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Teaching Gerontology, September 2010
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Thursday, 21 Sep 2017

Teaching Gerontology, September 2010

In this issue:

- Urban Legends of Aging: “Retirement is Bad for You”
- Older Workers
- Are You Feeling Old Yet?
- AGHE Consultation
- Bad News on Alzheimer’s
- Web Sites to See


URBAN LEGENDS OF AGING: “Retirement is Bad for You”

I keep hearing that retirement is bad for your physical and mental health (e.g., loneliness, suicide, increased illness, etc.).
A lot of people believe this, but it isn’t true.

Data from the Health and Retirement Study repeatedly show than more than 90 percent of those retired report they are “very” or “moderately” happy.  Prof. David Ekerdt, writing in Encyclopedia of Aging and Health concludes:

“Epidemiological studies have shown reliably that occupational retirement does not generally raise the risk of mortality or decline in physical and mental health. In fact, there are suggestions that, if anything, retirement benefits health somewhat. Such studies are more conclusive when they follow continuing workers and new retirees over time while taking into account ill health as a reason for having retired in the first place…”

I am troubled by the persistence of the belief that people will be happier if they work longer. “Be happy in your work” as the Commandant of the prison camp said in “The Bridge on the River Kwai.”
Well, maybe not.

Some well-meaning advocates may that “active aging” is always better than leisure or disengagement.  Others are worried about making sure we have enough workers to support Social Security.
Still others try to frighten people into better retirement planning by invoking disasters that come if you just do nothing.

True, we may have to raise the retirement age, like Greece and many other countries are thinking about. And by all means let’s open up more choices for the balance between work and leisure in later life.  But let’s not “pad” these arguments with the false belief that retirement is bad for your health and well-being.



The following “Fact of the Week” comes from the Sloan Center on Aging and Work at Boston College:

In 1995, 17% of men and 9% of women aged 65+ were in the labor force. “By 2009, 22% of men and 13% women were” in the labor force, according to a 2010 report based on data from the Current Population Survey.”

For more on a cross-national perspective on “The End of Early Retirement” visit:




Have you noticed that they’re letting children into college these days?  If that point has escaped you, read the latest Beloit College Mind-Set List for the Class of 2014, which reminds us that most students entering college for the first time this fall were born in 1992.  Here are some things to remember about them:

1. E-mail is just too slow, and they seldom if ever use snail mail.

2. With increasing numbers of ramps, Braille signs, and handicapped parking spaces, the world has always been trying harder to accommodate people with disabilities.

3. Dr. Jack Kevorkian has never been licensed to practice medicine.

4. DNA fingerprinting and maps of the human genome have always existed.

5. They’ve never recognized that pointing to their wrists was a request for the time of day.

6. Czechoslovakia has never existed.

7. “Assisted living” has always been replacing nursing homes, while hospice has always been an alternative to hospitals.

8. Russians and Americans have always been living together in space.

9. They have always had a chance to do community service with local and federal programs to earn money for college..

10. There have always been woman priests in the Anglican Church.

11. Having hundreds of cable channels but nothing to watch has always been routine.

12. The nation has never approved of the job Congress is doing.



The Association for Gerontology in Higher Education (AGHE) has a program to help higher education institutions with gerontology education.

The AGHE Consultation Program assists community and four-year colleges and universities in adding gerontology to traditional curricula; developing or evaluating a gerontology program; developing a strategy for long-term planning; obtaining an objective assessment, external review, or validation of a proposed or existing program of gerontology instruction; and obtaining resource materials on adding, expanding, or evaluating gerontology instruction.

The AGHE Consultation Program provides a selection of national academic experts to choose from in order to ensure the best possible fit for institutional needs.  For more information on this program, contact Angela Baker, AGHE Director, at (202) 587-2844 or email at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

HANDBOOK OF SOCIAL GERONTOLOGY, by Dale Dannefer and Chris Phillipson (Sage, 2010).



There is no “magic bullet” against Alzheimer’s Disease, according to a special advisory panel of 15 medical scientists appointed to find an answer to the question ‘Can anything prevent Alzheimer’s disease or delay its progression?’ The group eventually wrote, ‘Currently no evidence of even moderate scientific quality exists to support the association of any modifiable factor (such as nutritional supplements, herbal preparations, dietary factors, prescription or nonprescription drugs, social or economic factors, medical conditions, toxins or environmental exposures) with reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease.”  For details, see the NY Time story at: http://ntserver2.geron.org/t/58954/395346/3253/0/



BRAVE OLD WORLD is an open source cite about aging in America, created by the Columbia University School of Journalism.
It offers many resources of interest.  Visit them at:


WIKIPEDIA. Is it time to collaborate on strengthening Gerontology on Wikipedia?  For some thoughts on new ways of using Wikipedia for college instruction, visit:


ETHNOGERIATRICS. A model Core Curriculum in “Ethnogeriatrics,”
edited by Gwen Yeo and others at the Stanford University Geriatric Education Center, is available online at:



This electronic newsletter, edited by Harry (Rick) Moody, is published by the Association for Gerontology
in Higher Education (AGHE) and co-sponsored by the Office of Academic Affairs at AARP. The information expressed in this newsletter was not composed by AGHE or any member of
its staff. To submit items of interest or request subscription changes, contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


Association for Gerontology in Higher Education
1220 L Street, NW, Suite 901, Washington, DC 20005
202.289.9806 • This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it • www.aghe.org


**Used with Permission**