A commercial came out recently showing people in their 70s and 80s still in the workplace. There’s the fireman who weighs about 80 pounds, trying to handle a gigantic fire hose. We see an elder woman as a DJ while another entertains as a lounge singer. A fairly fit man runs alongside Baywatch types as a lifeguard on the beach. The thought of oldsters still working at this time is astonishing to the younger generation. Soon they’ll be walking in our shoes.
Since turning 70, we’ve attended more funerals than I care to think about. Our friends are all beginning to look si old. The mail we get now has to do with cemetery plots, will preparation and opting for cremation. Death is the final chapter of life on this earth and most of us resist it with all our hearts. Those of us who still have our memories, want to share our story with others. We feel we have something important yet to say or do. Somehow, the elderly have been pigeon holed into their own category – “over the hill,” close to “pushing up daisies” and not useful anymore.
We require more sleep. We may need help getting around. Some lose their ability to live alone and require constant attention. When the aged are moved to nursing homes it’s like the end of living for many. They’re now confined to one room. They can’t cook their own meals or tie their own shoes. They’re encouraged to participate in games and other activities, but they don’t find real joy in any of those things. They give up, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
I believe exercising our minds, just like we exercise our bodies is essential during this decade. Any kind of activity that challenges brain work, requires memory focus, makes one think spontaneously is really important. As a senior approaching the next decade in a few years, I hope to start a drama program for folks 60 and up. In my opinion this activity covers all those things. You have to be prepared, memorize, be ready to improvise, learn about your character and many other things which is like doing push ups with your brain. It also gets you on your feet and moving.
Blending the older generation with the young can also beneficial to both. The wisdom of the elderly can help the youngsters understand things going on in their lives. The youngsters can help their elders understand the new technology and share some of the things they love to do. It’s a different kind of heart condition that many in this age group concern themselves with. It allows you to give the best of yourself. If we’re going through serious illness or disability, we can’t be involved as we’d like to be, but we can still keep other in our prayers.
I sort of dread turning 80, because it used to seem like the age of endings. I wonder how much longer I have on this planet. I wonder how much worse the state of the world can get. I don’t understand how things have turned upside down in just my lifetime. Then I realize how eager I am to finish this journey and start a new one. It’s just the prologue to a new beginning – one that will last to eternity.
“My comfort is that old age, that ill layer of beauty can do no more spoil upon my face.” William Shakespeare – HENRY V
COMING NEXT – How do you stay involved in life during the seventh decade?