Hearing The Elderly
By Paula Span
Karl Pillemer, the Cornell University gerontologist, has published noteworthy research on a range of subjects related to aging: family dynamics, nursing home interactions between staff and family members, elder abuse, long-term care.
More recently, Dr. Pillemer has taken a different tack. Instead of the usual carefully randomized study comparing outcomes after controlling for characteristics X and Y, he and his colleagues have been interviewing people over age 70 — “experts,” he calls them — to ask what lessons they have learned in their many decades and what they would like to tell younger people about aging.
He has been at it for five years now, and one result is the book, “30 Lessons for Living: Tried and True Advice from the Wisest Americans.” Another is an accompanying Web site, The Legacy Project.
The advantage of the Web site is that video interviews allow users to meet the “experts,” hear their laughter and listen to their counsel (sometimes easier when they’re someone else’s parents) about marriage and family, work, health, faith, life in general. You can see why Dr. Pillemer has been captivated.
Paula Span is the author of “When the Time Comes: Families With Aging Parents Share Their Struggles and Solutions.”
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