To Stay or to Leave

In the early days of Russia’s attack on Ukraine, I saw on CNN an interview with two older women in one of the towns being attacked. Both told the interviewer that they had no plans to evacuate, that they would stay where they were. Because they were standing in front of a large apartment complex, I assumed that was their home and that they were widows. They wore the familiar outfits of older Ukrainian women: long, peasant like dresses, sturdy shoes and babushkas on their heads. They looked like the archetypal grandmother: genial but no nonsense, with their feet solidly planted on their homeland.

I’ve read that Ukraine has one of the highest percentages of elderly in the world: In 2018, more than one-fifth of the country’s population were over the age of 60. That means many older Ukrainians are facing a horrible choice: Should they stay in their homes, which could be bombed or controlled by Russians, or should they flee the place they’ve lived most (or all) of their lives for the safety of another country?

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Traveling With Technology

As we, two older women, approached the United Airlines ticketing counter to check our bags and get our boarding passes, I was initially disoriented. Instead of the long lines I’m accustomed to, I saw only a handful of people, and I didn’t see any ticketing agents behind the counters. Had we come to the right place? Had I misread or failed to see the signs for ticketing as we walked from where we had dropped off our rental car?

I approached the automated kiosk and fumbled to get the piece of paper out of my purse that had the confirmation code to access my reservation. But as I did so, an airline staffer must have seen or sensed our confusion. Or maybe he was trained to spot old people who are technology-hesitant, who take too long to answer all the questions on the screen and thus slow down the whole system. He quickly pushed all the right buttons on the kiosk, efficiently wrapped our tags around the suitcases and took them to the conveyor belt, handed us the printed boarding passes and sent us on our way.

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Breakfasts of My Youth

I recently received a gift of several grapefruit, a fruit I rarely eat and one I associate with my childhood. It was the staple of my family’s breakfasts, along with orange juice and seemingly unlimited amounts of milk. Several decades ago, I stopped drinking OJ when a doctor told me it had too much sugar. And I stopped eating grapefruit when I found out it interfered with a medication I was taking.

Is nothing sacred? Although we grew up being told that we needed milk for strong bones, now we’re told that milk and other dairy products are the top source of saturated fat in the American diet, contributing to heart disease, type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s. Studies have also linked dairy to an increased risk of breast, ovarian, and prostate cancers.

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