A Long Time Coming: Essays on Old Age (Melanie Joosten, Scribe)
It can be difficult to admit that we are all products of an ageist society, guilty of stereotyping and discrimination against the elderly, regarding them as a hopeless and expensive burden. A Long Time Coming, the first work of nonfiction from author and social worker Melanie Joosten, comprises a series of thoughtful, compassionate essays on old age. Combining memoir, research and interviews, Joosten sheds light on the crises facing the elderly, and interrogates the ‘invisible turning point where we begin to punish the old for existing rather than respect them’. Each essay examines an aspect of the ageing process and our perceptions of the elderly: the way our youth-obsessed society approaches old age as though it were an illness to be treated by staying active, keeping busy, working longer; the housing difficulties facing older people; nursing homes and the challenge of providing culturally appropriate care for Indigenous people; understanding dementia through literature; and the realities of depression and loneliness. This is a patchy but very readable collection that serves as a timely reminder of the challenges faced by the elderly in our ageist society.
Cosima McGrath is the Marketing and Communications Officer at Collins Booksellers