When Facing Your Sunset Years, Keep The Light Bright 


I won’t name names, but many younger people believe I, now nearly 90, should be hidden away. Maybe vegetating in the hallway of a nursing home drooling on my butt exposed hospital gown and soiling my adult diapers. 

However, thanks to good genes, daily exercise, modest boozing, no smoking and just plain damn good luck, I still consider myself part of functioning society. Not that I was always wise about it. I tried smoking at age 12 to look cool. After an entire pack, my eyes and throat hurt like hell, and I never smoked again. 

At age 18 and just out of Navy boot camp, I once drank myself into unconsciousness and was sick for two days. I limit myself to an occasional brandy these days. Of course, when I was young I considered everyone over 40 ancient, and those over 60 doddering. Age 89? Nobody lives that long!

I see the latest movies … enjoy some, tolerate others and hate a few. As for modern music, I hate all of it. I appreciate the ever-improving electronic doodads. I can cover ears and eyes, and enjoy my kind of music, reading and movies undisturbed at home, on daily hikes, in flight or anywhere else I choose.

After retiring at age 65, I worked daily for ten years at a community center. I helped with old folks’ activities, and worked with youth groups. To my surprise, I enjoyed the teens more. It was because my kids were out on their own. I missed them, and mingling with other teens softened the loneliness.

Do I have any advice for other senior survivors? Enjoy your sunset years by keeping mentally and physically active. And, maybe more important, work at something challenging. 

Volunteer at a health facility, social agency or school. Golf, swim and/or do aerobics. If you’re wheelchair bound, get out of the house as often as possible and enjoy mixing with people, both young and old. For example, many wheelchaired seniors volunteer with wounded vets at military hospitals.

If any whippersnapper criticizes you or makes fun of your efforts to stay active, just say you survived it all and are enjoying your sunset years. It isn’t quite as satisfying as, “Shut the hell up,” but you must remember that we elderly are expected to be dignified at all times.


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