Aging Well July 30th 2013

You see them advertised in magazines and on television: vitamin supplements, exercise contraptions or plastic surgery – products that will turn back the hands of time.

 These misleading claims about the benefits of anti-aging products or services have been described by Colin Milner, CEO of the International Council on Active Aging (ICAA) as ‘graywashing” – reinforcing the idea that age-related changes in physical appearance are undesirable and should be removed.

 But besides being deceptive, “graywashing“ also strengthens the stereotypes that show older adults through a lens of decline and diminished value; and that old age is “bad” characterized by illness, decline and a strain on social services and economies worldwide.

 But on the other end of the stereotype continuum, you often hear reports about “Super Seniors” reflecting old age as “good” and who exhibit our cultural values of independence, youthfulness, and productivity. (Such as the late Jack LaLanne who was still doing his two hour workout at the age of 95.)

 But let’s get real. Neither is the whole picture. As much as some advertisers would like you to believe, there is no such thing as anti-aging. We start aging from the day we are born and although there are actions we can take to maintain a healthy lifestyle, there isn’t a Shangri-La or Fountain of Youth to hold back the forces of time forever.

 But we can avoid internalizing these self-limiting stereotypes while maintaining a balanced and realistic view of aging – reflecting the challenges and burdens of getting older, while also embracing the opportunities and blessings.

You don’t have to be eternally blonde, or skydive with George W.H. Bush at the age of 80 and 85! or be free of physical challenges – to be engaged in life, resilient and capable of living a life of meaning and purpose.

Every single day I meet people with real stories and life experiences; who possess diverse interests, talents, opinions and yes, physical challenges; that include a few saints, several curmudgeons, but no Jack LaLanne “Super Seniors”.

Just authentic people who are showing me how to age with grace, dignity and humility while facing their fair share of daily challenges. (And no matter what anyone says I still think grey is “hot”! But then it may just be my age.)

 When you turn 65, whether you are retired, still working or receiving Social Security, you need to understand your Medicare options. (You have only seven months to enroll: three months before the month you turn 65, the month you turn 65 and three months after you turn 65.) And now during anytime of the year, if you have questions, which most people do, you can call Shirley Ludlow, your local SHIBA (Senior Health Insurance Benefits Assistance) coordinator at the Area Agency on Aging (541-298-4101), to set up an appointment with one of the trained SHIBA volunteers. Or you can call the Center directly and they will connect you with one of the volunteers that take appointments at the Center.

 Tonight playing at the Center is Truman who is filling in for the previously scheduled Sugar Daddies. (We will try to reschedule the Sugar Daddies for later in the year.) And next Tuesday on August 7th we start back at the top of the batting order with the Strawberry Mountain Band. Doors open at 6:00, music starts at 7:00 and everyone is invited. A suggested donation of $2.00 per person or $3.00 a couple is always appreciated. 

Patrick Macnee, the sophisticated English secret agent John Steed, and Diana Rigg, his talented assistant with “man appeal” starred in the British series “The Avengers”. (And the winner of a free August 16th Saturday Breakfast is Marcia Lacock.)

This week’s “Remember When” question is about a duplicating devise often found in schools, libraries and churches that printed multiple copies of images in a light purple ink, but fell victim to the Xerox copier in the 1970’s. (I particularly remember in grade school wanting to smell the sweet chemical aroma of the damp newly produced copies.) What was the name of this machine that was easy to use, inexpensive to purchase and produced many pop quizzes for young school children? Mail your answer to, call 541-296-4788 or send it with a box of two ply spirit masters.

 Well, it has been another week trying to keep the right perspective in a three dimensional world. Until we meet again, keep your head up, your feet moving and your hands waving to the crowd.

“You can’t help getting older, but you don’t have to get old.” George Burns

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