New York Times reporter John Leland thought he knew how to write about the “oldest old” — people 85 and up. For a proposed year-long series, he figured he would chronicle a laundry list of their issues: things like the dangers of falling, financial pressures and family conflict.
As Leland delved deeper, however, he realized the people in this age group were more than the sum of their problems. And he saw how much he didn’t know about the realities of aging. The resulting “85 & Up” series took a more holistic view of their lives. “I thought aging was about decline and loss,” he told Next Avenue. “I found the problems, but none of the people defined themselves by that.”