BY LORI BITTER
As she does most mornings, Connie Goldman started her day in the swimming pool. Then she was ready to talk. It’s nearly impossible to get her to talk about her life of more than 80 years. But, with eight books on topics related to aging, and hundreds of interviews in her long career at NPR, there is much that she could say. As the voice of National Public Radio’s All Things Considered, Connie’s voice is familiar to listeners.
“I started by interviewing celebrities when I was the arts reporter for NPR. People were inclined to pay attention to celebrities, so it was the device I used,” she recalls. “As I started to think about writing books, I used my theatre background to translate my interview style for reading.”
“In my fifties I was drawn to tell stories about the truth of aging. You have to understand what’s happening when you age if you are going to deal with it. Most of us start to understand it when we are caregiving. The person you are caring for is changing physically and mentally. It’s not predictable, things happen quickly, and you feel anxious to keep them safe,” Connie explains. “In our desire to keep them safe, we take away independence. You have to have sensitivity – the worst feeling is when someone is making a rule that you aren’t included in as an older adult.”
“Our challenge is to understand what is possible for our bodies and our minds as we live longer.”
One of Connie’s most important books, now in its second edition, is The Gifts of Caregiving: Stories of Hardship, Hope and Healing, a compilation of stories of people who have accepted the role of primary caregiver. While the book reflects the sacrifices and challenges of the role, it focuses on the gifts of inspiration and insight that caregiving provides and stories of the healing that can happen in families through the caregiving experience.
“I never took a journalism course,” she shared. “I somehow knew that you could hear someone’s story and have a thought that had never occurred to you before, and create a solution or a new idea. When I wrote The Gifts of Caregiving, no one talked about caregiving and the burden of getting to know a mother you never knew. The stories had impact. They were regular people in extraordinary circumstances.”
Now Connie is meeting her own old age, and as a long-time proponent of the concept of an “ageless” life, she is circumspect. “Agelessness is not an attempt to deny age as though it is something that is happening to someone else. People are living into their 90s and to 100! We are not who we used to be. Our challenge is to understand what is possible for our bodies and our minds as we live longer.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR – LORI BITTER
Lori Bitter provides strategic consulting, research and development for companies seeking to engage with mature consumers at The Business of Aging. She serves as publisher of GRAND – the digital magazine for grandparents. Her book, “The Grandparent Economy” is now available at Paramount Market Publishing or on Amazon.com.