May 2, 2011

USA: Reversing the negative connotations of aging

WALTHAM, Massachusetts / The Boston Globe / May 2, 2011

By Cindy Cantrell, Globe Correspondent

Cultural critic Margaret Morganroth Gullette of Newton has devoted two books, ‘‘Aged by Culture’’ and ‘‘Declining to Decline,’’ to the importance of reversing the negative connotations of aging in modern society.

In her new book, ‘‘Agewise: Fighting the New Ageism in America,’’ she examines the sources of discrimination and misconceptions through which aging is equated with decline in the national psyche.

Gullette, a resident scholar of the Women’s Studies Research Center at Brandeis University, criticizes the blind acceptance of hormone therapy, cosmetic plastic surgery, and society’s tendency to focus on what is lost to dementia rather than the remaining qualities that define an individual.

She believes it is this ‘‘terror’’ of memory loss that triggers an increasing number of people to view aging as worse than dying.

© 2011 NY Times Co