Later Life Ramblings, April 1

Local contributor Shirley Lowe tells us about closeness and friendship.

Shirley Lowe

Springtime comes to rescue us from the Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) syndrome that can overtake some of us in the months before some serious sun.  A new outlook is possible when we are able to find joy in the new buds, flowers, birds, greenness and longer brighter days. It is good to get outdoors, socialize and “re-season.”

Professor Verena  Menec, director of aging at the University of Manitobia, says, “The fact that people live longer should be celebrated as one of the biggest success stories in history and getting old is better than the alternative.” Her question was – How do seniors contribute to society?  The answer: Like any younger person. They shop, use services which employ people, pay taxes and vote. They also volunteer and make more charitable donations per capita than any other age group. She reminds us that seniors baby sit, help care for grandchildren, do housework, home maintenance, mechanics and yard work for others as well. They provide emotional support and friendship. Seniors provide care for spouses or friends.

The wife takes on more and more responsibilities inside and outside the home as the husband starts to get frail.  As well there are husbands who take care of a wife who has Alzheimer’s and requires care and constant reminders.  He makes sure she gets dressed, eats properly, takes her medications and keeps her life as normal as possible.  Because of him she is not a “burden” on the health care system.

Professor Menec believes that acknowledging seniors’ contributions would create a more age-inclusive society.

Margaret Mead wrote of the importance of grandparents, that, “the closest friends I have made all through life have been people who also grew up close to a loved and loving grandmother or grandfather.”  Many happy childhood memories we all carry, if we were fortunate to have grandparents, was time spent with them. In Armand Eisen’s 1998 book, A Tribute to Grandmothers, actress and hollywood icon of the 1940s Billie Burke is quoted saying, “Age is something that doesn’t matter, unless you are a cheese. There are two ways of spreading light – to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.”

Happy Spring!

Shirley Lowe

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