You matter

Anonymous, Age 41

I just came across your blog. I just want you to know that you matter and I think what your doing is awesome!

Remember, you matter. =)

Posted in Stories | 1 Comment

Summing up a life

Nancy,  Age 81
I just found your blog accidentally, and am delighted! Just read a story, and feel as if I am with good friends, even though you all are somewhat younger than I….as I am 81. But am in decent health, actually biked 18 (flat) miles the other day, and go to a trainer once a week. Music is my delight, and this afternoon I played quartets (viola da gamba….a Renaissance cello-like instrument) with old friends for the afternoon. Lucky me!

My husband is at a basketball game right now, and we go to U of A games during the season. He’s a sports nut. Married 58 years… 1958 actually. Both from a little town on Long Island, met in 7th grade. But it hasn’t been all bliss….whose life has? But we soldiered onward, despite many years leading quite independent lives. We still do, but have come to terms with our differences and have come to depend on each other as time goes on, giving thanks for decent health and a love of books, movies and talking with each other early in the morning. We both like to think about things.

So much in life is luck, I think. You don’t realize you are balancing on a tightrope: you think you’re safe and on flat ground, until something upends you. We lost a baby many years ago,and soon after our marriage both fathers died suddenly. The suddenness was what still surprises me. I was so absolutely (fill in the blank): innocent, stupid, unthinking. I had no idea when I heard the phrase: “the inherent sadness of life”, that death and death of loved ones looms. Oh, so that’s the secret! That’s what it’s all about? I still have trouble realizing that I am one step away….for example (if my bike tips over, or I fall,) from a walker. Don’t be so cocky, I say to myself. Just enjoy your present good fortune and give thanks.

What makes me very happy though is connections to others… kids, grandkids, friends. I’m an only child, spoiled rotten by two devoted parents. So lucky, but also very ill equipped to handle obstacles in life… house cleaning!
Doesn’t that seem crazy? I never had to do “chores”, growing up. I sent my soiled clothes from college home to have them washed, pressed and returned! (That was really before washing machines were available at college, I do believe though.) Fortunately, I have learned a little, I like to make things pretty and that way I seem to force myself to do unpleasant tasks, with the “pretty” in mind.

I did accidentally get a neat job….as a radio announcer for a classical music station……and became, in a small way, sort of famous (briefly) with picture on billboards etc. It was good for my ego, which needed some help at that time in my life, and brought me into a community of supportive music lovers. My Mother was dying (again, I didn’t realize the end was coming… that stupid, or what?) and I was arranging round the clock nurses, thinking she would recover. The job helped with the pain, but I feel guilt that I kept the job as this all was happening. But I was so so stupid. I still don’t understand why I didn’t realize my Mother’s death wasn’t far away. If I could relive that time of my life, I’d give anything to do it, and better.

Yes, if had my life to live over again, knowing things I now know, I would do many things differently. But even with my mistakes, it seems to have turned out pretty amazingly. I find I am always for the underdog, am a political junkie, want to change the world so that there aren’t so many wealthy people, and many more helped. A different and more equitable tax code for starters. My husband volunteers for Mobile Meals and his “clients” are so often isolated, impoverished and helpless to change their lives. I wish our society somehow could embrace and help these people better than it’s set up to do right now and try to do small things to effect that change.

Thanks for giving me a chance to think about the summing up of my life.

Posted in 70 from other perspectives: looking forward and looking back, 70candles, Caretaking, Family matters, Grandparenting, Gratitude and Spirituality, Older women connecting, Resilience, Share your story, What do we do with our time? | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Seeking connections

Susan,  Age 69
I would just like to connect with someone who was born that long ago. Sometimes I feel I am a bit too outrageous for my age, i dont conform to what people expect, but my boys love me for that. I have always been true to myself but that has landed me in trouble. I just want to know what women of my generation think. I think we are amazing. I am a Kiwi, but it doesnt matter where you come from, I just love our generation, and all that we have experienced, travelling the world in my younger days and older days. Just want to find a place that I can be myself.

