What’s Your RealAge?
At GAC we believe “Aging Matters to Everyone!” It’s a process we begin at birth, a rite of passage, and what we do with this allotted time ultimately depends on us. With that in mind, I’d like to recommend one of my favorite websites - and I can’t stress this enough - this site has something important to say to everyone - from teen-agers to nonagenarians. It’s easy to use, informative, innovative, and you’ll keep going back for more. It’s called RealAge and it helps us become a full partner in designing a wellness program that is uniquely ours. The RealAge Program and web site were founded by Dr. Michael Roizen, Chief of the Cleveland Clinic Health & Wellness Institute and noted author and Dr. Mehmet Oz. Basically you’re asked this question - “Are you biologically younger, older or the same as your calendar age?” You can take the RealAge test that’s available online and you’ll quickly receive the answer. You also begin to understand that feeling younger isn’t as hard as you thought and you’ll get a personalized list of what’s making you younger or older. Keeping track of our chronological age is important for planning birthday celebrations but the age of our bodies tell us a lot more about the way we live. Once you have completed the test, you’ll periodically receive wonderful tips about healthy aging that are great reinforcements. All right, you’re not a test taker. Check out the site anyway. Everyday there are wonderful ideas and options for staying young. The very best part is this information is available 24/7 by taping in these simple letters RealAge.com
The “Shoulds” . . .
I’ve found great thoughts often develop during lunch with good friends. Some conversations are worthy of serious consideration. That’s the case with an idea I first heard about almost 20 years ago. It’s all about the “Shoulds” we have in our lives. We know how easily we can slip into feelings of regret or anxiety about what we should or should not be doing. One afternoon, while a group of us were talking about stress in our lives, a very wise friend [a learned professional] asked all of us, “Do you know about the tapes? The tapes she referred to are the endless thoughts that play, over and over, usually uninvited in our minds 24 hours a day. They’re the “Should Tapes.” You know, “I should be thinner,” “I should be on time,” “I should clean out all the closets.” You probably have some of your own. Well it turns out we can do a better job of combating these thoughts and saving them for a more appropriate time than 3:00 AM. We can temporarily stop the tapes by consciously thinking to ourselves, “I’m turning off the tapes.” If you can begin by just turning the tapes off for a brief time, don’t despair, it’s a good beginning. The rest will come more easily as we condition ourselves to be in charge of when we listen to the tapes of our lives. Frankly, I like to say the words out loud. “I’m turning off the tapes.” It has a certain resonance to it. Of course, it’s best to repeat that phrase out loud only when you’re alone.
A Gift to Remember . . .
A family friend of ours delighted his children and grandchildren last holiday season by committing to paper, a history of his family. He doesn’t use a computer so he took pen in hand and told their stories in his own words, on a yellow legal pad. He recorded facts and memories from his early childhood, young adult years, middle age, and slightly beyond. He captured the essence of his family’s life, the holidays, vacations, births, losses, and the character of those involved in the journey. When he was finished, he photo-copied the pages, stapled them together, wrapped them
carefully, and presented them on Christmas Day to his adult sons and his brothers. What a labor of love. Each was captivated by the history and recopied them for their children. The story was read aloud to the youngest ones. At this time of year when thoughts of the upcoming holidays begin to creep into our consciousness I thought about the priceless gift our friend had given his children. What a labor of love! Would it be difficult to commit our own story to paper. Possibly, but well worth the effort. It need not be a formal genealogy, just glimpses of the more recent generations who came before us and influenced us in ways many of us are just beginning to understand. One of the best ways to get started is a trip to the Western Reserve Historical Society [WRHS], one of Cleveland’s landmark institutions, a virtual treasure chest of information. They’re located at 10825 East Boulevard in University Circle. They also offer classes that will satisfy the most inquisitive researcher. The WRHS Library’s Archives & Genealogy Center [open Thursday through Saturday, 10AM-5PM] is one of the largest family history research centers in the country. While you’re there you might check out the Museum’s gift shop because a good way to get started is to create a “Family Tree.” You’ll find wonderful, affordable “Family Tree Keepsake Charts” you can fill in and present on birthdays, reunions, or christenings. Visit the Museum in person or check out their web site www.wrhs.org. There is no simpler way to include the young and the not-so-young than to record their names in a personal family history you all share.
A Small Treasure . . .
Sometimes I think there’s not enough importance attached to the everyday routine of our lives; the small things, the things that if taken away would cause a deep ache in our hearts. While I pondered this thought I was reminded of an experience a GAC Social Worker shared with me. While performing a scheduled assessment of a frail, home-bound senior, the question of good nutrition was raised. “Mary,” a 92 year old former registered nurse, lives in Cleveland’s inner city, in a home she shared with her husband, a retired high school principal, until his death 11 years ago. Through
the efforts of Mary’s husband, changes were made to insure that their home was made handicapped accessible. This action allowed Mary the opportunity to continue to live in the comfort and safety of her own home. While responding to the social worker’s question about nutrition, Mary spoke glowingly about how much she values the delivery of her daily hot meal. “When I hear my door bell ring and the GAC driver call out my name, I know it’s going to be a better day.” When asked about her other food options Mary acknowledged that the Home-Delivered-Meal is her only full meal of the day. I was deeply touched by Mary’s story. It centers around a wonderful senior who has adjusted to the many complexities of life. It is a story that includes a compassionate team of professionals: a caring social worker, a dedicated kitchen staff, a driver and a jumper, all deeply involved in the lives of each senior they serve. A perfect example of how a small treasure - a hot meal delivered to the front door - instantly becomes an enormous pleasure.
The pleasure of your company . . .
One of my favorite quotes - often repeated around our offices - probably because the older we get, the more sense it makes, is: “Youth is a Gift, Aging is an Art.” To emphasis the point, GAC established annual Golden Achievement Awards to honor individuals of mature years who have made a significant contribution to the quality of
life in our community. Seventeen years later we are still at it, spotlighting the accomplishments of an amazing group of individuals who redefine aging in their personal lives and serve as exemplary models for all of us. You’ll meet them here on this Blog and learn what they have to say about getting older and smarter, the pros and cons of retirement, and how they look at the opportunities advanced years can offer. By the way, the “pleasure of your company” is requested for Sunday, May 2, 2010 for the 2010 Golden Achievement Award Gala. It’s also time to consider the possibilities. Have you ever looked at a list of names that reflect a certain category of work and thought that “so and so” would be an excellent addition to the list? If so, the time is now. It’s easy: write to us, e-mail us, or phone us. Tell us why you believe your nominee[s] would make excellent Honorees. We will be delighted to facilitate the process. Contact numbers are available at the end of this post. Nominations for Golden Achievement Awards are accepted in one or more of the following categories: Business, Community Service, Education, Gerontology, Medicine, Sports’ Legends, and The Arts. To find out more about the Golden Achievement Honorees [1993-2009] click onto: www.goldenagecenters.org
and scroll down to Golden Achievement Awards.