Older people are not a homogeneous group — something I’d never thought about until I started this project. In fact, writes Dr. Robert in The Longevity Revolution, “there is increasing variability among people as they grow older. Children are much more like one another than are ‘the elderly.’”
In case you need proof, consider some octogenarians in the headlines recently:
• 88-year-old James Von Brunn shot dead a security guard at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington.
• 82-year-old Joseph Strauch of Volusia County, Florida, beat his girlfriend unconscious because she’d loaded the dishwasher wrong.
• Former President George H. W. Bush jumped out of a plane over Maine to celebrate his 85th birthday. (On hubdom.com you can bet on whether Bush will do it again when he turns 90.)
• New York’s Gloria Vanderbilt, 85, published a steamily explicit erotic novel.
None of these behaviors are typical. Older people are less violent than other segments of American society, and no more racist. They don’t usually describe their sex lives in detail, and they’re definitely less inclined to skydive. That’s the point. Conversely, we shouldn’t infer from the sight of an older person walking with difficulty that being old means being lame. And as Bush tactfully opined upon landing, “Just because you’re an old guy, you don’t have to sit around drooling in the corner. Get out and do something.”