Written by Len Smith.
I am driven by three major factors in my “senior-hood”;
- In my senior years, I want to continue to help others, both young and old.
- Whatever days I’ve been given on Earth, I want them to be healthy days.
- I want to be known as a great grandfather.
- I have been involved with the Alzheimer’s Association for about 4 ½ years, but we parted company recently as I want to work with ARTZ Philadelphia to bring art therapy throughout South Jersey to those with any form of dementia, which includes Alzheimer’s. A documentary, “I Remember Better When I Paint”, which the last I knew I am the only one who has shown it in New Jersey (and I have shown it about 15 times to groups), clearly shows how beneficial all creative arts are to those with dementia.
- I enjoy giving presentations to senior groups, and I recently developed a talk n financial elder abuse to make fellow seniors aware of the tremendous threat all of us face from scammers and why our vulnerability to such scams increases as we age.
- I have become involved with the Narenj Tree Foundation, which is bringing much needed supplies to Syrian refugees in Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon.
- I was diagnosed with age-related (aka “dry”) macular degeneration (AMD) in 1994 at the age of 50, the first of 4 generations with it. As of 2009 I healed myself of it, and it has been gone ever since.
- Most seniors consider it a dirty word, but I have found exercise to be a phenomenal way to stay healthy and active.
- The benefits of my exercise were clearly shown when I had open heart surgery to replace an aortic valve in 2006. Five months and 10 days after the surgery, I did a 100-mile bicycle ride and have done 10 more since then, doing my fastest one in 5 hours and 30 minutes at age 67.
- But you don’t have to be anywhere near as extreme in exercising as I have been to benefit from the tremendous effects that even light exercise has on staying healthy and active as a senior.
- My weight is considered normal, but for the last 11 years I have been pre-diabetic, which is probably due to either my genes (two generations before me plus my brother had/have it) and/or being exposed to Agent Orange in Vietnam. Either way, my Internist has said the only reason I’m not diabetic is because of what of I do to try to prevent it.
- In May 2013 I was diagnosed with the most aggressive form of prostate cancer possible, but it was my actions that helped diagnose the cancer early and arrest it.
- Sarcopenia is the medical term for the loss of lean muscle mass as we age, and it affects all of us starting in our 40’s, and gets much worse in each succeeding decade of life as we age. I feel I have combated sarcopenia very well.
Being a grandparent:
I am fortunate to have 6 wonderful grandchildren, ranging in age from 16 years to 17 months. Unfortunately, while I live in NJ, 3 of the grandchildren live in Florida; 2 live in North Carolina; and 1, the youngest, lives 3 miles down the road and she spoils us. But I hear so many seniors tell me how difficult it is taking care of their grandchildren, and that stuns me.
Now that I’m retired, I try to get to FL and NC to see those 5 a minimum of 3 times a year in each state, with a goal of 4 times/year.
I am the go-to grandparent when the parents want or need to take a trip, and I love it. My longest was a 12-day stint with the 3 in FL while their parents went to Europe. I loved every minute of it, but equally important for the parents is they feel I’m the most trustworthy person to take care of their children.
And I would like to get across to my fellow seniors why this is so important (while some of us will become great grandparents, the reality is for almost all of us it is our grandchildren that will be that last generation that we will really have an influence on.)
Lee, my life has been fantastic, and great part is that it just seems to be getting better as I “sort of” age. I would like to share with my fellow seniors what I believe we all can do to have the best quality life as seniors possible.
All the best,