Flourishing in the Eighth Decade!

Women everywhere, welcome to our blogspot, a space for sharing experiences, thoughts, and ideas about how to overcome obstacles and thrive as we approach and endure in the eighth decade of life. We hope this exchange will be a source of inspiration for the next generation of seventy year olds. Those baby boomers are hot on our heels, and want to know more about what lies ahead. Nobody gave us a guidebook or shared what this path might be like. As we burn those seventy candles, we can help shed some light on the trail for them.

What has this transition been like for you? Serious, funny, commonplace, unusual, short, long stories, all are welcome. How does it feel to be among the oldest in the crowd? What does it take to thrive in this decade? How do you think others see you? What contributes to well-being and yes, flourishing at three score and ten?

We welcome the comments and reflections of women everywhere. All cultures, ethnicities, socioeconomic status and backgrounds; as diverse a sample as we can reach.

Please contribute brief anecdotes, observations, thoughts, ideas, and life stories by posting them in the comment section below.

Alternatively, you could email longer stories to us at 70candles@gmail.com. Please include information about your age, ethnicity/cultural background, geographic location, education, and work status. We will organize, collate, and share your emailed stories anonymously on this blogspot. Ultimately this may become a book about how our generation flourishes. Spread the word!! 

Posted in 70candles | 21 Comments

Old Myths: Confronting Aging and Ageism at the Brooklyn Historical Society

The Brooklyn Historical Society hosted a panel discussion on November 29, 2016 on Aging and Ageism, bringing together a distinguished panel that included Ashton Applewhite, author of the book, This Chair Rocks, John Leland of the New York Times, Dr. Veronica LoFaso, Director of Geriatric Medical Education at New York – Presbyterian Hospital/Weil Cornell Medical Center, and our own Dr. Ellen Cole, co-creator of 70Candles! Paula Span of the New York Times was the moderator.
Although it was a very rainy New York evening, the enthusiastic cross-generational audience filled the auditorium. At question time, many hands were raised. There was an excitement in the air—perhaps signifying the realization that by 2020, 35 percent of the population will be age 50 or older. Or that the first of the baby boomers turn 70 this year, and they are a force to be reckoned with.
Ellen, the oldest panel member at age 75, shared several of her personal experiences with ageism. In a recent medical visit for strep throat, for example, the intake nurse assumed she was retired. “Absolutely not,” she replied, for she continues to work full-time as a psychology professor, feels at the top of her game, and, at least right now, hasn’t the slightest interest in cutting back. And the fact is that nearly 20 percent of Americans 65 and older are now working, according to the latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. For 75-year-olds, labor-force participation has risen from 9% in 2000 to 14% today. Part of this increase is likely due to financial concerns, but certainly part to what has been called “the increased propensity to work.”
Other examples were given, in particular, of microaggressions of ageism—things people say and do, often with no intent to be disrespectful, that imply a bias against older people and can cause distress and hurt. Panelists agreed, for example, that “adorable,” “cute,” and “sweetheart,” are not terms of respect and may be condescending and infantilizing when used to describe older adults. A prime time for unwitting insults, they agreed, is at birthdays. It is not a compliment to describe an older person as “80 years young,” or to say, often enthusiastically, “Wow, you don’t look that old,” or “Did you just turn 39 (wink, wink)?” Ellen recalled, for example, hearing on the radio that Florence Henderson, the “upbeat Mom of ‘The Brady Bunch,’ died on Nov. 25, 2016 dies at 82 years young.”
One panel member opposed the idea of publications, for example newspaper stories, mentioning the age of authors. Ellen and others felt otherwise. They believe there is no reason not to be proud of being whatever age you are. What better way to dispel myths surrounding old than to be open rather than secretive or coy about the number of years one has lived. An audience member said she did not want prospective employers to know her age, fearing she wouldn’t be hired (in spite of anti-discrimination law). The panel agreed this is a reality, but until old people speak up about their age, this prejudice is unlikely to change. Ellen advised, “Old people, come out of the closet.”
There was a lively conversation about current trends for later-age living arrangements, including aging-in-place, a variety of innovative multigenerational living situations (e.g., college students being offered free room and board in an assisted living community), and so on. One panelist made the compelling point that it is often younger people devising what they think would be best for the elders. To him that seemed backwards. First ask the elders what they want! The panel agreed there is no cookie-cutter answer to what works best for everyone.
Other discussion topics included end-of-life issues including the current national debate about medical aid in dying, caregiving, and elder abuse. The conversation ended after an hour and a half, as advertised, but all agreed there was much, much more to say. Ellen’s take-home message from this panel was this: “The Brooklyn Historical Society organized an exceptionally important and successful event. Let’s not stop here.”

70Candles! Women Thriving in Their 8th Decade by Jane Giddan and Ellen Cole is available from Taos Institute Publications, taosinstitue.net/70Candles.
70Candles! Gatherings-A Leader’s Guide by Jane Giddan and Ellen Cole is at Amazon.com.


Posted in 70candles, Ageism anecdotes, Read Stories | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

News flash!

Ellen Cole of 70Candles! will be speaking at the Brooklyn Historical Society’s distinguished panel on aging.

If you’re in the area, come on over!

Old Myths: Confronting Aging and Ageism
Tue, Nov 29, 6:30 pm
$10/$5 for BHS and G-W Members

With Baby Boomers aging, a new generation is confronted with the misconceptions older people face. Join Ashton Applewhite of This Chair Rocks, Ellen Cole, co-creator of 70 Candles, John Leland of The New York Times, and Dr. Veronica LoFaso, Director of Geriatric Medical Education at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, for a discussion about positive aging. Paula Span, “New Old Age” columnist for The New York Times, moderates.







