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Age Gracefully

A Funny Thing Happened On My Way To Work....I Retired
A Guide From Work to Life
by Steve Kiefer

Age successfully. What do I mean by this? As we begin to recognize retirement as simply another event occurring in our life, much like our wedding and career choice was, we begin to understand the fact that we can control many aspects of it. While it is true you can't stop the aging process, it is also true you can maintain a fulfilling lifestyle in spite of circumstances beyond your control. Some of you reading this may have already begun to see physical maladies creeping in. Even with the advances in medicine, aging is unstoppable buy not unbearable. How so? By aging successfully.

A person who ages successfully will:

  • Remain physically, socially, and mentally active.

Some people make excuses, as they get older claiming they're too old to try something new or too old to handle something new. Ruth Rothfarb probably won't sympathize. At age 72, she decided to start running for exercise. At age 80, she entered her first marathon (26.2 miles). By age 89, she had run 10 marathons! Ruth claims that she has the same aches and pains that everyone her age experiences but says that running keeps her healthy and distracts her from the aches.

As you can see there is more to retirement than fishing and playing golf. Look into community opportunities. Join the traveling Bar-B-Q circuit where people compete for prizes based on their cooking abilities. Find an old junk car and learn how to restore it. Join a motorcycle club. Run a marathon. You get the idea.

  • Compensate for age-related changes.

Remember Gracie Allen, who played the scatterbrained wife in a comedy team with her husband George Burns? In one routine, Gracie called in a repairman to fix her electric clock. The repairman fiddled with it for a while and then told her, "There's nothing wrong with the clock; you just didn't have it plugged in." Gracie replied, "I don't want to waste electricity, so I only plug it in when I want to know what time it is."

Wouldn't it be nice if we could simply unplug from the aging process every once in a while? Unfortunately, reality won't let us and so we keep getting older. When you find that you can't do things as well as you once did, don't quit! Compensate! Look for the alternative. If you can't play softball any more, coach it. (I coach my daughter's fast pitch team and love it). If you can't run, walk. If you can't play golf (I'm dangerous with a golf club), then play bingo. If you can't play, work.

When I discuss things like this, I am reminded of a funny story I heard when I was in Seminary. There was an old black cotton picker working in the hot sun. One day his back was hurting, the sun was beating down on him, he was tired and thirsty and just plain worn out. He finally turned to his companion and said, "If it gets any hotter, I swear I'm going to hear God call me to preach!" At least the cotton-picker wasn't willing to quit working; he just wanted a change of vocation. Don't quit; compensate.

In the comic, Dennis the Menace, Mr. Wilson tell Dennis that he (Mr. Wilson), was once just like him. Dennis can't wait to share this with his friend Joey. He explains to Joey that Mr. Wilson got dirty and had fights and stole cookies and broke things, etc., just the way Dennis did. To which his friend replies, "Gee! He sounds like a regular fella! I wonder where he went wrong?"

Where do some people go wrong? When they refuse to accept aging as a part of life. This is a serious mistake. It is both amusing and sad to see so many "fountain of youth" products hit the market every day. The American Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons estimates that 2800 certified surgeons annually perform 477,000 "esthetic" operations: optional procedures to make people look and feel better. (By the way, this survey was conducted in 1992. I didn't have room to put today's numbers in the book. (Just kidding).

Remember, every young person will someday be an old person (if they are fortunate). I'm certainly not advocating that you stop taking care of yourself. If a miracle-cream can bleach away those age spots, great. Just learn to roll with the punches. Phyllis Diller said she was in a beauty contest once. "I not only came in last," she said, "I was hit in the mouth by Miss Congeniality"...Roll.

  • Have a sense of control over their lives.

As I have said, money can't buy happiness, but it can give you choices. Having choices means having control. We all like being in control to a certain degree.

A Funny Thing Happened On My Way To Work... I Retired
A Guide From Work to Life
by Steve Kiefer

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