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Real Answers™
Copyright: © 2004 Donald E. Lindman
550 words


By: Don Lindman


An aging friend of mine has a cliché he applies to much of life, including getting older: “It’s a question of mind over matter; if I don’t mind, it don’t matter.”

Broadcasting legend Hugh Downs expresses similar feelings in more sophisticated terms: “A happy person is not one in a certain set of circumstances, but one with a certain set of attitudes.”

“When I was young,” Downs says, “I thought Browning’s famous words – ‘grow old along with me; the best is yet to be’ – were nonsense. Now I know that he was right.”

In Downs’ experience there are a number of advantages to aging. One is that you have developed techniques for coping with life. Another is that usually there is an increase in the quality of life and a deeper appreciation for things you earlier took for granted.

Aging also means that successful projects can be enjoyed three ways: in planning, in doing, and in looking back on the success and savoring it.

In biblical times the elderly were highly regarded for their wisdom and experience. Today, older people are considered to be behind the times and a burden to society. Even though senior adults are an increasing segment of society in control of a significant portion of our national disposable income, automakers are phasing out “old people’s cars” in favor of models that appeal to the young, and advertisers are directing their pitches to the 18-35 age group.

Downs feels he understands why much advertising is aimed at 18-35 year olds. “Older people are too smart to be taken in by the malarkey of the ads,” he grins.

Contrary to what for centuries has been common wisdom, medical researchers are now discovering that muscle cells, nerve cells, and brain cells can be rejuvenated even in older people. Physical exercise and mental stimulation are being recognized as activities crucial to senior health and longevity.

But even the medical community needs to be “retrained” when it comes to the health and potential of older people. Downs relates the story of a 102-year old man who went to the doctor with a bad knee.

“Henry, what do you expect?” asked the physician. “You’re getting old, you know.”

The old man answered, “But, Doc, my other knee is also 102, and it isn’t hurting.”

Mind over matter; that’s a spiritual issue. “Be transformed through the renewing of your mind,” urged St. Paul.

I’m approaching my 71st birthday, and as I age I’m becoming increasingly aware of my own mortality. Life here is good, and I’m in no hurry to leave. But the countdown continues, and when I leave it will be for heaven. That’s a great position to be in; since I don’t mind, my aging “don’t matter.”

In the meantime I enjoy a longer and larger perspective on life. As a Sports Illustrated writer wrote about an aging athlete: “One advantage of getting older is you get to see how things turn out.”

I’m seeing more of how things turn out with each passing year. I find myself looking at events and issues over which younger people, without the perspective of age, get worked up. My reaction? Frequently it’s “been there, seen that,” and I know the future won’t be nearly as bad as we fear it will be.

"Real Answers™" furnished courtesy of The Amy Foundation Internet Syndicate. To contact the author or The Amy Foundation, write or E-mail to: P. O. Box 16091, Lansing, MI 48901-6091;

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