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New Book: Will You Still Love Me When I’m 94?


Life has changed for those in their older age since the Beatles crooned their song "When I'm Sixty Four" in the 1960s. Did You Just Call Me Old Lady? looks at the changing landscape.
bookcover - did you just call me old lady?
Author 90-year-old Lillian Zimmerman is a mother and grandmother. She became a single mother in the 1960s, when her husband, a Canadian army veteran died at the age of 41. Until her retirement, Zimmerman was a research associate at the Gerontology Research Centre at Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Canada.

Above all, Did You Just Call Me Old Lady? is a summons to recognize old people as contributors, not burdens. With warmth and wisdom, Zimmerman challenges the ageist assumptions and stereotypes rampant in society.

The slender volume is organized into nine chapters, each upbeat, well-researched and filled with examples.

In the fourth chapter, she examines Canadian medicare, debunking the idea an aging population will break the health system's bank. Zimmerman provides a plethora of research to illustrate her point.

The fifth chapter details the immense contribution older Canadians make to society through volunteering, charitable donations and caregiving. Research estimates informal caregivers, age 45 and older, provide approximately $25 billion of care yearly to older adults living in the community.

In the sixth chapter, Zimmerman looks at the changing face of work and retirement. To start, retirement has fading appeal for an increasing number of working-age Canadians. According to Statistics Canada, the participation rate for those 65 and older more than doubled – from six per cent in 1996 to 14 per cent in 2016. The author discusses specific elements, that can diminish, sustain or enhance older adults' work experiences.

In a concluding chapter, Zimmerman shares some of the things she loves about being old.

Among them:

  • a greater sense of self-confidence
  • better ability to make decisions
  • no pressure to compete, and
  • strong friendships with older women friends and her grown grandchildren.

On the downside, she has experienced some memory loss. She finds getting a good night's sleep is more difficult. And she mourns the loss of family and friends to death.

Perhaps only when we know our time is limited do we properly treasure it. The author likens this realization to being in love: "everything seems more vivid and intense."

This is a invaluable read, offering a far-ranging look at what one 90-year-old has learned with age. Older adults will find it uplifting and informative. Did you Just Call Me Old Lady? is a must read for policy makers and for those who work with old people.