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AGING: Elderly years are well worth living

Thought this aging column would be a short term project of little impact. Little did I know. Of course, it only adds to a long list of things I don't know. It has been most enjoyable to write and even more so to receive the favorable response. Ma...

Thought this aging column would be a short term project of little impact. Little did I know.

Of course, it only adds to a long list of things I don't know. It has been most enjoyable to write and even more so to receive the favorable response. Many readers have volunteered positive comments about this effort; at first I thought it was only a few good friends being kind and considerate. Thank you very much! We are all aging, and this column is another example of getting back more than you give.

One recent example is a friend's loan of a new recently purchased book, "Healthy Aging," by Andrew Weil, M.D. I had been aware of Dr. Weil, but had not read any of his 10 books. In his introduction, he uses the following lines that another friend had recently called to my attention, too:

The sun at noon is the sun declining;

The person born is the person dying.

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At first blush, that may seem to be a depressing comment -- especially to folks at a younger stage in life. Friends and relatives of yesteryear -- and I certainly did not spend much time considering the fact that we were dying. Not the most pleasant subject in the prime of life. Yet, it is true, and we would be wise to keep that end goal in mind. As the wag was heard to say, "If I had known I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself."

And wouldn't we all? We should keep that good behavior in mind without becoming obsessed, of course. (An economic side light, at tax time; we hear that the younger generation are not good savers. That requires looking ahead too, as we all should have done and should continue to do.)

Another point that Dr. Weil made that I'd heard before, but hadn't given it a lot of thought: He wrote that research indicates our abilities begin to deteriorate after age 60. As he rather indelicately put it, "The hard fact is that aging will bring unpleasant changes, among them, aches and pains, decreased vigor, healing ability, sensory acuity, muscle tone, bone density and sexual energy, memory deficits, wrinkles, loss of beauty, friends, family and independence, increased reliance on doctors and pills; and social isolation. (Not an encouraging word for a former Montana resident where the skies are not cloudy all day and the deer and the antelope play.) I can tell you at age 83 that he hit many nails right on the head, but life can still be very much worth living.

I hope that younger readers (and there are some I discovered) are as lucky as I have been to reach this age. It isn't all luck, and that is why the subject of aging is popular; even younger folks are interested in knowing more about the days ahead. After Dr. Weil's hard facts -- let's close with a Prayer for the Day:

So far today, I've done all right

I haven't gossiped and I haven't lost my temper.

I haven't been grumpy, nasty or selfish.

But in a few minutes, I'm going to get out of bed,

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and that's when I'm going to need a lot of help.

Bernie Hughes, Ed.D., is a retired educator who resides in Superior.

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