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HEALTH   -   SENIORS
Ann on Aging
November, 2004 - Issue #2
My friend Cyndi in Santa Barbara recently sent me an e-mail (gloatingly) informing me she had been carded when she went to the store in sweats and no makeup. Let me preface this by saying that Cyndi is tall, lanky and looks a lot younger than her 48 years. I have begged and bribed cashiers to ask for my driver's license, to no avail. And now here's gorgeous Cyndi getting carded. Of course, one recourse might be to move to Santa Barbara. The clerks are probably trained to ask for identification so the wealthy women will come back again and again.

Age is a state of mind...or is it? My thanks to those of you who called or sent e-mails of appreciation for my column - except for the one woman who called and stated rather nastily, "What do you know about aging - you can't be more than 45." Well, thanks for giving a damn. I know a lot about aging, I'm 56, mother of four grown children and grandma to three little ones. For many years I've worked in the long-term-care insurance field and have seen, heard and am now experiencing a lot about aging.

The subject of age and aging has always been a fascinating one to me. Many woman stop counting at age 39. When I reached 50 I thought perhaps we could start a new precedent and count backwards. Surely this is a concept worth some consideration.

How naive I was thinking the second 50 years would be even better than the first! Little did I know how quickly our biological time clock takes over, almost on this inherent predestined schedule. The week I turned 40 I needed bifocals. And there was something magical about waking on my 50th birthday knowing that I was now at the age when I could schedule my first colonoscopy.

I know I sound pessimistic, but I wish, as do most of us, that I could have known then what I know now. I have a sign on my desk that reminds me that humor is the soul's weapon in the unfairness of life. Simple, profound and oh, so true.

This brings me to the subject at hand - laughter, aging and state of mind. The phrase "Laughter is the best medicine" has a lot of merit. I read once that it takes three times as many muscles to frown as it does to laugh. Thus, in the spirit of self-preservation, we have no alternative than to grin and bear it. Notice I didn't say "bare it." In my case that's too scary a thought.

Why is it that women bear children, often work outside the home and juggle 10 projects at the same time with grace and a spirit of calmness (thank God for Prozac), and still manage to live longer than men? Let's talk about unfairness in life. Did I miss something here? How horribly rude of our partners and soul mates to die just when the fun is starting. And here we are left alone with a dozen macaroni and cheese dinners in the freezer and boxes of pictures that we now have the time to put into scrapbooks.

When I turned 50 I joined AARP. My husband was aghast that he should join at the tender age of 48. " I'm too young to be AARPed," he exclaimed. Why is it that we fight growing old? There's something exciting about reaching 55 and getting to order off the senior menu at Denny's. Although I have yet to take advantage of this offer, it is certainly high on my list of fun things to do as I mature.

So, why the obsession about age? At a recent seminar for senior-related services, I asked one of the speakers what age a person has to be in order to achieve senior citizen status. "Fifty," she answered, which immediately sent me into a tailspin. It's one thing to look at our laugh lines and know we have earned every one of them, and another to admit that we even have them. Honesty is really the best policy, and between you and me, this is not a dress rehearsal, so keep happy and keep smiling

Ann Fogle welcomes comments from readers. E-mail her at azfogleins@comcast.net or call 259-5773.
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