By John Rolfe
In my increasingly precarious state at the venerable age of 63, I find it helps to keep things in one place where I’m reasonably sure they will be when I need them — assuming I remember where that place is located. So a website like Gracefully Greying is a boon.
Please allow me to explain:
From my vantage point beyond the crest of life’s hill, I can see that many stiff (pardon the pun) challenges await me on the remaining road to dissolution, so it doesn’t help that my bones groan whenever I bend down and attempt to stand up. My beard is gray, my physique is no longer fast (it is bulbous), and I have the reflexes of a morphine addict. Wheezing, running to the bathroom, and shrieking at the kids on the school bus I drive are about all the aerobic exercise I can comfortably handle these days.
It’s not the best shape to be in when life is about to get much more challenging.
Blessedly, if something is germane to the minefield of our golden years, Gracefully Greying addresses it with useful information on health, the pandemic, financial planning, legal issues, work, lifestyle and more.
A case in point: The article “Starting a Home Business — 5 Tips for Seniors” by life coach Lori Eber comes in handy since I’ve taken a 75% pay cut after being downsized from my longtime corporate gig. And now that my mind has developed a sieve-like quality, the website’s podcast segment “Staying Active” in which brain fitness expert Dr. Andrea Wilkinson and geriatrician Dr. Angela Catic discuss how to exercise “in realistic and sustainable ways” is definitely for me.
What makes Gracefully Greying truly impressive, and reassuring, is that its founder, Henry Gornbein, is 78 and he started the site just three years ago. A year later, graphic designer Laurie Blume joined the project, perfecting the look and feel of the website. She is now Gornbein’s partner.
An attorney from Bloomfield Hills, Mich., who specializes in family law, Gornbein had been blogging, writing for magazines, and interviewing lawyers, judges, prosecutors, and psychologists for a video series called “Practical Law” when he decided to talk to people about issues we all face as we get older.
“There’s always something that happens,” he told The Insider. “No one goes through life totally unscarred.”
So Gornbein shot more than 100 segments on medical, spiritual and economic subjects with the heads of hospices, rabbis, and other walks of life. “The topics were endless,” he says. “That’s what intrigues me.”
Gracefully Graying immediately intrigued other people, too, attracting nearly 18,000 page views in six months. Gornbein’s newsletter “Senior Musings” now has thousands of subscribers. Sponsors and content providers have come on board, and another contingent of dedicated followers dwell on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.
No doubt, part of Gracefully Graying’s appeal is its convenient one-stop shopping. “There are so many sites that focus on medical and legal issues,” Gornbein says. “I just thought, ‘Why not do everything?’”
There are now more than 250 articles, videos and podcasts of all kinds on the site, many about navigating the perils of life in old age. “There are so many scams out there,” he says. “It’s just a very dangerous world and that’s going to get worse, not better.”
Well, that sounds familiar. It’s not a scam (though it can feel like one), but my wife and I recently got our first taste of the wonderful world of Medicare, an utterly baffling place where you have Part A, Part B, Part D, assorted out-of-pocket costs, and coverage holes through which you can easily sail a battleship. Those holes must be plugged by a seemingly endless supply of “supplemental” plans with fancy names like Medicare Advantage, MediGap, and MediChasm.
As my wife lamented, “You go through life thinking Medicare will be this great thing because it’s free and has all this great coverage and then you find it’s just a hodgepodge of crap.”
After scratching our heads for a week, we finally found an insurance broker who explained it all to us, but it would have helped to have known about Gornbein’s site if only to get started in a less bewildering fashion. His video “Medicare Coverage: Issues and Options” with Mary Schmitt Smith, Michigan’s first elder law attorney, is a great primer that offers some helpful resources.
Gornbein is now looking to expand further into the human interest realm. “I would love to interview people near the end of life,” he says. “Everyone has a story.”
I must confess that Gornbein’s age, energy and website (its slogan is “Living Life Fully!”) have me thinking I can be reasonably useful for a while longer even if I am, as is obvious to me and anyone else around me, getting a bit, shall we say, creaky and sketchy.
“I don’t want to retire” he says. “As long as I can do this, why not? You can be creative at any age.”
Henry Gornbein, Co-founder
Henry has practiced family law in the Metro Detroit area for over 50 years. He is of counsel at Lipson Neilson PC. Henry is a former chair of the family law section of the State Bar of Michigan, former president of the Michigan chapter of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, and a former chair of the long-range planning committee of the National American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. He is known as an expert in understanding social media’s role in divorces and has authored several books including Divorce Demystified-Everything You Need to Know Before You File for Divorce and Child Custody-A Complete Guide for Parents. Henry is a graduate of Wayne State University and has his law degree from the University of Michigan.
Laurie Blume, Co-founder, Marketing and Strategy Director
Laurie is the owner of Blume Design, a marketing, strategy, and design firm. She has worked with clients on comprehensive marketing solutions, creating distinctive brands through a set of marketing and communication methods and asset development, helping to distinguish themselves from competitors and create lasting impressions. She is the co-chair of Inforum Michigan Art & Culture Affinity Group in Southeast Michigan and an Ambassador for the Birmingham Bloomfield Chamber of Commerce. Laurie is a graduate of the School of Art and Design at the University of Michigan.