Billy Crystal Attacks Ageism

I had the opportunity while taking some time off to visit our two grandchildren in Colorado to read one of the books that our youngest daughter, Jessica, gave me for Christmas.

The book is “Still Foolin’ ‘Em: Where I’ve Been, Where I’m Going, and Where the Hell Are My Keys” by Billy Crystal.

I found the book especially fascinating given BMA’s focus on assisted living, senior living and memory care. Billy provides a poignantly insightful and charmingly funny look at aging from the perspective of a Baby Boomer who recently turned 65.

Billy Crystal

One story, in particular, about 9/11 and Billy’s Uncle Berns brought back vivid memories. At the time, I was working for Classic Residence by Hyatt (now Vi). I first heard about a plane hitting one of the World Trade Center towers as I was riding the elevator up to my office on the 37th floor in our building on West Madison St. in downtown Chicago. A group of us sat in a corner office watching TV in dismay as events unfolded. As we watched, we heard that a plane was missing and possibly was heading for Chicago. The Sears Tower was in plain sight outside our window just two blocks away.

A colleague who worked in the office next to mine was out in New York. He was providing assistance at a retirement community that we had just opened in Yonkers. Billy’s Uncle Berns was living in an assisted living community located across the street from the World Trade Center. He had just moved in on Sept. 2. Because of the situation, Uncle Berns and the other residents of the assisted living community needed to be evacuated. Many were relocated to our newly opened community in Yonkers.

In the book, Billy provides fascinating insights into his career as a stand-up comedian, playing Jodie on the television series “Soap”, working on Saturday Night Live and on such movies as “When Harry Met Sally” and “City Slickers”, hosting the Oscars, and being the oldest person ever to play for the New York Yankees.

What I found to be even more fascinating were his insights into aging and his comments about ageism:

  • The comfort he takes in knowing that “his 65″ is not his “grandfather’s 65″
  • The treasure of grandchildren and the joy of seeing your children raise their children
  • The need to stay upbeat, positive and active as you age rather than giving up.
  • His belief that we should celebrate our birthdays as we age, especially when we turn 65
  • His concerns about professions that have mandatory retirement ages and about people being encouraged to leave their jobs just because they happen to reach a certain age
  • He wonders why we do not revere our elders the way they do in some other parts of the world, and he issues a Battle Cry to us Baby Boomers.

He wants Baby Boomers to wage war on ageism.

I could not agree more. Let’s Lower the Boomers on Ageism.

by Rick Banas

This article by Rick Banas was originally published at the BMA Management Blog on January 8, 2015.

To purchase Billy Crystal’s book please click here.

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