The Fountain of Age

Betty Friedan, a mother of three and grandmother of eight when this book was written, gained widespread public recognition in 1963 with her landmark book THE FEMININE MYSTIQUE. She went on to found the National Organization for Women (NOW), the National Women’s Political Caucus, and the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL). At sixty-five, she became a distinguished visiting professor at the University of Southern California. Friedan has never given herself time to age: She has been too busy teaching, writing, lecturing, thinking, and traveling to fret about the passing years.

In this upbeat book, Friedan discusses many of the practical questions that confront older Americans. Should they retire? If so, when? Should they relocate in retirement? How can they deal with physical disabilities? What role does intimacy play in the lives of old people? Her answers are dependably optimistic, enthusiastic, and encouraging.

Friedan herself has not been spared the inroads aging makes on individuals. Before she was sixty-five, she required cataract surgery, but the positive side of her surgery was that it restored her vision to its youthful sharpness. She joined an Outward Bound group for people above the age of fifty-five and, although she could not master all the activities of the program, she did what she could, thereby gaining considerable confidence in her ability to function well under duress.

Pointing out that only small minorities of older people are confined to nursing homes and even a smaller percentage develop Alzheimer’s disease, Friedan contends that physical and mental faculties that are not used atrophy. Her quintessential contention seems to be that wearing out is far preferable to rusting out.