Turning the Tide on Your Attitude about Aging

Not long ago, I saw the quote above on a t-shirt at Pike Place Market and it gave me pause. First I thought, shouldn't that be cabernet, not chardonnay? And then I thought, what about those who aren't aging well? And finally I thought, kudos to the slogan writer who understands that aging is a journey that we all take and, if we do it well, we can enjoy it to the end!

How did aging get such a bad rap? Isn't it what we're meant to do?

We hear so many disparaging remarks about growing old. I suspect each of us is guilty of making those comments at times. Let's turn the tide. Let's be kind to ourselves and each other. Let's continue to build on what we've got—extraordinary experience, wisdom, humor, and grace. When we look in the mirror, let's say, "I meant to do that!" Gray hair? I earned every one of them!

AARP Washington offers a free workshop that helps women at mid-life plan for success in later life.

For those who are not yet 50, you can look forward to the year you are eligible to join your local senior center—those wonderful places where older adults can go for entertainment, learning, meals, recreation, travel, and more. You can look forward to joining AARP and getting publications in the mail that offer a wealth of valuable information, local events, and discounts.

People who are 50 and better can participate in an amazing array of lifelong learning and lifelong recreation programs at Seattle and King County parks and recreation facilities, and local colleges.

I'm quite serious when I say that, in so many ways, life gets better after age 50. Empty nest? There's so much to do! Grandchildren? Usually, you get to send them home at the end of the day! Retirement? That's actually an antiquated term, as more older adults are starting new careers in their 50s, 60s and 70s now than ever before.

Sound Steps gets men and women moving, some to the point of walking half-marathons, with a full training program and all the camaraderie you could hope to get.

It's true that some older adults do not enjoy the programs, services, and opportunities listed above. Isolation, low income, and chronic disease affect many members of our community. Fortunately, help is available.

If you haven't memorized it already, please add Senior Information & Assistance (888-4-ELDERS) to your phone directory. That's the number to call for free, confidential information and referrals for older adults, particularly those age 60 and older, and family caregivers. Call that number to connect with a local senior advocate who can walk you through benefits, programs and services that can support successful aging.

Our local "Senior I&A" advocates are part of a nationwide network supported by the federal Older Americans Act. That means you can call even if you are concerned about a loved one in another part of the country—they'll make the connection to their counterparts in other places.

Take advantage of the wonderful world of aging programs and services. Take a moment to shout, "Woo-hoo! What a ride!"

Contributor Tony Provine is serving is second term as chair of the Seattle-King County Advisory Council on Aging & Disability Services, which publishes AgeWise King County. He welcomes input from readers via e-mail (advisorychair@agewisekingcounty.org) as well as applicants for open positions on the council, when they occur. For more information, visit www.agingkingcounty.org/advisory-council.

Advisory Council Meeting to Feature Senior Centers

For more information about senior center operations, come to the Seattle-King County Advisory Council on Aging & Disability Services meeting in April. Center directors from across King County have been invited to share their successes, innovations, community needs, challenges, and visions.

Friday, April 11, 2014
12 noon – 1:30 p.m.
Seattle Municipal Tower Room 4060
700 5th Avenue (downtown Seattle)

For more information, contact Gigi Meinig (gigi.meinig@seattle.gov or 206-684-0652) or visit www.agingkingcounty.org/advisory-council.