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December 29, 2012

It helps to face old age with a happy heart

The Daily Star

---- — How do old folks feel when it comes to living through that time in their lives? Well, I’m at the 80-year mark now, and believe me, this is not what is said to be “Golden Years” in any form whatsoever! 

Perhaps this time of our lives should be renamed to “the sunset years,” for life is diminishing, going downhill. This is the first time I’ve done this act and now I can truly relate to the elderly … I’m one of them and can truthfully say “been there … done that.”

Years ago, I recall not having too much patience with older people when I thought they should be doing better or doing more. How can anyone have complete compassion and understanding unless they have experienced that same situation?

We are somewhat disabled in so many functions, and when it comes to energy, we do a lot of praying just to be able accomplish the necessary tasks from day to day. Even that sometimes has to be put on the back burner. Tomorrow is another day but will there be another tomorrow?

But I must admit there are many perks for us. Seems like it was just yesterday when a pleasant gentleman said to me, “you first.” Then, on another occasions, a young man held the door open for me. Isn’t that nice? So refreshing.

How about the thought of snoozing all wrapped up in a warm comforter and sleeping late into the morning? There’s no alarm to jangle your nerves, no hurry to get dressed, grab a bite and zip out into the blustery cold — just relax, snuggle down and reminisce about all the wonderful things of the past.

Sometimes life seems backwards, for now we have a car that the front seats actually heat up. Feels good, but when we were younger we would have really appreciated such a convenience in the wee hours of a winter morning

Quality sleep and rest, waking up energized and raring to go is a thing of the past. Each day there are many naps, and when it comes to barometric pressure with dull, rainy days, our bodies go into agony to the point of all we want to do is crawl under the covers to hibernate. All will be over and the sun will come out and our dream of getting “up and at ‘em” will be visualized — or so we hope. Is it just a dream?

Each day has its ups and downs. This I have learned and must take my own advice as to simplifying lifestyle. Do one thing at a time, don’t hurry, plan ahead so as to not pile too much into one chore — spread it out. It’s not like yesteryears when we could just zip through a task and still have time for the mundane.

There are too many negatives to the point of a mounting medical concern: depression. So what is their plan? More pills? Ugh. Who can be happy in “la-la land” not able to be your old self again? Misery upon misery and there seems not to be a happy tomorrow, like when we were younger and our bodies could heal themselves — a problem would be over and done with. But now we have to learn how to cope and live with what we have. Not easy by any means. But, thankfully, there are always the few pleasant perks now and again that come our way.

I talk a lot with older folks and we compare notes as to how we are doing. Each person has different health concerns and many times we can learn from each other’s experiences. Naturally what works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for all, but there are possibilities. If it works, go for it.

I recall the wonderful surprise when a friend stopped by with her delicious chicken soup, all made from scratch. Now that’s a labor of love. Then there are our thoughtful neighbors who mow our lawn when they observe our need. There are many, many kind and caring folks especially those special people who work in hospitals and health facilities who care with sincere feelings for those in need.

There is a biblical adage of “happy heart … good health.” So even though I am limited, somewhat, there are many opportunities to lighten someone else’s load. That makes a somewhat disgruntled person happy. Believe it or not, by helping someone else you are actually helping yourself — happy heart … good health.

Elaine W. Kniskern is a 80-year-old resident of Schenevus and a grandmother of five. She can reached at ‘Senior Scene’ columns can be found at www.