On being Very, Very Old: An Insider's Perspective

Elaine M. Brody, MSW, DSc (Hon)


Gerontologist. 2010;50(1):2-10. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


When I began to think about my perspective as a very very old person, I found that I was writing both from my perspective as a gerontologist and from my perspective as an individual grown old. The reason for my dual perspective is that I was born in 1922, at a time when the aging population was growing rapidly, and I lived through several ensuing macroprocesses that would have major effects on older people and their families. I experienced those macroprocesses on a personal level as well through their effects on other individuals—relatives and friends—and later through the people I worked with and tried to help. So personal and professional recollections inevitably mingle in this article. Those recollections of the past, the present, and the future are interconnected. I will mention the processes that occurred. However, because the readers know them well, I will not elaborate on them. After I describe my past perspective, I will move to my present perspective: about my 85+ friends, their concerns, and the things they enjoy. My future perspective follows. I end with a brief look back at my life as a gerontologist to ask why gerontology was so intriguing an enterprise.