This story appeared last week in Senior Journal under the title “Geriatric Psychiatrist Sees Anxiety Gripping Senior Citizens in Economic Crisis”:
For older adults who have lived through the Great Depression, news stories comparing present circumstances to the harsh realities of food lines, few jobs, and extreme poverty of the 1930’s may be panic-producing. Add that to the fact that an economic crisis disproportionately affects older adults who need access to retirement funds, and it’s not surprising that seniors are feeling anxious.
No, not surprising. But what surprised me was the advice provided by Saint Louis University psychiatrist George Grossberg, in response to the “increase in economy-related anxiety” he sees among old folks.
My own advice to geezers who’ve just lost their life savings would be to hobble down to Wall Street and beat the money managers senseless with their canes–or, for the nonviolent, to demand that their government punish the malfeasance and make provisions for the well-being of its elders.
Instead, Dr. Grossberg makes a series of apolitical, self-help suggestions like “Do a reality check,” “Count your blessings,” and “Get help” (from a doctor, not your government).
It all began to remind me of the advice handed out in the early 1950s, when Cold War fears of a nuclear attack were at their height. In reassuring posters and films, terrified schoolchildren were told that they’d be all right when the bomb exploded if they would just “Duck and Cover”:
Then as now, the reality more closely resembled parodies of the “Duck and Cover” campaign, which went something like this: “In case of a nuclear attack: 1) Stay calm. 2) Sit down and put your head between your legs. 3) Kiss your ass goodbye.” I’ve been told that the Russian equivalent was: “1) Remain calm. 2) Proceed in an orderly fashion to the nearest cemetery. 3) Dig your own grave.”