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Local lifestyle columnists

It takes some effort to stay forever young

By From page A2 | May 15, 2014

Age is a condition that affects all of us and no matter what we say, eventually we’re all interested in what happens to us age-wise.

“When we are young, we consider ourselves to be essentially ageless,” someone once said. If truth be told, I thought that getting old happened to others, not to me. But when we pass a certain age, it can become one of our favorite preoccupations.

The cosmetic world is well aware of this.

Everywhere you look – online, TV, stores and our mailboxes – there are advertisements for all kinds of expensive age-defying creams and potions touting staying forever young. Alas, the majority of these products don’t pan out, as seen by all the products in our medicine cabinets and bathrooms. Eventually, we toss it all aside and look for something else that will work for us this time for sure.

“Women are not forgiven for aging. Robert Redford’s lines of distinction are my old-age wrinkles,” actress Jane Fonda once said.

I recently asked Ray Johnson, retired military officer and business executive, his thoughts on aging. He referenced a conversation on the radio with the acclaimed singer Johnny Mathis, who is now 79 years old.

“Mathis is active, still performs occasionally and has a number of personal interests and hobbies. He is a prime example of graceful aging,” Johnson said, “which is what the aging process should be about.”

One of my favorite quotations on aging is one made by Lillian Carter, mother of former President Jimmy Carter: “Sure, I’m for helping the elderly. I’m going to be old myself someday,” spoken when she was in her 80s.

Johnson continued: “In America, the aging process is often not faced squarely because of denial and unrealistic expectations that you can do things the same way over time.”

Here are some of the tips he believes will help us stay healthy, alert and engaged over the long haul:

  • Make the right choices in eating.
  • Build your mind with interesting and practical hobbies.
  • Maintain a sensible daily exercise program.
  • Stay engaged with family and friends. Go to parties and mix with people of all ages.
  • Show respect for all ages and expect respect in return. Stand up for your customer service rights if you feel that you are being dismissed because you are older.
  • Be a team leader and partner with your physician to ensure that you get the best possible health outcomes.
  • Avoid people and groups that spend their time condemning the world and finding fault.
  • Look for opportunities to serve in the community. Just showing up can inspire people.
  • Look for the good in people and you will find the good in yourself.
  • Laughter is good medicine. We shouldn’t take ourselves too seriously.

Fairfield resident John Alexander said getting older can have its good points and also challenges. It mostly depends on how you plan for those senior years, he said.

“In my family, we tend to live longer, so early on I began to prepare financially,” he said.

After a major health scare, he began to eat a more nutritious diet, became more active and added a daily exercise program. It’s never to late to start, he said.

Alexander also strongly believes that church attendance can have a positive affect on one’s outlook on life.

“Keeping all of these things in mind, I’m enjoying my senior years,” he said.

I received an email this week from retired Fairfield-Suisun School District teacher Linda Brinkman, who worked for me at K.I. Jones Elementary School, thanking me for her birthday card. She now lives in Walnut Creek.

“Since I turned 73 years old this month, I think that we are slowing down physically as it is just the way life goes, but our calendars do not look like they are empty,” she said.

I know she regularly volunteers in her granddaughter’s first-grade classroom, and she and her 83-year-old husband Bill are world travelers: They plan to visit four more states later this year.

Food for thought: “Age is something that doesn’t matter, unless you are a cheese,” actress Billie Burke once said. I couldn’t agree more.

Mayrene Bates is a trustee on the Solano County Board of Education. Reach her at [email protected]

Mayrene Bates

Mayrene Bates is a trustee with the Solano County Board of Education.

Discussion | 1 comment

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  • Rich GiddensMay 15, 2014 - 9:13 am

    ''Avoid groups that find fault'''---does this mean your resigning from the NAACP? Just askin'!

    Reply | Report abusive comment
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