Navigating the Emotional Terrain of Our Elders
Mary Pipher, author of Reviving Ophelia, which charts the troubled passage of girls into adolescence, has nimbly covered yet another psychological passage: that into old age, which May Sarton called “a foreign country.”
Pipher reveals that the greatest shame for today’s elders, most of whom survived the Depression, is not being self-sufficient. The majority of them stoically prefer to keep their feelings to themselves, and this is why it’s so difficult to convince older parents to accept or even discuss such issues as physical and mental health, finances, eldercare, or living wills. This directly conflicts with the openness of their children, who were influenced by popularization of therapy. While a boomer can easily talk with a friend about marriage or personal difficulties, an elder is likely to find admitting such “weaknesses” abhorrent. Pipher offers new insights into communication across the generations.