By Chet Yarbrough
Old Age (A Beginner’s Guide)
By: Michael Kinsley
Narrated by: Danny Campbell
Michael Kinsley is an American political journalist and commentator. One may remember Kinsley on television a few years ago as a clever political commentator who figuratively fenced with conservatives like Pat Buchanan and William Buckley. He seemed a contrast to conservatives even while co-hosting with Buchanan on CNN and acting as moderator on “William Buckley’s Firing Line”. Kinsley exhibited a sly sense of humor. “Old Age” is a short book that exhibits that same slyness.
Kinsley notes he is 65 years old as he writes “Old Age”. He reveals his trials with Parkinson’s disease as an introduction to what it means to be nearing the end of one’s life. Though he has a less aggressive form of Parkinson’s, he notes his trembling hands and slow movement are more pronounced than when first diagnosed when he was 43 years old.
Parkinson’s Disease Symptoms
Kinsley explains the medical treatment he has received to mitigate symptoms. He writes about brain surgery and the medicine he takes and how both have helped him cope with the disease. Kinsley recounts the effect the pills have in improving how he feels for a few hours while having to take more pills when their effect wears off. Though this is Kinsley’s explanation of his personal experience, it is not the primary message of his book. His goal is to explain to baby boomers like himself about the end game of life.
As most know, Michael J. Fox has dealt with Parkinson’s disease since he was diagnosed at the age of 29.
Boomers who are nearer the end than the middle or beginning of life understand Kinsley’s reason for writing “Old Age”. Kinsley notes the greatest change in a healthy boomer’s ageing is the loss of driving privileges. City dwellers might take exception to that observation, but his point is that losing one’s license is a loss of individual freedom.
Kinsley is preparing “baby boomers” for their future.
Kinsley suggests most boomers will realize there is no next step for their career. That may be true for boomers working for someone but less true for those in business for themselves. Nevertheless, loss of employment is a blow to many boomers who feel they have lost purpose in life when there is no next step for their career.
Kinsley argues most boomers who have mid-life success, as measured by material gain, were “losers” in high school. Interesting thought but listener/readers might want some statistical proof.
What is high school success? Is it popularity, (being class-president)? Is it being a sports star? Is it top grades? Is it just getting a basic education? It seems the last two are reliable indicators of future success. Being a sports’ star or being popular is like threading a needle while walking on a waterbed because it is difficult to transfer high school sport’s skill and popularity to the wide world.
The greatest concern a boomer may have as one ages is the potential for dementia.
An area where one may agree with Kinsley’s observation is fear of the loss of cognitive skill. Mental decline manifests in communication difficulties, getting lost in familiar places, having difficulty balancing a checkbook, knowing what day it is, or losing the desire to learn new things.
What every ageing person wishes is–to live for as long as they have their “marbles”. Once cognitive abilities cross over a threshold of self-knowledge, humans are burdens to society.
Kinsley implies wealth is wasted on the aged who have lost self-awareness. Kinsley argues reputation is important. That seems false to the person who is dead but has relevance to those left behind. Humans are living longer but, as Kinsley notes, longevity is not the issue. It is quality of life and reputation that matter.
There may be a brief period of assisted living when one cannot take care of themselves, but hospice and in some cases euthanasia, seem more humane for one who reaches their final stage of life.
The final chapter of Kinsley’s book seems to fall off the rail of reason. Kinsley argues the wealth of modern America is largely inherited (not made) by the boomer generation and it should be confiscated to eliminate the national debt.
This may have been a “tongue in cheek” suggestion but the idea of beggaring the boomer generation to eliminate national debt ignores the reality of homelessness, support of nations like Ukraine under siege, and the plague of inequality and discrimination in America. It also ignores baby boomers who have truly earned rather than inherited their wealth. In the end, Kinsley gives listeners a laugh while addressing a very difficult time of life, “Old Age”.
2 thoughts on “END OF LIFE”
My husband has Parkinson’s disease, he is about 63 years old it was diagnosed 2 years ago. It was getting more difficult to live for him, because of stiff muscles he couldn’t even move. Mirapex and levodopa medicines were given, but didn’t give much relief. He couldn’t eat food without choking. I thought this might be the last stage and the medications he was given did not help at all, so I started to do alot of research on Ayurveda treatments, I was introduced to Health Natural Centre and their Parkinson’s Ayurveda Protocol. He started on the Ayurveda Treatment last year, his symptoms gradually diminished including his vocal cord spasm, Muscle Weakness, Tremors and Difficulty with swallowing. Reach them at natural herbs centre . com , he is getting active again since starting this treatment, he is able to walk again ( down the st reet and back ) he has also resumed exercising to strengthen muscles!! God Bless all PD Caregivers. Stay Strong, take small moments throughout the day to thank yourself, to love your self, and pray to whatever faith, star, spiritual force you believe in and ask for strength. I can personally vouch for these remedy but you would probably need to decide what works best for you.