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Jun-16-2012 17:50printcomments

Aging Without Raging: It's Perseverance Plus!

Human potential is ageless, whatever its source. Never minimize that maxim.

Age tree

(SALEM) - All of us age by degrees. It is not an overnight process. Nevertheless, we seem conditioned to ignore this life reality and indulge in a game called Manana-itis. We tend to be in denial. After 33 years of counseling older folks and teaching the subject at a Southwest College, I'd like to share some helpful insights so we can achieve aging with either raging or sinking into depression. Adequate prep keeps us in step. Retirement marks a crucial landmark for many. We know well what we are retiring from, but our next destination is often guesswork. Here are some relevant issues we need to confront:

  • PEER SUPPORTS: When we leave the workplace, who will form our new support system? For some new retirees, this transition constitutes a major challenge.
  • TIMEFRAME CHANGES: Workers are governed as a rule by the clock: arrival, meetings, breaks, lunchtime, departure. Once you're on your own, that becomes your call to make. Many of us are not used to self-scheduling and handling our new set of demands.
  • DOMESTIC DUTIES: He or she who retires first usually handles the bulk of household chores and the newest retiree is expected to share these duties. The allocation of such tasks may spur conflict, especially if the male species resists "getting domesticated".
  • FULL-TIME SPOUSEHOOD: If we used our work to create a buffer to our marriage mate, retirement can be a rude awakening. Social roles quickly change with little concern for orientation. Re-entry into f/t marriage often involves major adjustment for both parties.
  • PRIORITY ACTIVITIES: Never expect pre-retirement plans to pan out entirely. Instead it's closer to reality to do some options but not others. Friends and family may try to steer you in other directions. Best be prepared to compromise at times.

Our health status plays a huge part in decision-making. The body parts age at differing rates just the same way our cars break down one part of a time. It makes more sense to focus on what we can still use effectively rather than get stuck in mourning some functional decline. This is really the time of life to test our adaptation skills, how well we switch gears. Finally, let's keep up communicating with the Younger Generation and not isolate ourselves with other elderly people exclusively. We need to avoid being arrogant to young folks and not get trapped in pretending that senior citizens are super-smart and "know all the answers". Each and every generation has its own unique wisdom to share. Human potential is ageless, whatever its source. Never minimize that maxim. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- NOTE: Lee Coyne taught at both N. Va. Community College and Eastern NM University and did counseling for the Polk County Mental Health Clinic.

______________________________________________________ Community Writer Barry Lee Coyne brings to our readers stories from his combined career of journalism and gerontology, and explains that these paths shaped his values. Lee Coyne once worked for The Civil Service Leader in NY State and covered the Legislature. He has also done features on mediation and arbitration, and believes in healthy skepticism. This writer-therapist often views the world as the masks of comedy and tragedy placed upon the scales of justice. For him, optimism inevitably wins. "Lyrical Lee" has traveled to 30 nations aboard and was once a press intern at the UN. His first published article was in The NY Daily News in '59, dealing with the need for integrity in public office.

He also launched the nation's first tele-conference on health education for shut-ins, created the Eldermentors project in VA to pair retirees with immigrant students needing role models, and was the main catalyst behind CCTV's "Public Public" panel show here in Salem. Lee received his BA in International Relations and an MSW in community organization. He currently serves as a member of Salem's Library Advisory Board. To send Lee an email, please write to this address:



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