A year after her daughter gave birth, Paula began writing about grandparenting for the Times. Her column, Generation Grandparent, appears four to six times a year. It has explored topics from digital grandparenting to the increasing numbers of grandparents per child and grandparents’ influx into delivery rooms.
Since 2009, Paula has written the New Old Age, a column about aging and caregiving that appears twice monthly, online and in the print Science Times. It draws on research findings from major journals, interviews with expert sources and the experiences of elders themselves. The New Old Age has explored an array of topics pertinent to older adults: ageism, senior living options, health issues from alcohol abuse to vaccination, overdiagnosis and overtreatment, employment discrimination, the effects of COVID-19, end of life issues.
Mary Ann Boor could see her husband’s Alzheimer’s disease progressing, and her responsibilities as his caregiver intensifying.
For years, David Boor had carefully taken diabetes medications. But as he grew forgetful, Ms. Boor had to start monitoring the doses and timing. She took over the driving and then the finances; she had to begin helping him bathe and dress.
The Boors, retired high school teachers who moved to a lakefront retirement home in Huron, Ohio, were managing on their own. “Then, about the time I thought maybe I should look into home health aides, the pandemic struck and I was leery of people coming into the house,” Ms. Boor, 71, recalled.
In April, as the coronavirus was rampaging through the Northeast, Larry Churchill considered what he would do if the pandemic caused medical shortages. Should he, a 75-year-old, direct care to younger people before him if he got sick?
He was in a good position to raise the question. A bioethicist retired from Vanderbilt University, he published an essay on the Hastings Center’s bioethics forum saying that he intended to avoid hospitals if they became overwhelmed and forgo a ventilator if equipment grew scarce. When a vaccine became available, he would move to the end of the line.
Fortunately, Dr. Churchill has not had to face such decisions. He remains healthy, writing and teaching, and hiking in the Blue Ridge Mountains. And enough ventilators were produced to meet demand.
3:45 AM: Amal “Molly” Kaydouh gets up in the dark. Padding around her North Arlington apartment on this Tuesday morning, she reaches for one of her five identical red shirts appliqued with the Nevada Diner’s logo, along with a black apron, leggings and, crucially, non-skid shoes. She brightens the ensemble with sparkly earrings and painstakingly applies makeup, because appearance counts.
Driving to the diner in Bloomfield, she stops at a Dunkin’ Donuts for an espresso and smokes a single Salem menthol in her car. By 6 am she’s on the job, cleaning every surface in the back room—tables, booths, saltshakers. She makes pots of coffee and restocks bins of ketchup packets and plastic Cream-O-Land containers.
And then she waits.
The exercise studio I’ve patronized for 30 years had to shut down, of course. So I switched to 40-minute walks through my suburban neighborhood and around the perimeter of the nearby park, since the park itself was also now off-limits.
That would provide the necessary cardiovascular workout, but what about keeping my core firm, my finicky back unclenched, my flexibility intact? I unrolled a yoga mat on the bedroom floor and added a daily 20-minute hodgepodge of crunches, knee bends, asanas, balance poses and, um, improvisations.