As a history buff, I have always been fascinated by the elderly. Imagine, if you can, what it’s like to live through World War II, the Civil Rights Movement, color television, the first man to walk on the moon, the Beatles’ invasion, the first PC, Google, Facebook and the first black president.
In particular, I have always been captivated by my grandmother who at 84 has seen it all. Momma, as we affectionately call her, played a central role in my discovery of history, music, art, reading and writing, cooking and more. I remember as a child sitting under my grandmother and great-grandmother soaking up every word. Their collective wisdom and stories of survival were mesmerizing.
That’s why I was pleased to hear that the 90-and-over population in the United States nearly tripled from 0.7 million in 1980 to 1.9 million in 2010. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s report 90+ in the United States: 2006-2008, our nation’s elderly population is projected to quadruple during the next four decades.
“Traditionally, the cutoff age for what is considered the ‘oldest old’ has been age 85,” one of the authors of the report, Census Bureau demographer Wan He told reporters.”
The report –released last week— also provides an overview of why people are living longer, which includes more available medical care and improved nutrition. But I am a firm believer that it’s also the bonds that tie them to this life.
For my grandmother, I believe it’s the moments that we share during my weekly visits. For her, there are still so many stories to share and so much advice to offer.