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Soured on Senescence

Senior couples drinking coffee

I live among old people. I’m one of them. 87 years old. That’s the average age of Assisted Living Facility (ALF) residents. Pretty accurate in our ALF: many in the eighty decade, several nonagenarians, one centenarian + 2 or 3 years. Quite an assortment of Geezers and Gezzerettes. No wonder I feel old!

But not everywhere.

I belong to a Men’s Kaffee Klatch. Everyone is grey-haired, except those with no hair, or, at best, one or two wisps. In our rarified community, there are three or four computer scientists, two chemists, two inventors, a metallurgist, two engineers, a couple of authors, and two liberal arts professors, one of which is me. We are the formerly – Ah! What once was.

After the poorly-told, not-so-funny jokes and the mandatory male sports talk, we throw ourselves into lively, energetic, heated argument and discussions. There are oodles of humongous political, social, and cultural problems to be solved - or, at least, to be magniloquent about. I don’t feel old.

Nor do I feel old at a mature persons Continuing Education organization. Members can attend 150 lectures and discussions a year in the Arts, Sciences, Humanities, World Cultures, and Contemporary Ideas & Issues. Wow! I don’t feel old anymore. I’m mentally invigorated.

I get physically invigorated at a fitness club for the whole range of “genarians.” We have three wheelchair members – I’m one (although I walk with a cane to each machine.) Step-ups,-Nu-Step, and stationary bikes pump my heart; dumb-bells and machines build my “boulders” and “guns.” (That’s gym-rat talk.) A good night’s sleep is likely. But, who’s tired now?

For my spiritual invigoration, I attend a Bahai devotional gathering. Once more, the participants have white hair, one uses a cane and I am pushed in a wheelchair. After reading various passages from holy books of several religions, we engage in spirited discussion of the spiritual themes, and protocols for living a just life. How refreshing. How exciting. How youthful!

I understand that I feel old where I live - in the cocoon of Long Term Care (LTC), but don’t feel old – surrounded by the same demographic – in the unwrapped world. That’s why I squint at senescence?

Dick Weinman is an AARP Oregon volunteer and our ALF Guru.

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