There are many excellent centers and meal sites for older adults on both sides of the river, but I’ve heard many folks avoid places for older people. But why? Is it a fear of catching some kind of “old age” contagion causing you to lose your cognitive abilities, balance, or sense of humor?
It’s just the opposite! Centers and meal sites offer opportunities to socialize, exercise, and share stories both funny and sad. Okay, there are canes and walkers, but they are just tools to stay active and engaged.
But what is “old”?
You may have heard the common quote by Bernard Baruch who stated, “Old age is ten years older than I am”. And according to the 2009 Pew Research Study “Growing Old in America: Expectations vs. Reality,” he isn’t far off the mark. The study found that as people grew older, they felt relatively younger. Among adults 65 and older, 60% felt younger than their age. And for those between 65 and 74, a half said they felt 10 to 20 years younger.
In terms of chronological age, academics have categorized old age into three subgroups: the Young Old 65-74, the Old 75-84, and the Oldest Old 85 plus. But chronological age doesn’t really help either because it doesn’t correlate with biological age. In fact, there is no reliable measurement for determining our biological age; and appearances alone don’t determine how old we are. (My lungs could be 45 but my knees are telling me, “Take it easy. I’m 101!’)
The reality is we all start aging the moment we’re born; we cannot stop it or reverse it – contrary to what you may hear. Arriving at the point of being “old” is an individual experience that resists any absolute definition.
But for me, I’ve found some signs that maybe, just maybe I am no longer that young whippersnapper. (Well, that’s a clue. Who uses the word whippersnapper anymore!)
Here are several clues I’ve found.
1.) I don’t know the names of current celebrities unless they are over 65.
2.) When I fly, TSA no longer considers me a high–security risk.
3.) An elderly woman in Portland was reported hurt and was 10 years younger than I am.
4.) When someone asks for help moving furniture, they look right past me. (But I’m not complaining!)
5.) I’m bundled up in a winter coat and scarf and high school kids are walking around in T-shirts.
6.) I fall asleep in the evening while watching television and my wife must explain what just happened.
7.) You turn to the classic rock station and it’s playing 80’s music. (What’s that about!)
8.) I prefer to stay in rather than go out.
9.) Items from my youth are now considered “vintage”.
10.) When telling a story, I begin with the disclaimer, “I may have told you this before.”
As Helen Hayes once said, “Age doesn’t matter unless you are a cheese” – or unless you are applying for Social Security and Medicare!
The cap Fess Parker made famous in the Disney miniseries Davy Crockett was a coonskin cap and the talking doll popular in the 60s that could speak when you pulled the string from her back was a Chatty Cathy doll. I received correct answers from John McEwen, Emmett Sampson, Susan Ellis, Stephen Woolpert, Tina Castanares, Pat Cadwell, Margo Dameier, Gene Uczen, Jess Birge, Nancy Higgins, Lana Tepfer, Rhonda Spies, Jim Tindall, Keith Clymer, and Rebecca Abrams, this week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket. And in the last two weeks, I missed Susan Ellis, Maureen Wells, and Keith Clymer.
There are many Christmas traditions I remember as a child and I continued with my children. For this week’s “Remember When” question, what popular snack (without the butter and salt) was strung together with a needle and string to decorate a Christmas tree? E-mail your answers to firstname.lastname@example.org, call 541-296-4788, or mail it with a bag of cranberries which was a common addition to add to the string.
Well, that’s another week – spinning my wheels on the icy road of life. Until we meet again, let the sleigh bells ring; the treetops glisten, and your heart be light – as I wish you all a very Merry Christmas.
“Unless we make Christmas an occasion to share our blessings, all the snow in Alaska won’t make it ‘white’.” Bing Crosby