Posted in 70candles, Ageism anecdotes, Looking ahead | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Hip replacement for my 94-year-old dad

Regine,  Age 68

I posted some time ago about aging, and mentioned my blog serimuse.blogspot.ca. I’ve posted a recent experience there for November about going through my 94 year old father’s hip replacement surgery. I thought I’d share this because many of us still have aging parents living and even as we age and go through our personal difficulties, we also have parents to take care of. It can be very emotionally draining. And it’s important to find ways to share our experiences, and also to take care of ourselves. So now that my dad is back in long term care, I’m working on my book again, reading, going for walks,

Posted in 70candles, Caretaking, Family matters, Men aging, Our bodies, our health, Stories | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

sad 70

Anonymous,  Age 70

don’t. know why I’m. here
sad money depressed
not enough money to live on. nice looking for age so common.  I look damned good body and all. redhead and still hot.

Posted in 70candles, About turning 70, Our bodies, our health | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Post election blues

We’ve just endured a political season that stirred up anger and hatred in this nation that might not subside for quite some time.

As we try to recover our equilibrium, it helps to recognize what we gained…especially as women.

Although she didn’t make it to the presidency, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote and demonstrated to us and to our children and grandchildren that yes, a women might well lead this country one day. On the threshold of her 8th decade, Hillary Clinton had the will, the knowledge, and the talent, and felt ready to take on the enormous job of President of the United States of America.

Our daughters and granddaughters can know that anything is possible for women in the years ahead — gender and age no longer barriers to success.


Posted in 70candles, Looking ahead | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments

Our Leader’s Guide now available!

We’re happy to report that in answer to your requests, we have created a new booklet, 70Candles! Gatherings–A Leader’s Guide. It is now available in print at Amazon.com.

We designed it as an aid for those ready to start a 70Candles! discussion group in their geographic area. The Guide contains tips for organizing a gathering of women, and material for conducting an interesting, interactive, 1 1/2 hour group conversation about the joys and challenges of being this age, in this era of extended longevity.

We hope you’ll let us know what you think of it.

Jane and Ellen

Posted in 70candles, 70Candles! Gatherings, Networking, What do we do with our time? | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Moving to Venice

Gloria, Soon to be 74

Last year, at age 73, I moved alone to Venice, Florida. Due to an unexpected divorce and a previous down payment on a new home in Florida, I found myself in a new town with one friend, who is 83. I had wintered in Venice with my then husband for several years, and wanted to continue to spend part of the year

Now I am living in Venice full-time.
I left behind in Ohio my two daughters and two granddaughters, plus their husbands.

As I began to settle in, I joined a church and the church choir, I joined the local art center and began taking a water color class, I joined a water aerobics class and a book club. These were all activities I had enjoyed in Ohio. Of course, there I had long time friends with me. Here, I struggle to retain the names of my new friends.

Fortunately, my neighbors are also new to their homes as the area is just being built. I have found them very friendly, helpful when I need an extra hand and fun to be with. We are a multi age community, but my near neighbors are mainly late 50s and up. We have many social events and I join in fully, though most are couples.

The weather has been a boon to my arthritis, and I have no joint pain here. My new friendships, the weather, time to read and paint at my leisure are plusses. Face timing my granddaughters frequently, having calls and visits from friends and relatives has eased the loneliness. But I believe my own desire to be happy, to dwell on the sunshine and the beach, and to stay healthy have been my strongest support. I have two chronic diseases, but have found good physicians and my health has improved since moving.

Challenges exist, but my faith sustains me, and the fact that 2 active choir members are 91 encourages me.

Posted in 70candles, Family matters, Grandparenting, Networking, Resilience, What do we do with our time?, Where to live | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments


Esther, Age 69

I shall be 70 in a few months. I’ve read that i shall not be really old but instead “oldish!”

I am single, a retired high school teacher, have no immediate family but a fabulous group of close friends. My 70th birthday has been planned around these close friends. We shall be meeting at the Ritz Carlton in Sarasota, Florida where I have reserved marina view suites for us. We shall be spending an entire week in this gorgeous resort and beautiful city which offers us renowned beaches, culture and of course the circus. I have bought stunning outfits for this birthday. Am excited to be able to share this special birthday with close friends in this great style. I’ve been told that I am too young to be old!

Posted in 70 from other perspectives: looking forward and looking back, 70candles, About turning 70, Networking | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Trying to stay busy – seeking ideas

Anita, Age 70

I turn 70 on Oct. 9th. I have been retired for 4 years and am trying to stay busy and alert. I have been able to travel a couple of times outside of the US with a college class of nurses. I am not a nurse but they let other go on these trips. I have enjoyed this very much but am not able to go every year because of finances.

I live in a small town in Texas and try to stay busy but I find it difficult sometime to get new ideas for activities. I am also a single female. I go to the symphony in Lubbock.

My mother lived to be 92 but suffered from back problems, macular degeneration and later in life dementia. I hope to avoid these as long as possible.

Posted in 70candles, About turning 70, Finances, Looking ahead, Traveling, What do we do with our time? | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments


Mae Buesking, Age 74

I like to think of being in the 70’s as being in the “youth” of my old age!

Posted in 70candles, About turning 70, Poetry | Tagged , , | 1 Comment