Senior Citizen's Guide digital books
Senior Citizen's Guide

Live Long & Prosper

As we welcome the baby boomers into the world of senior discounts and Early Bird specials, we are also welcoming Star Trek fans. "Live long and prosper" is a phrase used in that popular science fiction television and movie classic. However, the phrase doesn't work when we face terms like "sicker and quicker", plummeting markets, and cuts in Medicare, which make us start to wonder about the words, "long" and "prosper.

My cousin, Joni, from Illinois wrote me recently about how she copes with the pain of rheumatoid arthritis. Joni asks, "Where is the gold in golden years?"

Can we live long and prosper? Or perhaps we should rephrase the question. HOW can we live long and prosper?

Invest Yourself
Former President Jimmy Carter writes in his book, The Virtues of Aging, that we have four basic gifts in our senior years: time, freedom, knowledge and experience. And we must use these gifts and our talents to make them last and grow.

The length of our life, inflation, the stock market, medicine, and our family structure are all more or less out of our control. But our time? We can decide how to spend it. Our freedom? We don't have to wait for the baby sitter. Our knowledge? We may not all possess a Ph.D., but we have a degree in C.S. -Common Sense - from a lifetime of work. And experience? A grandson is disappointed in love. We've been there. A daughter has to face a hard decision with an employer. We've been there, too. We may not know it all but we have accumulated a great deal of wisdom. How to invest it is a quest and a question.

So many people out there need your wisdom, knowledge and experience. People in hospitals, nursing homes, food kitchens, libraries, and churches need your help. Get involved and invest some of your talents.

Living to 100
Dr. Thomas Perls and Margery Silver, Ed.D. are the authors of Living to 100. They are conducting a very unique study of men and women who reach the age of 100. We live at a time when there are over 50,000 men and women in this age category in the United States alone. Perls and Silver decided it was time for someone to study why this population has tripled in the past twenty years. They have followed over 100 of these centenarians very closely to discover what, if any, similarities in lifestyle they might have.

They did conclude that genes do matter. These folks picked their parents wisely! But they also found out that this group of people had other things in common that might help you and I who don't benefit from that gene pool.

Keeping an active mind was one thing these 100+ seniors had in common. Whether it meant playing Scrabble or cards, reading, or being open to learning new skills, it is important to keep exercising our minds. My mother-in-law lived to be 97 years old. She used to tell her son that she thought her love for the game of Scrabble and crosswords kept her alert. Dr. Perls indicates there may be a great deal of truth to that belief. Much like aerobics do for the cardiovascular system, word building helps "work out" the brain.

Dementia and Alzheimer Disease is a reality for many. It is a physical change that happens in the brain. Medical science has no cure for this disease at this time. What an opportunity for those of us who have been spared this disease to use the talents we have been given to spend a loving moment with these folks.

Perls and Silver have also learned that rewarding social relationships are essential. Friends are so important. Maybe that is why the senior housing market is thriving. People need to have social interaction. Family may not always be handy or "friendly". My Aunt Frances writes to 25 pen pals a month. She loves writing letters. She sends newspaper articles, cartoons, and recipes to people she only knows through her letters. A 79-year-old lady in Butler who I know of organizes her own bus tours. She does five trips in the fall and five in the spring. It is a lot of trouble for her at times, but her trips are great fun. She told me she could never find anyone who wanted to travel to the spots she liked, so she created the tours herself.

Most importantly, being flexible and adaptable is crucial to living long. One thing you can count on is that there will be sufficient problems in each person's life, and life will never "settle down". So treat yourself well, and be flexible.

 

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