Getting Old

Harrison Ford once said: “You know you’re getting old when all the names in your black book have M.D. after them.”  

Growing up I would sometimes snicker when I would ask my grandmother how she was doing and she reeled off a list of ailments.

“Oh I’m fine” she would say.  “My head has been hurting, my stomach was a little upset yesterday, my right foot is numb now, but otherwise, I’m doing fine.”  

As a youngster, I guess I never realized all of the “perks” of growing old.  Of course you do get free coffee and a discounted biscuit at some fast food places, but there’s also the wisdom and experience that comes with growing older.  

A few years ago a group of researchers at a New York university interviewed thousands of Americans and found people 50 and older were happier.  Their anger had declined from when they were in their 20s and their stress levels were not nearly as high as they once were.  

I’m now well into my 40s.  I recently realized my arms were no longer long enough to read the newspaper.  I tried everything before finally succumbing to the idea of progressive bifocals. . . one focal length for seeing up close and another for seeing at a distance.  We can thank a wise man named Ben Franklin for coming up with that idea.  As the story goes, he got tired of switching between two types of glasses, so he devised a way to have both types of lenses fit into one frame.  

I’m sure Franklin would really enjoy my new glasses. Not only are they a bifocal, but they also magically turn into sunglasses when I go outside and have some fancy coating on the lenses to ward off computer glare and car lights at night, as well as prevent scratches.  

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You can barely turn on the TV these days without hearing a commercial for a cream or a pill that is supposed to make the aging process more bearable.  I did a little informal poll, asked a few senior adults I know their take on growing old and found some rather interesting results.  While there are no remedies to prevent aging, here are a few things they shared.  

• Laugh at yourself.  Laughter is better than medicine, right? 

• Maintain a healthy lifestyle.  Whether it’s a walk around the block or cutting the carbs, healthy eating and exercise are keys to a happy life.  

• Watch less TV.  Get out more, travel, meet people, and have fun.  (A recent study showed retired people spend upwards of 40 hours a week in front of the TV.  That’s too much sitting!)

• Volunteer.  You have a lot of wisdom to impart to the younger generation. Teach a Sunday School class, help a children’s group or adopt a cause you’re passionate about.  

Perhaps that list is the true fountain of youth.  Perhaps the “aging cure” is to let others know there’s nothing to worry about.  

After all, as the saying goes, “Old age isn’t so bad when you consider the alternative.”

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