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What makes a happy nonagenarian? asks @Guardian

by on April 18, 2016

With the fast approaching 90th birthday of the Queen, it seems 90 is the new [insert other age here].  Much will no doubt be made of the fact that the Queen is yet to retire, and this article in the Guardian, looks at what makes a happy nonagenarian and perhaps unsurprisingly finds that wealth is a key contributor.  However overall the article reports that studies of the ‘older old’ are finding they are increasingly active (though perhaps not all are riding a horse like the Queen and other categories used in the research include more mundane activities such as ‘cutting toenails’).

The article is well worth a read and I particularly liked the discussion of exceptionalism.  Pointing out that the Queen and others such as “Patricia Routledge, still acting at 87, or Diana Athill, still writing at 98, all are treated as exceptions” in that work still features in their everyday activities.  The article goes on to quote Thomas Scharf, professor of social gerontology at Newcastle University: “Exceptionalism is itself a form of benevolent ageism.. It makes the very much older person who is active seem a breed apart, but they are only older versions of us…Older people are regarded as a burden on society, yet the evidence shows civic life is sustained by engaged, much older people“.


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