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Humor Helps Us All to Cope With the Aging Process
By:Jerry Aragon

Time has flown by so fast for me, that I worry about it! Now, in my early 60's, it just seems like yesterday, that I was in the Air Force (on our side), and I was sitting around with some friends in the NCO Club, having a beer and listening to the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. And, today, half of the Beatles are gone and those who remain are all over sixty! That's scary...isn't it?

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The following article on humor and aging is presented here for your information/education and was published in the Albuquerque Journal, Mature New Mexico Magazine. It was written by Corky Vann of the Los Angeles Times. In this piece, I will quote from the article; paraphrase as necessary; and I will give my two cents, for whatever it's worth!

Article: "When Sandy Moehle received a birthday card that read, 'Old age ain't for sissies,' her sentiment summed up her feelings about dealing with the physical and mental challenges of aging. It also made her laugh! 'I'm going to put this saying in my office,' says Moehle, 59. 'Some parts of getting older are a real pain, but seeing the humor in them makes the process easier to deal with.'"

My two cents: I think old age is one of the worst things that can happen to anyone, but we're all going to have to deal with it...if any of us get that far, etc. "Life begins at 60?" (Shut up!) Now, that I have turned the 60 mark, I worry more and more about it! I see other people...the "before," and the "after" and I don't like what I see. In this society, there are four age groups; the young; middle aged; the old; and "my, but you're sure looking good these days!" I don't want to go to that last category!

Article: "Steven M. Sultanoff, a California clinical psychologist and past president of the American Association for Therapeutic Humor and self-labled "mirthologist," says the benefits of laughter are no joke! Learning to enjoy the ups and down of life reduces stress; improves communications; energizes relationships and generally makes people feel better. 'Studies show that humor might be dangerous to your illness,' writes Sultanoff, who maintains the website (humormatters.com), which includes an extensive section devoted to aging related humor"

My two cents: My father and I are as different as black and white. He lived to be 80 years old, and I don't know how he did it! He never went to a doctor in his life! He was one of those "medical-phobics," who is afraid of everything medical...needles; plastic tubes, etc. He was a heavy smoker most of his life, and because of this, he never lived a quality life, because he was always sick of something! My father never exercised. If I asked him if he would walk around the block, his answer would be: "Why should I walk, when I can drive around the block faster?"

On the other hand, I have always taken care of myself...walking and jogging 10 to 15 miles a week, and "pumping aluminum," for the last 20 years! I get a flu shot every year; teeth cleaned; a physical every year; quit smoking; drink very little; watch my diet and I have never done drugs of any kind! I watch my diet. But, in the future, I worry because, it will probably be my luck, that I will be run over by a spinach or turnip truck...on my way to the health store to pick up some asparagus!

Article: "Research has clearly indicated that negative thinking and emotional distress lead to disease. Humor changes negative thinking and emotional distress and, therefore, can be a powerful health intervention." Research, though limited, indicates that laughing enhances the immune system, reduces stress and it creates tolerance to pain. Humor has also proved to be a valuable tool for people facing serious illness and medical treatment."

My two cents: I think everyone will agree with me, that we are all seeking a quality of life! But, how can a person have a quality of life, if that person is sick all the time like my father? The name of the game for me is prevention! There are some people who get there exercise every week by clicking and double-clicking...that's it! COME ON...can we talk?

Article: "Forget about the 'it only hurts when I laugh concept,' says author and humorist Loretta LaRoche. 'The truth is...it hurts more when you don't laugh!' LaRoche, 62, acknowledges. That while failing health, the loss of loved ones and other realities of aging aren't funny, a sense of humor is one of the best coping mechanisms around. 'Sure, sure aging is tough, but what's the alternative?' says LaRoche, who recently released an audiotape entitled, 'Aging With Humor.' 'Find your inner sitcom and make your last act a comedy!'"

My two cents: None of us can turn back the clock! When my wife's parent's were in their 80's, they down-sized and moved into an apartment which catered to the elderly, and had a medical staff on hand and so forth. And, I would go with my wife to visit her parents, but I didn't like going over there. Her parents were in good shape, but it was depressing to see some of the other elderly people sitting around in a wheelchair...slumped over...their heads hanging to one side or the other...and, nobody around! They just sat there like there was no life in the body, and a person feels so helpless because none of us can do anything about the problem!

Article: A new book can help, "Age Doesn't Matter Unless You're a Cheese: Wisdom From Our Elders," by Katherine and Ross Petras, is a collection of 350 notable quotes about getting older. You won't find any stereo-typical 'old geezer' humor here. Every contributor's quotes are serious reflections on the aging process, many including title are hilarious observations on the 'golden years.' A couple of examples:

"A stockbroker urged me to buy a stock that would triple every year. I told him that, at my age, don't even buy green bananas!" Claude Pepper/U.S. Senator

"I have everything now, that I had 20 years ago...except now it's all lower!" Gypsy Rose Lee

Carter Henderson, author of 'Funny, I don't Feel Old: How to Flourish after 50.' Says older adults should focus less on the difficulties of aging, and more on what makes them smile...and he works hard to follow his own advice."

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For those of you wanting to obtain more information on senior issues...a good place to start is to go to the website: Suddenly Senior (suddenlysenior.com) Those of you wanting information on therapeutic humor can go to the World Laughter Tour. (worldlaughtertour.com)

In conclusion...age is just a number, right? (boo-hoo!) I've been very forgetful lately, and so I also worry about getting Alzheimer's disease! If I DO get Alzheimer's disease...there will be one positive thing that can come out of it...I will be able to hide my own Easter eggs!

Jerry Aragon

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