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The real story about aging is that every person's path is different. The only thing that is certain about aging is that we become more unique as we get older. The reasons for this are myriad. Each person has a discrete genetic make-up. The time, place and conditions in which we are born greatly affect our access to good nutrition, education, health care and lifestyles. As we go on in life, our singularity becomes more evident. Thus, a group of five year olds are far more similar in physiognomy, character, attitude and outlook than a group of eighty year olds (see graph below). Yet, our culture leads us to believe that old people are more alike!

The "Real Aging" section highlights examples of complex older adult characters presented in books and the media, as well as exhibits a breadth of real older adults being their real selves. The more we, as a society, come to recognize older adults as individuals, the more clearly we see how similarities are driven by circumstance (living on a limited income, eg) than true homogeneity.




Grandma on Sid the Science Kid

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"Sid the Science Kid" is a children's show on PBS. The story line follows a young boy each day as learns to follow his curiousity about the world around him through scientific method. Sid is a preschool aged boy who gets dropped off by his mother at preschool each day. After playing and exploring, he is picked up by his grandmother, the Grandma character. This Grandma is presumably single, very engaged in seeing her grandchildren, but also involved in many separate interests like adopting a dog, sustainable living and yoga. Grandma is also actively employed as a nurse.

The show's website can be found at Sid the Science Kid on





Shirley Schmidt

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Shirley Schmidt is a character played by the inimitable Candice Bergen on "Boston Legal." The character was a tough, brassy yet elegant older woman who had achieved tremendous stature in her career as a lawyer. Throughout the three-year series, a number of men swooned over Schmidt and Bergen had numerous romantic scenes. Schmidt's character developed further depth when it was revealed that her father suffered from Alzheimer's and she, as an adult child, oversaw his care.

More can be learned about Shirley Schmidt at the character page on Wikipedia. Episodes of Boston Legal are available via NetFlix and TVLand.




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