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



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? Signed. Getting Old.

Answer: Last week we began sharing on this exciting topic. Some may have asked how is it that I could talk about such a subject when I am only 47 years old. That's the whole point. My attitude now will determine how I will approach life when I get very, very, very old. I truly cannot wait to get, very, very old. It's a time when I will be responsible to, but for no one. I will be able to leave my zipper down and people will think I am normal. I will be able to stay up all night or sleep all day. Annick, my dear wife, who edits these articles so ably each week, will be able to stay in my arms 24 hours without interruptions. We will be able to go on long trips, unconcerned about time to return home. It's going to be wonderful!

Since publishing the first part to this question last week, I have been sharing with friends and strangers about their feelings about old age. Unfortunately, many of them are not looking forward to being alive after age 65. I am convinced that this is probably a result of one S environment or observing persons who are over 65. When we think of old age, we think of arthritis, high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, Alzheimer's disease, senility, cataract, impotence, pancreatic disease, breast cancer, etc. What are the predominant characteristics of all of these diseases? They have in common pain, discomfort, and dependence on another for assistance. No one wants a life of pain and discomfort. More than that, the worst thing that can happen to someone is losing his or her independence. I think this is perhaps the number one reason why people fear old age. They do not want to call on others, family, or friends to do the normal daily routine things of life for them. But who said that old age will automatically create this? My family and I had the privilege of living in communities in Michigan, USA for about four years where many elderly citizens resided. It was a joy to see husbands and wives, over eighty years; some in the nineties and early hundreds riding bicycles, driving cars, taking brisk walks in the snow, climbing mountains, and canoeing. In fact, many times I was shocked to find out that these persons were really more than 65.

While living in Cooked Island, I met a woman who was 100 years old. She was extremely active and healthy. Each morning she would go to the field to tend her crops and return later in the day with a bundle of wood on her head for her wood stove. One day while my wife and I were visiting her, we were encouraged when this dear energetic, happy, young senior citizen said in her stable and fearless voice: "I am finished with the first century, I an' going toward the second." Now that's a positive approach to old age. Humor can also go a long way in helping us face joyfully the realities of old age. Here is a humorous poem my wonderful young father, 72, found and shared with me entitled, "Young at Heart." The author is unknown.

Young At Heart

By by Pete Seeger

How do I know my youth has been spent;
Because my get-up-and-go, got up and went.
But in spite of all that, Iím able to grin
When I think where my get-up-and-go has been.
Old age is golden, I've heard it said,
But sometimes I wonder as I go to bed,
My ears in a drawer, my teeth in a cup,
My eyes on a table until I wake up.
When I was young my slippers were red,
I could kick my heels right over my head;
When I grew older my slippers were blue,
But I could still dance the whole night thru.
Now I am old my slippers are black,
I walk to the corner and puff my way back.
The reason I know my youth is spent
My get-up-and-go got up and went.
I get up each morning, dust off my wits
Pick up the paper and read the "obits,"
If my name is missing, l know I'm not dead
So I eat a good breakfast and go back to bed.

In the Bahamas in 1996, there were 13,591 persons 65 and older, 2,401 persons 75 to 79 years old; and 2,351 persons 80 years and older. Statistics are not available for those 100 and older living in the Bahamas. About eight years ago, there were at least 40,000 people in the United States 100 years and older. It is believed that there are now more than more than 100,000 people this age. The elderly population is growing around the world. People are waiting later to retire and are becoming more involved in community activities in the retirement years of their lives.

Why not look at old age as an opportunity to share the wisdom and knowledge earned? Why not look at old age as a time to do things you always wanted to do, but did not have the time to do? Begin now to think of old age as a joy, not a pain. Develop health habits now that can reduce the risk of developing painful, degenerating diseases when you are old. The good news is that science is now stating that even osteoporosis is reversible at any age with proper diet, even in those 80 years and older.

Let us think highly of the senior citizens of our country. Let us treat them with respect and the greatest care. For one day we will be very, very, old. See you at 100!     Go to Part One




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April 26, 2000, TAGnet/NetAserve / Network Solutions

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