sob sisters

Thanks to my friend Lois Roelofs and her post “Growing Older In “Style,” I found Ari Seth Cohen, a twenty-eight-year-old who is spotlighting “stylish senior citizens.” Love it. Older women—and men—who ignore the old adage: “dress your age.”

looking good

How come a twenty-eight-year-old man finds older people so fascinating? Well, I was sure there had to be an older role model in his life. And indeed there was—a grandmother. Aha!

Back in the 80s at my first job as a gernotological nurse practitioner, Betty, a social worker, and I conducted monthly orientation sessions about geriatrics for new nursing staff. Geriatrics was a new medical specialty at the time and Betty and I wanted to sensitize the group to aging issues.

Betty had the nurses imagine themselves at different stages of life. Invariably, someone would object to the exercise, not surprisingly, when Betty had them imagine looking at themselves in a mirror at different ages. “Now you’re 80 years old. What do you see? How do you feel? How are you dressed?”  (We would, as a matter of course, excuse anyone who didn’t want to participate.)

There were incidents of tears. On one occasion a woman picked up her purse, notebook and coat and stormed out of the room shouting her disapproval of our experiential process. From that day on, our boss dubbed us the Sob Sisters.

However, the majority of our class enjoyed the exercise. Those most enthusiastic usually mentioned an older person in their life that they respected and cared about. This anecdotal experience of mine carries over to the assessment of Ari Seth Cohen. He sees older folks in a positive light to be celebrated and acknowledged. Thanks to his grandmother.

By Marianna Crane

After a long career in nursing--I was one of the first certified gerontological nurse practitioners--I am now a writer. My writings center around patients I have had over the years that continue to haunt my memory unless I record their stories. In addition, I write about growing older, confronting ageism, creativity and food. My memoir, "Stories from the Tenth Floor Clinic: A Nurse Practitioner Remembers" is available where ever books are sold.


  1. Yes, a big thanks to Cohen for letting us grandmas be who we want to be at our advancing age and wear what we want to wear and do what we want to do and more! And, I’ll bet you never gave it a thought in the 80s that you were role modeling (y)our future. Where did the time go?


  2. Love this concept, Marianna, of imagining oneself at different ages–of looking in a mirror and seeing the changed face. What an excellent prompt idea. I have people write about what they see now in the mirror but thinking ahead . . . hmmm. Will try it.

    So keep up your styling and your cool hair and great clothes. You are a grandmother and you’re giving me ideas in case I’m privileged enough to become one.



      1. I like how you put it, Marianna. “Spoil the surprise.” It’s definitely a surprise to be older than my grandparents were when I first knew them and thought they were so old. Funny how your perspective changes as the years go by.


  3. Ah yes, I remember those sessions well, Marianna, and the reactions and discussions that followed. As the image in my own mirror gradually changed, I first saw my mother looking back at me. Now I just see me. Yes, Lois, where did the time go? I’m grateful to be here, facing the challenges and benefits of this time of life. Thanks for the memory! Thanks to Ari Seth Cohen for his appreciation and to his grandmother for her wise teachings.


    1. Betty, I think the experiential exercise is needed today as much as back 30 years ago when geriatrics was a new medical specialty. And yes, where did the time go?


  4. We just had this discussion yesterday in my book club of older persons like me. We decided our attitude makes the difference and we are not ready or willing to be put away as useless on a shelf. Marching on in our seventh and eighth decades!


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