Gray is great, bald is beautiful

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And didn’t’ that get your attention, dear reader? And it just might happen as the Manhattan population gets increasingly older and old. Oh, yes, the word “old” will be used rather than age-denial labels like “older” and “senior.”

Just one of many radical thoughts after reading last week’s Our Town front page story “The Graying of Manhattan” by reporter Douglas Feiden. This demographic change couldn’t be more important for all New Yorkers to read about, and especially its policymakers, whose bulletins say very little about old people’s concerns.

The welcome exception is another of Senator Liz Krueger’s Boomer Senior forums, scheduled for Thursday March 14 from 8:30 to 10:30 A.M. The accessible venue is Lenox Hill Neighborhood House, 331 East 70th Street. This forum’s topic is loneliness, and here’s hoping the most likely lonely senior group of people are able to attend.

And these invaluable forums could use a little more interaction between the boomers and seniors sitting together at these large round tables — to at least say hello and my name is such and such. Hopefully, the aging of Manhattan will help overcome the systemic age-segregation reason this doesn’t automatically occur.

Isn’t this also an elder loneliness cause? But I have found that panelists on this topic mainly stress what individuals must do, especially elder ones who are told to “get involved, go to the senior center, etc.” Ah, but that involvement so needs to challenge the systems which segregate generations, not to mention the prejudice against getting older and old.

Can you believe, there’s even a bias against assistive walking devices, unbelievably found in the paper of record’s Jane Brody column of February 26, “A Few Steps to Minimize the Risk of Falling.” All the steps described are surely important, and we need to be reminded about eliminating whatever might trip us up. (Incidentally, my rule of thumb is to resist doing anything I wouldn’t want someone I love to do.)

But what needs all-out protest are Brody’s unbelievable concluding remarks, which almost made me fall right out of my chair: “Anywhere and anytime your stability is uncertain, use a walking stick (or two), a cane or a walker. Think you’ll be painfully embarrassed? Think how much more humiliating and painful it will be if you fall.”

W- h- a-a-at! And my protest letter was not seen fit to print. Surely, the first “falling risk” to combat is for the no-longer-young to think using a cane, or other assistive device is embarrassing! That’s not only ageist, but potentially dangerous. And why is it humiliating to fall? Isn’t that really blaming the victim?

As for the loneliness dilemma, too often elders are blamed for this lamentable condition because “they’re cranky or complain too much.” Too often the opposite is true, and men especially are reluctant to share personal problems like loneliness. And that’s another much-needed column or volume also concerned with why so few men attend public forums like these.

Here’s hoping the Graying of Manhattan will really address all the above, and above all, stress the need for intergenerational understanding and support. It takes a village — it takes a village.

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