Brightening the World
The joys and challenges of life after 50.
Brightening the World
Animals for Comfort and Health
Companion animals improve our lives in many ways. They are certainly a loving presence that can calm and comfort, especially in this time of covid isolation faced by many, especially older individuals who live alone.
It is said that petting an animal lowers blood pressure, plus having a dog that you must walk every day forces you to exercise which does your ticker good, no matter your age, while oxygenating your whole being.
And dogs can serve us. Arlene, a recently retired friend who lives in the country, now spends her time volunteering as a trainer of service dogs for those who are deaf or blind. “For me it’s a labor of love. We all have to give back, but I think I’m getting back a lot more than I give,” she points out. She says that therapy dogs provide help for humans on many levels, anything from educational, motivational and mental needs, as well as for socialization.
Therapy dogs visit schools and hospices, seniors in hospital and care facilities as well as children undergoing medical treatments, bringing with them love, smiles and pure joy. But they also bring comfort in many other areas. I recently read about a program which gives children who struggle with reading out loud an opportunity to practice by reading to a therapy dog.
Therapy dogs are also used in disaster areas to help people cope with very stressful situations. I’ve even read of therapy dogs helping those with an uncontrolled fear of dentists. I may talk to my dentist about this since I remember (perhaps you do too) less than fondly the old noisy drills at the root of my apprehension of the dental chair. But I digress.
In our current electronic age, therapy dogs may be needed to help those with an addiction to texting. Recently our local media reported that a young woman killed herself in the subway while texting. Instead of entering the train through the door as she assumed she was doing while distracted by texting, she stepped between two cars and was crushed. A therapy dog could have prevented the tragedy.
While I am a dog person, some people prefer cats. Cats can certainly bring comfort and be a welcome presence in a home, but I don’t believe cats can be trained to be of service to their owners the way a dog can. Of course, on the plus side, while they can help people cope with stressful situations by simply being close they don’t need to go for a walk a couple or more times a day. A definite welcome element for those who are older or living with mobility limitations.
A Matter of Perspective
After an accident that resulted in ruptured shoulder ligaments, my friend Wayne is in terrible pain these days. The doctor promises that he will heal fully, but of course since he is in the booming age range, he knows the recovery will be longer than if he were a younger man. However, he is philosophical about it. These things happen, he says, and you just have to go with it. He adds: when I am tempted to feel sorry for myself I think of all the children in hospital; a lot of them will not make it. That really sobers me up and I don’t complain.
Wayne told me this on a day when I was feeling sad for a variety of reasons, covid being high on the list. And his great way of looking at the problems that befall all of us as the years pile on made me take stock of my own troubles. Were they that serious? I may be afraid of coming down with the corona virus, but I don’t have it and I continue to be vigilant. Other problems can certainly be a pain in the posterior, but they are not permanent. I realized it was time to forget the bad and concentrate on the good.My grandchildren are certainly an especially wonderful blessing in my life, so what have I got to complain about? Many people will never know the joys of grandparenting, while others have simply been cut off from seeing their grandchildren for a variety of family problems. I feel very fortunate to be close to my own grandchildren and for being able to see them evolve and be there to love them.
They are delight in my life. But I know I am also important in theirs because when I asked my grandson what he considered the best thing about grandparents, he didn’t hesitate to reply: They know so much stuff!
Couldn’t have said it better myself.
I don’t know about you, but I’m always impressed when I read about new technological possibilities. And when you think about it, the advances we have seen in the last decades are not only amazing but coming along so rapidly they are dizzying.
Technology keeps on keeping on. New advances now making full use of the brain are the wonder of our age as they help the disabled. Case in point, the theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, who suffered from ALS for decades, was able to continue his work despite his ever-increasing physical limitations. At one point, keyboards were adapted to obey his voice commands, but eventually Hawking wrote using his brain. A chip in his eyeglasses made it possible for him to pick up radio waves from his mind and transfer them to his laptop so he could type mentally. Amazing or what?
And other disabled people who have a chip inserted in the brain and then connected to a laptop are able to mentally operate a wheelchair and household appliances, surf the net, write e-mails, even if they are totally paralyzed. The implanted chip is a sort of brain pacemaker about the size of a dime. What a welcome advance for so many paraplegics.
And for us who are no longer as young as we used to be and who may fear dementia in the future, technology may have a welcome solution. Researchers are working on the possibility of inserting a chip/pacemaker in the brain of people with memory problems that would upload memory. That technology is mind-boggling to say the least, and when you consider the number of seniors who suffer from dementia, it would amazingly redefine the golden years for an awful lot of people.
And who knows what other advance we’ll see in the next few years.
Hoorah for our technological age!
Battle of the Sexes
The Old Testament is being challenged. The account of the creation is not accurate according to some people. It seems that after God had created the first man, He looked at the result, shook His head and said: Not bad, but I can do better then went on to create the first woman!
While religious scholars may not be ready to accept that this version of events could replace the one in the Book of Genesis, we women of a certain age know it to be true!! It was simply not accepted by men over the centuries.
Things have certainly improved for women, but they are still treated as second class citizens by men today in many cultures. And it remains difficult to change attitudes. In North America today many older men live by the concept that they are somehow superior to women, that they are worth more. Ask any widowed or divorced female boomer dating men of a certain age, and they will complain that single older men are basically looking for someone to prepare their food and wash their underwear and socks. That’s not surprising given history. When I was working in a large corporation, I once had to attend a meeting where I was the only female. Before we sat down I heard a male colleague comment to another man: Do we really need a woman here? My thought: Yeah, you do. How else are your decisions going to be sensible ones?
And take the case of China where couples could only have one child. As most of them wanted boys—why?--there are accounts of female fetuses being aborted so couples could try to have boys. The result is that today males outweigh females which makes me wonder what will happen next. Will finding a wife involve dueling other males who get in the way?
Equality of the sexes is still far from won.
All About Age
Recent statistics indicate that the number of people reaching 100 is ever increasing. What used to be a rare milestone is now not quite as exceptional. That indicates to me that we all have the capacity to live a century or more. Advances in medical treatments and care are certainly important components of this phenomenon, but there are other factors certainly.
The older I get, the more I see that a positive attitude seems to pay unmistakable dividends. A relative who was getting close to 102 commented that she never looked back. In her view, what’s past is past. No point thinking about it or wonder what could have been different, she said. She concentrated on making the best of today. Wise words. As Irving Berlin is reported to have said, “Life is ten percent what you make it and ninety percent how you take it.”
Of course, each stage along the road of life has its own challenges, but they don’t need to be taken too seriously. George Burns had the right idea when he said, “When I was young, the Dead Sea was still alive.” He always looked at age at something to be laughed at rather than a source of angst. Of course, if one’s age is cause of concern, the secret might be to simply disregard birthdays. Or lie about them as a friend has done much of her adult life. Now, at times, she truly forgets how old she really is. All I know is that she has been celebrating her 55th birthday for a number of years now!
For my part, I became keenly aware recently that we’re all in the same boat. When I saw a picture of an old colleague on the internet I was surprised to see that his black hair was now nearly white! It reminded me of a remark from the youngster who asked his grandmother why only grandfathers have grey hair, not grandmothers. The answer is simple. Grandfathers are simply not as friendly with color in a bottle!