Posted in 70candles, About turning 70, Networking, Older women connecting, Traveling | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Watch the video about Old Myths that Confront Aging and Ageism

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

Flying solo

Joy,  Age 70
I’m about to turn 70 in approximately five hours. I’ve been sitting here at the computer, drinking white wine, crying for my sister – a young 74 – who passed in June 2015. I can’t believe that I’m turning 70 without her presence, her support, her beautiful, radiant, magnificent self. I’m still in shock. How can this be happening? She hadn’t been sick. She was so vital, right up to the end. The circumstances of her death are shrouded in mystery. I’m still devastated. I’ll never get over losing her.

So here I am, searching and searching for a way to turn 70 alone. My two daughters aren’t far away, but they can’t possibly understand. My history, my life, are nowhere now but within me. My friends are nearby but too far removed. My husband, an ex for over seventeen years now, wouldn’t have even tried.

I’m flying solo.

Posted in 70candles, About turning 70, Family matters | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Good thoughts for the new year-live well


Written by Regina Brett, 90 years old, of the Plain Dealer, Cleveland , Ohio .

“To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 42 lessons life taught me. It is the most requested column I’ve ever written.

My odometer rolled over to 90 in August, so here is the column once more:

1. Life isn’t fair, but it’s still good.

2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.

3. Life is too short – enjoy it..

4. Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and family will.

5. Pay off your credit cards every month.

6. You don’t have to win every argument. Stay true to yourself.

7. Cry with someone. It’s more healing than crying alone.

8. Save for retirement starting with your first pay check.

9. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.

10. Make peace with your past so it won’t screw up the present.

11. It’s OK to let your children see you cry.

12. Don’t compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

13. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn’t be in it…

14 Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.

15. Get rid of anything that isn’t useful. Clutter weighs you down in many ways.

16. Whatever doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger.

17. It’s never too late to be happy. But it’s all up to you and no one else.

18. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don’t take no for an answer.

19. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don’t save it for a special occasion. Today is special.

20. Over prepare, then go with the flow.

21. Be eccentric now. Don’t wait for old age to wear purple.

22. The most important sex organ is the brain.

23. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.

24. Frame every so-called disaster with these words ‘In five years, will this matter?’

25. Always choose life.

26. Forgive but don’t forget.

27. What other people think of you is none of your business.

28. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.

29. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.

30. Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does..

31. Believe in miracles.

32. Don’t audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.

33. Growing old beats the alternative — dying young.

34. Your children get only one childhood.

35. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.

36. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.

37. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d grab ours back.

38. Envy is a waste of time. Accept what you already have not what you need.

39. The best is yet to come…

40. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.

41. Yield.

42. Life isn’t tied with a bow, but it’s still a gift.”


Posted in 70candles, Goals ahead, Resilience | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

A baby boomer’s guide


Dixie, Almost 73

In the words of Dr.Seuss, “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”

January 5, 2017, I’ll celebrate my 73rd birthday. I’ve always been very up front with my age and more than a little surprised about it myself. Frankly, I’m surrounded by men and women, in my “active adult community of 55+,” who are celebrating life, friends and activities with gusto. That’s why we live here. The “community aspect” keeps us validated and accountable.

Believe me, we all have out share of “bumps” in life; strokes, diseases, joint replacements, personal tragedies, heart issues, loss of loved ones but the prevailing theme is to live life to the fullest and to age positively.

Having said that, Pam, my best friend of 40+ years, and I are writing a guide for those who are retired, contemplating retirement or are semi-retired, “A Baby Boomer’s Non-Financial Guide to Retirement…50 Tips for Freedom.”

Additionally, we ramped up our learning curve and started a blog,, to address some of the issues we’ve discovered that stand in the way of aging positively.

Books like your 70 Candles! and blogs like this one provide a valuable resource to the millions of retirees that will join us in the coming years. It’s been said that most people plan their two-week vacations better than they plan the non-financial part of retirement. Your book and your blog have served as a catalyst for our current endeavors. Keep up the great work!

Posted in 70candles, Goals ahead, Looking ahead, Our bodies, our health, Resilience, What do we do with our time?, Where to live, Work life and retirement | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Where shall we live next?

‘Where to live next’ is a concern we hear often in our 70Candles! Gatherings.  Here’s what we posted on Huff/Post50, addressing that important topic.

