging extremes,” but also inspirational people that fall somewhere in the middle. If we simply profiled extremes we would run into the possibility of alienating everyday people.

We did produce a story on Jack Kirk – The Dipsea Demon, the 94 year old runner. He could be considered one of those extremes. However, we also profiled Alice and Richard Matzkin. Both Alice and Richard Matzkin express themselves through their art, one by painting and the other by sculpting. They are not running any foot race, but clearly they have oomph!
alice-richard
In addition, we are currently in post-production on “The Green Buddha”, a wonderful story about my sister, Dana Dowell Windatt, and my own mother, Jeanne Dowell, that have started a new apparel business, based on gratitude. My mother has just turned 80 and was the original inspiration behind oomphtv.com She is not running a marathon or doing trapeze, but she is still doing what she wants to do at 80 years of age.

We are looking for different kinds of stories about people over 40 and sometimes way over 40 that have oomph! However, we do want to include stories of people that do have limitations. If you know of any, please write to us.

I hope we have found the right balance. Please feel free to write us and let us know what your thoughts are. We want to continue to inspire and inform, but not alienate our audience.

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Comments

2 Responses to “Acting Your Age with oomph!”
  1. jeannedowell says:

    Great article Dave! Thanks for the plug

  2. Jim says:

    Thank you for your article about health and older people. Check out this original song on You Tube about growing old in hard times.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uM5HDRxwPns

    Thanks,
    Jim

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