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Looking Forward to Being
Very, Very, Very, Old, Part One
By Barrington H. Brennen

2001

 

Question: I am sixty years old and looking forward to reaching eighty years, however, it seems that old people are so sickly. I am beginning to fear getting old. Are my fears justifiable? Some people are already saying I am old, but I think I really look youthful. Do I really have anything to worry about? Sign: Getting Old.

Answer: Dear Getting Old at sixty! Wow! You are still young! I am hoping that at 100, I will be kicking footballs and still having coital interactions with my wife. I have 53 more years to go. Many are really not looking forward to old age. Others are presently not coping well with the sunset years. Some families do not treat their elderly family members with respect and care. Today, many persons do not which to reach the age of 70 or 80. Many have a false concept of what life is at 65, and family members usually neglect their elderly parents. Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen said "I have been praying for three years to drop dead before I am eighty." Could it be that many fear old age because of lack of care and the difficult times they have during their sunset years? The Bible uses imagery to describe Godís people and the elderly when Isaiah writes: "The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar of Lebanon. They shall bring forth fruit in old age: they shall be . . . . flourishing." Old age can be fruitful.

MYTHS ABOUT OLD AGE
There are certain myths about old age that we need to dispel. Let me mention a few. Many believe that senility is synonymous with old age. This is not true. In fact senility can be prevented. It is believed that those persons who do not develop themselves mentally and remain illiterate are more prone to become senile than those who are mentally active and discipline. Secondly, I have heard people say to elderly persons who are suffering from arthritis and rheumatism that they are not to worry "thatís natural, youíre old." This again is not necessarily so. In fact there are many people under the age of 40 who are having these diseases. It is not old age, but many time stress on life or even poor living habits, including a poor diet, that causes these illnesses at any age.  
 
Thirdly, many believe that old age brings and indolent, repressive lifestyle. This is not true. Yes, we do know that the older we get, the body tissues become less efficient in performing function. However, it does not mean that we will become automatically physically incapacitated or mentally deranged. Two months ago Hilda Crooks, who climbed up the 14,495-foot Mount Whitney at least 24 times between ages 66 and 91, and died at 101. She began jogging at age 72. At age 82, she ran the 1500 meters in 10 minutes 58 second in the Senior Olympics. At age 95 she continued to walk two miles a day. I was privileged to participate with her in a walk-a-thon when she was 93 years old. She was the oldest in the group of five thousand, and she kept up with those in the top one-third. Just a few months ago the oldest active barber and beautician in the world celebrated their birthdays. The oldest beautician is 100 years old. One of her customers who was attending her salon for 70 years said that she would not go to anyone else. Who would? The oldest barber at age 98 is still cutting hair for the young and the old. Who said that old age means an end to vitality and joyous living?
 
Dr. Harold M. S. Richards, the founder of the longest running religious program on ZNS Radio, Bahamas, was a very active man up to his death at the age of 96. While in his nineties, he read the Bible at least twice yearly, walked at least a mile a day, and was mentally alert. Earl Night and Gale once spoke of a woman who at eighty suffered a major heart attack. After she recovered successfully, she came across a magazine that dealt with the value of exercise and proper diet. Believe it or not, this eighty-year-old woman began jogging for the first time in her life, changed her diet to a more wholesome one, and avoided all meats and refined products. After a few years of this lifestyle, the doctors could not find any evidence that she ever had a heart attack. She was vigorous and strong. She made a lifestyle change at eighty and was still going strong at ninety-five. Who said old age is dull and boring and a terrible time of life?

This poem is most appropriate by H. S. Fritsch

Age is a quality of mind;
If you have left your dreams behind,
IF hope is cold,
If your ambition fires are dead,
If you no longer look ahead,
Then you are old!
 
But if from life you take the best,
And if in life you keep your jest,
If love your hold,
No matter how the birthdays fly,
No matter how the years go by,
You are NOT old!
GOOD ATTITUDE
Dear friend, you need not feat getting old. Your attitude, philosophy, and outlook on life will determine how zestful and bright you will be in the very mature age of life. Here is an example that defies the seemingly impossible. The Hunza people located in the health and youth wonderland of the Himalayan Shangri-la, a green gem set in the Karakoram Range, called Pakistan, have found the secret of sound health and habits. They are happy people who believe that 100 years is normal old age. Diseases and obesity are virtually unknown there. Crime and delinquency are nonexistent in this peaceful land. "Perhaps Hunza gave birth to the dream of eternal youth. It is a place where people have discovered the richness of a graceful and natural life in perfect harmony with nature. I have seen pictures of Hunza men, all 100 and older actively playing volley ball in the sun. Once again I ask the question: Who said that old age means absence of youthfulness? Perhaps old age might be the unwillingness to be youthful."
 
HOPE
Here is more hope for the aging. As recent as January 13, 1998, the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center (UTSMC) said that they have discovered a cellular "fountain of youth" that enables human cells to avoid normal aging and cell death. "Normally a human cell has a finite life span, dividing only so many times before it dies. But the researchers found that by adding an enzyme called telomerase to the chromosomes of cells, the cells continue to divide and show not sings of aging or dying" (CNN January 13, 1998). Dr. Jerry Shay of UTSMC said that "the process may increase the normal health span, but not the normal life span" we are not saying that this will give people something to make them live longer . . . But they will be able to live healthy longer.

It is time that we take a new look at aging.   Go to Part Two

 

 

 
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Permission is granted place links to these articles on social media like Google+, FaceBook, etc..    Permission is also granted to print these pages and to make the necessary copies for your  personal use, friends,  seminar, or meeting handout.  You must not sell for personal gain, only to cover the cost to make copies if necessary.    Written permission (email) is needed to publish or reprint articles and materials in any other form.   Articles written by Barrington H. Brennen, Counseling Psychologist, Marriage & Family Therapist.  P.O. Box CB-13019,  Nassau, The Bahamas.   
 
 question@soencouragement.org or barringtonbrennen@gmail.com  Phone contact is 242-327 1980.   
 
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