Sooner or later, the family house becomes too big, too expensive to maintain, and its stairs become a challenge. Women, especially if they are on their own, have to determine the right time to move and where to live next — whether to live alone, join a community of age-mates, or move in with children or other relatives or settle near them. There are considerations about old friends and familiar places that may be left behind. In our 70Candles conversation groups and at 70Candles, we’ve seen that the important question of living arrangements weighs on the minds of women as they get older.

Here are some of the many choices now available.


Studies suggest that as many as 90 percent of Americans 65 or older prefer to stay in their own homes indefinitely. They feel comfortable in familiar surroundings, they know their neighbors, they treasure friendships and neighborhood ties that have endured for decades.


Many retirees are drawn back to cities where public transportation, walkability, and abundant services are offered. In New York and Philadelphia, women in 70Candles conversation groups described selling the home where they raised their families, and moving back to “the city.” In response to the unprecedented increases in their aging populations, many American cities have started to make senior-friendly changes to their urban landscape.


Some families prepare well ahead for incorporating a grandma into their homes. Some build a “mother-in-law apartment” onto the house, retrofit a garage, or have a separate floor allocated for a grandparent’s residence. When this works well, grandparents can have the pleasures of being near grandchildren as they grow, the children can profit from knowing their grandparents more intimately, and their parents can be available if the elder needs assistance.


Women on their own are experimenting with home sharing in cities across the country. Several women purchase a large home together, work out legal, financial, and social sharing protocols to form a small community, while reducing their individual living expenses. There is even an on-line matching service for women — Roommates4Boomers — that analyzes participants’ questionnaires to suggest compatible living companions.

RETIREMENT COMMUNITIES — Various types exist around the country


Co-housing is a model for adults 50 or older, brought to the States from Denmark by architects McCamant and Durrett. It is a collaborative venture wherein the residents participate in designing and operating their own neighborhoods. The co-housing model harkens back to communes of the 60’s, with the focus on both individuality and interdependence.

Independent Living

Across the country, “independent living” or “senior living” facilities might appear as multi-story apartment buildings, as sprawling condominiums, or as homes on golf courses. Whether singular structures or entire villages, these planned communities offer an array of amenities, activities, and services for a newer, more energetic senior generation.

Other Independent living arrangements, where activities are not typically provided, are referred to as senior housing, senior homes, or senior apartments. In a wide range of settings from basic apartment houses to upscale resort-like accommodations, seniors can live as independently as possible, within a community of peers, knowing that if support services are not available, they can acquire them on their own, when and if they are needed.

Assisted Living

For those who need assistance with daily care, Assisted Living apartments and, more recently, small Assisted Living boarding homes may be the right fit. Here, nurse aids or technicians can offer help with activities of daily living, including meals, dressing, toileting, and medication. Transportation is available for group outings and recreational purposes. Many assisted living facilities are embedded in Continuing Care Communities where step-down or step-up possibilities exist as health conditions dictate.

Long-Term Care

Even the once-dreaded nursing home is undergoing evolutionary changes. The Eden Alternative, conceived of by geriatrician Dr. William Thomas to ward off the suffering he saw caused by loneliness, helplessness, and boredom, incorporates nature, animals, children, and increased human interactions, into the traditional nursing home setting.

His newer model, The Green House Project, advances the comfort and humanizes the experience further. It proposes “small intentional communities for groups of elders and staff, to focus on living full and vibrant lives.” There are no standard schedules to follow, and no more than 12 “elders” live in each home. Each has a private room with bath near a commons area that includes a kitchen, living room, and large communal dining table.

These choices depend on the health, financial means, and lifestyle choices of both the aging person and her or his family.

Where do you picture yourself living as you age?
Do any of these choices see appealing?
Do you have another vision?
We’d love to hear your views.

Excerpted from the book 70Candles! Women Thriving in Their 8th Decade by Jane Giddan and Ellen Cole.


Posted in 70candles, Looking ahead, Resilience, Where to live | Tagged , , , , | 4 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,
70Candles! Gatherings-A Leader’s Guide by Jane Giddan and Ellen Cole is at


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 , , | 2 Comments