Saturday, May 24, 2008

Demographics of Aging

What are the demographics of the aging population in the United States? First of all, older men are significantly outnumbered by older women. For every man 85 or older, there are 2.2 women in the same age bracket. Over the age of 100, the ration becomes 5:1. Above the age of 65 there are four times as many widows as widowers. Florida is the state with the highest percentage of people 65 and older at 17%. Care to venture a guess on which state has the second highest percentage of people in this age group? In my next blog entry, I’ll give you the answer.

Sunday, May 18, 2008


As we age we all start forgetting things. But there’s a big difference between this normal memory loss of the aging process and dementia. As a specialist said at a talk I heard two years ago, there’s nothing wrong with forgetting where you put your reading glasses, but when you find them in the refrigerator, then you need to start to worry. 28% of the population age 85 and over has some form of mental disorder. This includes a variety of forms of dementia including Alzheimer’s. The brain is a strange and wonderful instrument. A recent article in National Geographic Magazine (November 2007) describes the extremes. On one hand a man who suffered brain damage from a herpes simplex virus can’t remember anything new after it happens. He lives a moment and it disappears. A similar case was described in a New Yorker article (September 24, 2007) about Clive Wearing whose wife Deborah wrote a memoir “Forever Today.” Clive lost brain function as a result of a herpes encephalitis infection. He can’t remember anything after it happens, but has retained his ability to play classical music on a piano.
The other extreme described in the National Geographic article is a woman who remembers everything that ever happened to her. She can recall an event for any particular time and date in her life. So take your choice. Would you rather remember too little or too much?

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Aging Sleuths - Geezer Lit Mysteries

In the May issue of AARP Bulletin (page 6), there is an article about aging sleuths that mentions mystery novels by Cynthia Riggs, Parnell Hall, Rita Lakin and me. Harlan Coben, president of Mystery Writers of America is quoted as saying, “We’ve just scratched the surface on so-called geezer lit. It could be the next big frontier in crime fiction.” I heartedly agree. With the aging of the population and the fact the many readers are older, there will be an increasing appeal of older protagonists in amateur sleuth/cozy mysteries. All the authors mentioned above have wonderful older sleuths—75 year old Gladdy Gold who is a self-proclaimed private investigator living in a condo in Florida (Rita Lakin), 92 year old poet Victoria Trumbull on Martha’s Vineyard (Cynthia Riggs), gun-totting Cora Felton who won’t divulge her age in the Puzzle Lady series (Parnell Hall) and 84 year old Paul Jacobson who suffers from short-term memory loss (me). Also check out the email loop on Yahoo called Senior Sleuths Forum. The participants are readers and writers who are interested in aging sleuths.

Saturday, May 3, 2008


Here’s a little exercise you can do to gain some insight into your priorities. Take 100 points and divide them between four categories: activities, relationships, thoughts and things. I’m an activity type of person but not interested in things, so when I do this exercise I come out activities – 40; relationships – 30; thoughts – 30; and things – 0. Give it a try and see what you come up with.