Why I Love Stories About Elderly People and You Should Too

Despite being a hardcore fan of high/urban fantasy, mystery/thriller, and horror, I really love reading the AARP magazines my parents get. I also adore psychology, and seeing the world from a different view point is really enlightening.

For example. If you ask my niece and nephew how old you have to be to be “old” they’d probably say it’s around 50 or so. For people like myself (young adults, 20s-3os), ask us when life stops being fun and most of us would say right around age 60. But no matter who you ask and what answer you get there’s an underlying fear there. That’s not when life stops being fun, that’s when life is over.

You’re old. You’re stuck in the house all the time, doing whatever people in the Silver Sneakers group do, and smiling in those horrible commercials that are just way too fake to be taken seriously and everyone gets secondhand embarrassment from you.

See? Growing old is freaking terrifying!

Or so I thought. When I took a psychology class that focused more on phases of life instead of all around psychology, I learned a lot. The psychology of the aging mind is fascinating. When I was caring for my grandmother with Alzheimer’s, I learned not only a lot about her, I learned a lot about how elderly people live. The same thing happened as I got to know my other grandmother as she aged. Eventually pretty much everything I thought I knew about elderly people was thrown out the window.

Your life doesn’t end when you hit a certain age. Yet media has kind of (ok so it has, there’s plenty of studies on it) brainwashed the way people, especially younger people, think about aging. Which is why I get insanely excited over writing that focuses on people 65+, going about everyday life and doing things like everyone else.

Murder, She Wrote is one of my all time favorite shows (trust me my parents are sick of my near constant marathons of it). Not only does it realistically touch on what it takes to write and publish a book and the challenges that authors so often face, it also shows a retired woman living a full and exciting life, with her friends. Many of them are in the same age bracket as her. The writers of the show created a clever, progressive, sassy, and loving woman and a varied cast of people. Jessica is never less than her young nephew or friends because of her age. She is never confined to just being the knowledge dispenser. She’s so many things to many people. The writers of the show did a fabulous job of giving us 12 seasons of a flawed and interesting woman, who’s age never holds her back from doing what she wants.

I’m currently reading the tome that is Stephen King’s Insomnia. I got it on a whim, because I was bored and wanted to read a book based on the title, and nothing else. I got hooked. I am hooked. The first time I tried reading this book I had health issues that got in the way. Yet it stuck with me. This second go around I’m even deeper in and blown away by how lovingly King writes the story of Ralph and his friends.

Ralph is a retired man, in his 70’s, mourning the loss of his wife. As he starts to get less and less sleep, the more observant he becomes. Unfortunately no one else can see what he can see but that doesn’t stop him from becoming a superhero of sorts.

Ok. Retired people being friends with each other, supporting each other through deaths and births and other life events, creating their own little place in the world and having strong opinions on things, and maybe starting to have superpowers? Sign me up.

When I was younger I used to ignore these kinds of stories but now, I go after them in a heartbeat! If there were more books out there about people in their upper years doing things, anything, I’d read them. Thanks to Murder, She Wrote and Insomnia, as well as my own personal experiences, I’ve realized that I’ve been missing a lot. Positive stories focused on older people are hard to find, but that makes them no less important. This is something I’ll be digging around for a lot more, and I encourage others to do the same.

Stories don’t end just because you hit a certain age, and books were made to tell stories of all kinds of people. There’s such life and adventure in stories about older (65+) people. I’m really into this now and want to get people hooked on this too.

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