Don't look now, but someone's having a birthday this year. Well, yes, all of us are, of course. But this particular someone is getting an...
Don’t look now, but someone’s having a birthday this year.
Well, yes, all of us are, of course. But this particular someone is getting an inordinate amount of attention — the cover of Newsweek, front-page newspaper features across the country — as though nobody had ever had a birthday before.
So what do Bill Clinton, George and Laura Bush, Cher, Donald Trump and Danny Glover all have in common? You got it — they’re members of the first wave of the 77 million baby boomers to reach their 60th birthday this year. If I could sing, I’d hum “Happy Birthday.” But heck, I beat them by a year.
Come 2007, Dave Barry, Hillary Rodham Clinton, David Letterman and Stephen King will meet the same fate.
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We heard endlessly about the boomers in their youth. Get ready: We’re going to hear endlessly about them as they age. If you were born between 1946 and 1964, you’re one of them — the largest generation in American history, nearly a quarter of the population, once smooth-skinned infants, now growing wrinkled and, well, no longer young.
It never seemed possible. Arriving in this world just as World War II ended, the boomers were the apple of everybody’s eye for decades. Their dominating size created a society obsessed with youth. Who wouldn’t drink Coke, wear pantyhose, attend a rap session, see a shrink and inhale if it weren’t very groovy?
But like all things, it couldn’t last. And now comes a refreshingly intelligent series on KCTS-TV that takes up where the boomers’ youth leaves off. Called “Boomers! Redefining Life After Fifty,” this 13-part series focuses on the issues, challenges and opportunities facing boomers as they contemplate their 50s, 60s, 70s and beyond.
Just as they redefined what it meant to be young, they’re now exploring innovative approaches to work, health, love, finance, friendship, learning, travel, retirement, housing and volunteerism in old age.
Hosted by a boomer couple, former NBC correspondent Nancy Fernandez Mills and her husband and broadcast financial journalist, Mark Mills, each magazine-style segment of 30 minutes has optimism, boomer trivia (quick: What year did Hula-Hoops first appear?), healthy-living tips, nostalgic scenes from the ’50s and ’60s, and interviews with real people — including a couple in Seattle — who are going in surprisingly new and interesting directions as they age.
“Boomers!” will air at 2 p.m. Sunday, beginning Jan. 15, on KCTS-TV.
Planning for the future
The good health that’s extended longevity for the boomers (and the rest of us) has had another unexpected consequence: For the first time in history, adults with developmental disabilities are outliving their moms and dads.
Having grown up protected beneath their parents’ wings, they now face difficult times when their parents die, yet fewer than half have workable plans for their futures.
At 9 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 19, KCTS-TV will air “The Ties that Bind,” an award-winning hourlong documentary that will take us into one family’s struggle to provide — in advance — for a disabled adult child’s life after the parents’ death.
Chris Jordan, age 28 and impaired with multiple disabilities, has longed to move out of his parents’ home for years, just as he watched his brother and sister do.
But before he can, he must overcome the deep dependency he has on his parents, as well as theirs on him, and create a long-term system of support so strong that it eventually will replace them.
Award-winning filmmaker John Ritchie takes a firsthand look at this family’s struggles to let go, when every instinct tells them to hang on.
Following the Jordan family for almost three years, Ritchie’s film is sometimes funny, sometimes raw, and powerfully demonstrates the wisdom, courage and resources that such a difficult task requires.
Following the documentary at 10 p.m. will be a half-hour KCTS special, “Beyond the Ties that Bind,” moderated by Enrique Cerna, host of the weekly current- affairs series “KCTS Connects.”
Pretaped before a studio audience, Cerna will be joined by Ritchie; Seattle parents Bill and Kathy Sellars and their daughter, Kari, who has Down syndrome; plus others as they talk about the issues raised in the film and the resources in our community that are available to help.
Liz Taylor’s column runs Mondays in the Northwest Life section. A specialist in aging and long-term care for 30 years, she’s worked with thousands of families and their elders. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org or write to P.O. Box 11601, Bainbridge Island, WA 98110. You can see all of her columns at www.seattletimes.com/growingolder/.