Q. What should the organization be doing instead?
A. AARP needs to concentrate more on some of the negative inevitabilities of old age. We need to talk not just about loneliness and disease as something that can be defied or overcome, but often as something that people just have to live with; stop acting as though a positive attitude is the best way to live longer, and that anybody who's a little bit grumpy is depressed.
Q. What messages would you like readers to take away from Never Say Die?
A. One thing everybody can do is insist on the right to be who they are as long as they can. We have the right to not only our happinesses and our satisfactions, but to our unhappinesses and our dissastisfactions. One of the emotions old people are most forbidden to express is anger. Anger, like love and everything else, is part of what makes us who we are. If you're still looking for a lover, if you're still that dissatisfied with your life as it is, then go for it. You don't have to be this placid little old lady.
Julia M. Klein is a cultural reporter and critic in Philadelphia and a contributing editor at the Columbia Journalism Review.