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/ A W A R E N E S S M A G A Z I N E
J U LY / A U G U S T 2 0 1 1
42 / A W A R E N E S S M A G A Z I N E
J U LY / A U G U S T 2 0 1 1
By Robert Ross
The aging process has you
firmly in its grasp if you never
get the urge to throw a snow-
--doug larson
So what's it like being . . .
older than your doctor . . . older
than your dentist . . . older than
the postman . . . older than the
president . . . the oldest person
in a class you're taking . . . older
than (fill in the blank)? What's
it like being considered old or
elderly by commonly accepted
standards? It's . . . well . . . read
The Boomers are just now
beginning to cross the finish
line into retirement -- applying
for Social Security and Medi-
care, and expecting the perfunc-
tory 10% discount at various
shops around town. I'm at the
vanguard of that generation,
having been born in 1946. Of-
ficially, Boomerism spans birth
years from 1946 to 1964.
Just how many Boomers are
there? Way too many according
to some statisticians who are
crunching the numbers. There
are an estimated 79 million
Baby Boomers right behind me.
Beginning January 1st, 2011 ev-
ery single day more than 10,000
Baby Boomers will reach the age
of 65. Ten thousand, every single
day for the next 19 years!
According to a recent U.S.
government report, entitlement
programs such as Social Securi-
ty and Medicare -- plus interest
costs on the U.S. national debt
-- will absorb approximately
92 cents of every single dollar
of federal revenue by the year
2019. That leaves eight cents of
every single dollar to be spent on
everything else.
Politically, both the left and
the right agree that this com-
ing massive increase in retirees
is going to cause some serious
budget problems -- a discussion
we will have in a future Reflex-
ions column.
Art Linkletter appropriately
titled his book: Old Age is Not
for Sissies. The title speaks vol-
umes. Getting older is a process,
a process of accepting a myriad
of age-related challenges (health,
emotional, financial), a growing
self awareness of aches, pains,
bumps, bruises (and a few other
maladies); and the need for an
ongoing willingness to negotiate
through this maze.
When I'm out in the commu-
nity, I'm constantly reminded of
my "elderly" status. At stores,
the gym or wherever there's a
door, a younger person may
dart ahead to open the door for
me (as though I couldn't do that
for myself). Or, use of the word
"sir," in an attempt to show re-
I am at the "early elderly"
age, where life seems to be a
never-ending challenge, con-
stantly "adjusting" to stay in
the game. Over the past couple
of years, I've developed some
game strategies: Hard to under-
stand people from time to time?
-- just smile and nod at what
appears to be the appropriate
moment. Memory not what it
used to be? Oh well.
Knee gets sore when I do
such and such? Just don't do
such and such. Night driving
seems to be more challenging?
Avoid driving at night. Using the
word "what" constantly? Contin-
ue the use of the word, know-
ing that the time to "invest" in a
hearing aid is approaching.
Forgetful? Oh well. Sleep not
what it used to be? Oh well. Pull
a muscle here, strain a ligament
there? -- make another doctor's
appointment or visit the local
pharmacy for the latest anti-
inflammatory. And on and on
and on. The mantra seems to be:
adjust, adjust, adjust, . . . then
keep on keeping on!
There are some benefits (ac-
tually, one worth mentioning) to
being "early elderly." The finish
line is clearly in sight, which
can be motivating. Have I done
the things I wanted to do in life?
Have I seen the world? Had the
experiences I wanted to have? If
not, the clock is ticking -- rather
I recall when I was growing
up, the phrase was: older people
had wisdom. Wisdom? Ah . . .
I can barely spell the word. I
think it's fair to say though, that
older people have had a myriad
of life experiences. And, older
people have become comfort-
able with themselves and their
beliefs. And, lastly, older peo-
ple have less of a need to prove
themselves. Does that add up to
wisdom? Hmm . . . . not quite
At the same time though, a
study reported by the American
Psychological Association (APA)
reveals that older adults are 10
times more likely to remember
false information -- and believe
it's true -- than younger adults.
Memory loss and aging are facts
of life. There are a host of acro-
nyms to describe the phenom-
ena: AMI -- age-related memory
impairment or AAMI -- age-
associated memory impairment,
and MCI -- mild cognitive im-
pairment, to name a few.
Researchers also learned that
older adults who were tested did
not remember test information
correctly and did not know their
answers were incorrect. This
combination of not remember-
ing correctly and being unwill-
ing to admit there's a problem
can make older adults especially
vulnerable to scam artists.
Memory loss in older adults
is not inevitable though. The
brain is capable of producing
new brain cells at any stage in
life. What's the old saying? Use
it or lose it!
And so it goes; the unavoid-
able: death and taxes. In the
meantime, aside from checking
the Obituaries daily, having most
conversations -- with friends
and relatives -- start with health
issues, life goes on. Truthfully,
I'm not looking forward to all of
the issues that go with aging.
But, I do have a magic bul-
let, one that has been with me
my entire life; exercise. A walk,
a swim, a trip to the gym, will
be, and has always been the
antidote to many of life's chal-
lenges. As one older guy once
told me: "keep moving . . . you
gotta keep moving."
In the meantime there's a lot
of living to do: a National Geo-
graphic trip to Alaska scheduled
for June, a trip to the Adriatic
in the fall, and if my knees are
willing, a few ski trips planned
for the winter. Keep on keeping
Robert Ross can be reached by e-
mail at:
Copyright 2011 by Robert Ross, all rights reserved
By Jesse Anson Dawn
Each time a man
stands up for an ideal...
he sends forth a tiny
ripple of hope..."
-- Robert F. Kennedy