The aging brochure states, "Older workers, however, are more dependable, have lower turnover rates, have fewer absences and accidents, show better judgment, and are as productive as younger workers" (Schmall and Pratt, 1996, p. 8). His most productive time in promoting his cause came in his 60s and 70s, and he is still doing it at nearly 81 years of age, illustrating that older workers and older people in general, still have plenty of capabilities to work hard for what they believe in.
This exercise helps the student become more aware of the great gift of growing old and learning from your experiences. Dr. Kevorkian did not begin his work with PAS until well into his career, another indication of older adults being able to change, and his dedication to his cause is inspiring and educational at the same time. At age 80, he still travels the country to enlist support for his cause, and he is a living reminder that you do not have to slow down and take it easy after you retire. I think this exercise has given me more respect about the lives and importance of aging adults, and it will give me more patience and admiration of them when I work with them in a healthcare-related career. Older adults are often dismissed from society and left to live out their lives in institutions, but they have a lot to teach people if they will only listen, and I think that is important to know as we work with them.
Another thing this analysis and the Aging Awareness Timeline has pointed out is that young people often forget how much aging adults have seen in their lives, and how much they have learned from it. Kevorkian was born in 1928, a year when one of the greatest accomplishments was Charles Lindberg's flight from New York to Paris, something so commonplace today it is almost laughable. He graduated from high school the year World War II ended, and throughout his life, he has seen everything from the birth of commercial air transportation to man walking on the moon and the invention of the computer. That is a pretty incredible timeline, and it indicates how adaptable humans are to change, not just aging humans. We adapt to change, even revolution, our entire lives, and Kevorkian clearly illustrates this.
Dr. Kevorkian may not be a hero to many people, and his practices are controversial at best. However, he is a shining example of an older American who dispels many of the long-held myths about aging. He learned new things to alter his life after his career ended, he works passionately for a cause he believes in, even at age 80, and he survived over eight years in prison and several murder trials. He works hard, and he has seen the real transformation of society from one without things we take for grated today, to a technology-driven society innovating for the future. He illustrates the very opposite of the myths that persist about aging. As you age, you do not have to get "old" and buy into the myths. You can still have a vital, amazing, and challenging life, whether you choose to work for a cause you are passionate about, care for your grandchildren, or find a new relationship. All of those things are possible as you age, if you stay positive and continue dispelling myths along the way.
Aging Awareness Timeline
Milestone in Older Adult's Life
Age at Milestone
Graduates from high school
Graduates from med school
Begins writing on PAS
First PAS covered in media
Barred from practicing medicine
Conviction on murder charges
Released from prison
Appears on talk shows an in person
Charles Lindberg received Medal of Honor for his flight to Paris.
End of World War II
Queen Elizabeth II of England crowned
The Falklands War takes place
Nelson Mandela released from prison.
Gulf War begins
April 20, 1999 Columbine High School Massacre
Final "Harry Potter" book released.
First black American president elected, financial collapse and bailout.
Atwood Gailey, E. (2003). Write to death: News framing of the right to die conflict, from Quinlan's coma to Kevorkian's conviction. Westport, CT: Praeger.
Dr. Kevorkian and His Victims. (1996, August 24). The Washington Times, p.…