If A Boomer Cannot Immediately Bring to Mind A Date, Name, or Word Does Not Mean He or She Is Impaired, Challenged, Or Lacks Wisdom, Intelligence, Or Competence

This Grandma is getting angrier and angrier about ageism. According to the World Health Organization, “ageism refers to the stereotypes (how we think), prejudice (how we feel) and discrimination (how we act) towards others or oneself based on age.”

I didn’t think about ageism until I was forced to mandatorily retire at age 70 a successfully elected circuit judgeship prior to the end of my term in Florida.  Florida law did not examine or consider my wisdom, intelligence, or competence. Florida law did not examine or consider my stamina, my strength, and my physical ability. Frankly, I thought, and still do, that when Florida law changed the retirement age to 75 seemingly almost immediately after a about a third of the bench in Florida mandatorily retired at age 70, that the delay in passage was just to get rid of all of us Baby Boomers and fill the bench with Florida governor selected young appointees in such a great number at one time, rather than staggering the loss of immense judicial talent. Never mind that the historical knowledge, experience, and mentorship for new judges also was forced out. 

Now, pundits broadcasting that Boomers are too old to do their important jobs infuriates me. There is something to be said for gaining wisdom over the years as we age. I know that I was a much better judge near the end of my career than I was at the beginning of my career.  In my career, I wrote a 1700 page two volume book on Florida Family Law and Practice. That book is still used significantly throughout the state of Florida by family lawyers and judges. I could still recall a good deal of my book from memory, but what I notice more often now (which I think some of any age might also endure) is that my brain does not sometimes immediately bring to mind a word that I want to use, a name, a date.  I cannot say that I enjoy this, but to say that someone is not competent to do their job in their 70s or 80s is an anathema. See, I still have my vocabulary.

But then, again, I am not an expert on aging. I am just living aging. I do everything I can to keep myself physically and mentally strong for myself even though I am mandatorily retired. Would I have stayed to age 75 if the law had been passed before I retired rather than after? Absolutely yes. I have done a good job and would do so. No, I would have done an outstanding job.  I still would.

And who would have benefited from the additional years of historical knowledge, wisdom gained, and experience? In the judiciary and the government, the public that we are elected to serve.

In the Saturday/Sunday, February 11–12, 2024, edition of the “Wall Street Journal” there is a review by a real expert on aging. “In Choosing Our Leaders, The Issue Isn’t Age But Ability: We don’t want candidates with serious physical and cognitive problems, but it would be a mistake to set an arbitrary age cut off for the presidency – or any important job.” Louise Aronson, the author, is a geriatrician, a medical doctor and a professor of medicine at UC San Francisco and the author of “Elderhood: Redefining Aging, Transforming Medicine, Reimagining Life.“  A geriatrician is a medical doctor who provides primary care to patients over age 65, focusing on prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of age-related health problems.

Dr. Aronson, a geriatrician and a professor of medicine, reports:

“ A growing number of highly educated, white collar professionals, derive their identity from their occupation, a phenomenon the writer, Derek Thompson has called “workism.” we live in a culture where old age is dreaded and disparaged, and for many people— particularly those with prestigious jobs, like the President of the United States— retiring, feels like entering, avoid, or an anti-chamber for death.”

“Anxiety about aging leaders is partly a microcosm of our collective consternation at the prospect of growing old.  Given that most of us are or will become old, we should work to create the kind of world we want to be old in, one of opportunities and recognition of competence at all stages of life.” (emphasis added).

Think about it. Would you want a Judge deciding the future of your child to be Gen X or older Millennials with months of experience or a judge in his or her 70s with over 20 years on the bench?

Dr. Aronson, an expert, states,

“Rather than make assumptions about older politicians’ physical abilities we should stick to more objective analysis of their policies, failures, and accomplishments.” (emphasis added).

We, those not experts on aging and ageism, should just not make assumptions, according to Dr. Aronson.  But then again, does the general public care about the best person for the job or the best person for their version of the profession when they don’t even know what the profession entails and don’t want to or have not been educated as to it.  No one has civics education anymore. See, “Forgotten Purpose: Civics Education in Public Schools,” by Amanda Litvonov, National Education Association, March 16, 2017.

If you didn’t take civics in high school or college and have not educated yourself as to civics since, I, as a former Florida elected circuit judge mandated to retire at age 70 prior to the end of my term without expert determination of my mental acuity, don’t care what you think when a name, date, or a word on the tip of my tongue does not immediately come to mind.



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