Steven Petrow on the Stupid Things He Won’t Do When He Gets Old

Episode Summary

Debbie Weil talks to award-winning journalist and author Steven Petrow about our ambivalence about getting old, the long list of stupid things old people do (that he vows NOT to do), and how to talk about the hard stuff with our elders. A fun, easy listen about hard topics.

Episode Notes

Today, Debbie talks with with Steven Petrow about his new book, Stupid Things I Won't Do When I Get Old: A Highly Judgmental, Unapologetically Honest Accounting of All the Things Our Elders Are Doing Wrong

The title says it all, as does the format of the book. The list of stupid things to avoid is offered in 43 bite-size chapters. Steven is an award-winning journalist and author who is best known for his Washington Post and New York Times essays on aging, health, and LGBTQ issues. Debbie has been following his work for a while and when she heard about his new book on old age she jumped on getting him onto the show.

We've all had a lot of time to think about life - and death - during this pandemic gap year and old age is starting to get personal for Debbie (she turns 70 this year). She figured Steven's humorous approach to the topic would make it easier to get into a substantive discussion about getting old. It did and you'll find this conversation goes surprisingly deep. 

The book covers lighter topics like:


Debbie and Steven talk about harder stuff.  When does old age actually start? The looming uncertainty of how many years - how many good years - you have left? How to make that time count?

They also talk about things no one wants to talk about (like decreased libido, not wanting to use a walker, and the "smell" of old people). And they talk about how to have the hard conversations with elderly parents. You know the ones: “Maybe you shouldn’t be driving anymore” or “Maybe it’s time to think about getting more care at home” or “What kind of memorial service do you want?”

Steven offers candid answers for how to address the indignities and challenges of old age whether you are encountering them through family members and friends, or worrying about yourself. This is a fun, easy listen.


Mentioned in this episode or useful:



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