Marijuana will become legal in Canada in October, just in time for Canadian Boomerfest! But guess what? It takes more than a little THC to make the second half of life fun and interesting. Check out my piece in The London Free Press to find out what boomers REALLY need to make life meaningful.
A few months ago I was speaking with an older friend of mine who remembers too vividly the humiliation he suffered because of a severe stutter during his adolescence and early young adult years. Although very bright, people often thought he was stupid because he had trouble getting his words out properly. Fortunately for him, his parents were able to the hire the services of the famous speech therapist Lionel Logue, who had helped King George VI to overcome his stammer. (Remember the recent film and book by the same name, The King’s Speech.) Logue assisted my friend over several years and eventually things turned around for him too. He went on to become a distinguished professor of education with a special interest in helping those in developing countries to reach their full human potential.
Discrimination in all its forms — whether based on race, colour, gender, religion, gender orientation or being differently abled, as in the case of a speech impediment — is horrible because it undermines the image of God in the lives of God’s children, preventing them from living into being all that God calls them to be.
But there is another more insidious form of discrimination that does not get talked about as much as it should: ageism. Bill Plotkin says that we live in “a patho-adolesecent culture”. He writes that it’s time we grow up.
Author and speaker Missy Buchanan says that “most of us believe that aging is an enemy, something we must battle with daily.” Sadly, this kind of thinking has infected our faith communities. Buchanan wants people to see how we can use the gifts that come with aging to help build the kin-dom of God. By obsessing about youth, our congregations deny many important gifts that accompany growing older: introspection, self-awareness, reflection, patience and wisdom, not-to-mention the valuable ability to look at things from a third-person perspective — all things that are crucial in a world bent on self-destruction through climate injustice or nuclear weapons.
So the next time you look in the mirror and moan about another wrinkle or a new grey hair, remember that these are the badges of honour of a full and long life, and a reminder to share your hard-earned wisdom with others!
As some of you may know, I had surgery on both feet this past Friday. While I am blessed to have a caring and supportive husband and the prayers and healing energy of many friends, I am also getting a ‘bit’ of an idea of what it must be like to suffer from mobility issues. When I do walk, I am like Frankenstein, on my heels and waving my arms about frantically. It’s quite a sight! It can also be dangerous, as I discovered last night as I teetered at the top of our stairs and nearly fell backwards to the hard ceramic floor below!
While not in excruciating pain, thankfully, I am being forced to rest more and to pace myself, something this workaholic boomer does not like to do! So far walking up and downstairs — which I do very slowly, carefully and not often — has been the biggest challenge. That and showering! Between Richard’s failing hearing and my compromised mobility, we make quite a pair! Is this a sign of things to come?
The advances in healthcare and bio-medicine have had major implications for the longevity revolution. But as we Boomers live longer, we face new health challenges. Recent studies have shown, for example, that while baby boomers are living longer than earlier generations, by roughly 20 years, we are not necessarily healthier. We are less likely to smoke, have emphysema, or a heart attack, but we are more likely to be obese, have diabetes, or high blood pressure than the previous generation at similar ages. We are also more likely to have mobility issues.
Vicki Freedman, a University of Michigan demographer, has noted that disability levels have continued to decline among the oldest people (ages 85 and older) but held steady among Boomers. She said that she and other researchers “had expected baby boomers to be doing better, given advances in public health and education during the lives of the baby boomers.”
These findings will have a major impact on the rising costs to healthcare as well as implications for family members who may need to provide more care for ailing loved ones. May they encourage us to find new and creative ways to care for ourselves and others, and nurture and cherish our health while we have it.