Review: What’s Age Got to Do with It? by Louise Morse
“We are compelled to accept that life has three stages—we are children, or adolescence, or adults. That’s it—no old age.” So writes Louise Morse in her attempt to show how our society tries to ignore the meaningful part of life, called old age.
She includes the statement by Dr. William Thomas, Harvard Medical School graduate: “Sales of anti-ageing products show a burning desire to avoid life’s next developmental challenge. But still it will come.”
In What’s Age Got to Do with It? Morse invites us to embrace old age and its significance and privileges. The photo below is depicted on her book cover.
File Size: 1195 KB
Print Edition: Paperback
Print Length: 192 pages
Publication Date: November 17, 2017
Publisher: Monarch Books
Genre: Religion and Spirituality
Louise Morse has a MA in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and has authored several other books including Dementia: Pathways to Hope and Worshipping with Dementia.
In What's Age Got to Do with It? Morse proposes that even though ageing comes toward the end of life, God intends for us to continue the process of developing, maturing and contributing our talents. She encourages the younger folk to recognize and respect elderhood (because their day is coming), and she counsels the elders to embrace it and maximize its significance. Following are synopses of the main concepts that readers will learn.
The Real Life Design
"There's no sense that adulthood is the peak of the design...Older people represent the pinnacle of the life cycle—a time of completion, of fruition, of learning, and of knowing God."
From the Old Testament records of how long individuals lived and the stories of long livers like Abraham, Jacob and Moses among others, it can be seen that God has keen interest in our lives, even to old age. This period after adulthood is not designed to be one of decline and senility. Despite physical frailty, it is the period which facilitates the strengthening and transformation of the “inner man.”
Morse subscribes to the view of Roger Hitchings (minister and experienced worker with older people) that there is a Biblical doctrine of ageing which explains our reason for being here. It spells out the instructions of how to progress from birth to age. It presents a ripe old age as one of the greatest blessings to bestowed upon mankind.
"To obtain it [elderhood] you have to be willing to outgrow adulthood. You have to eschew all the anti-ageing products and admit that your body is growing old.”
Generally, individuals after retirement age are called seniors. Morse considers elderhood to be the role of seniors. They have work to do. It could be in the area of their previous occupation, since they are still considered teachers, doctors, or whatever their titles were. Or, it could be in another area for which God designed them to perform the “good works” they have been dreaming about, which He planned for them to do.
His primary purpose for them is to share their experience, and proclaim His goodness to the next generation. They become encouragers, trainers, “watchmen on the wall” who speak out against wrongdoing, and participants in community building. Especially at this stage, they deserve support for their ministry from the church and respect for their position from everyone.
The Invisible Gorilla
"In September 2011 when, within 24 hours, animal activists evacuated dogs and cats ... disabled and older people were abandoned in their apartments for up to seven days."
Morse explains the psychological experiment which lends the gorilla image to ageism (a form of bigotry similar to racism and sexism). She warns that to older people clinging to adulthood, ageism becomes invisible even while it is making them invisible. She cites examples of ageism in the media, one being a newspaper drawing of younger people pushing older people in wheelchairs to the edge of a cliff. No caption was necessary.
Older people sometimes subject themselves to ageism by harboring negative thoughts about their abilities or their usefulness. Morse presents ways to defeat this invisible gorilla because she sees it as diametrically opposed to the elderhood which God designed.
The Turning Tide
"These Baby Boomers, powerful because of their numbers and their non-conformist attitude, will reinvent the concept of old age."
Marjorie 'Bo' Gilbert, First 100-Year Old to Model in Vogue UK
Morse tells many stories about older people who are living their lives to the fullest, some motivated by industries and organizations which recognize their value. The story of Marjorie “Bo” Gilbert who modeled for Vogue in 2016 at the age of 100 is just one of them. Morse also mentions politicians in their 70s, Hollywood films featuring actors in their 70s and 80s, centenarians on YouTube doing yoga and other incredible feats.
The number of elders increases daily. They contribute to the economy, provide childcare and other services which help the community thrive. Wise leaders are taking note, and instead of telling them to move over, are highlighting their exemplary discipline and diligence. Many of their stories are being published in major newspapers. Morse thinks that God intended for the elders to inspire young folks to keep learning, and to follow their example of good works all the way into elderhood.
Personal Opinion and Disclosure
Louise Morse is British and her stories and illustrations are mostly from the United Kingdom and other parts of Europe. It seems that the attitude toward ageing is similar everywhere because her conclusions are relatable.
She supports her information with research findings and quotes, and her repetition of quotes in different chapters is very helpful. She does not let the reader forget that her views are Christian, but her content is interesting and helpful to all readers regardless of religious orientation.
The book is easy to read, and beneficial to elders and all potential elders.
I received this book from the publisher through NetGalley (https://www.netgalley.com). There was no request for a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
© 2018 Dora Weithers