By Barbara Wells
The Meridian Star
“At age 85, I will be in my La-Z-Boy watching television. Hopefully the Saints will be winning."
“I suspect I’ll be sleeping fitfully in a nursing home.” “Frankly I doubt I’ll be around at 85.”
“I plan to be going to my weekly line dance class.” These are some of the comments made by people when asked, "Where will you be at 85?"
What do you think you will be doing?
It’s a known fact we are living longer, women in particular. By 2050, there will be more old people than children under the age of 15. (In the year 2050, I will be 100 years old. Yikes!)
People live longer, with more chronic illnesses like high blood pressure or diabetes. And they are in poorer health, requiring more attention from family members and costly medical care.
Ideally, as we live longer, we will do so in good health, remaining productive, valued members of society who contribute in workplaces, communities and families through our later years. We will be treated respectfully and supported economically and socially as we become frail.
The fact is this. According to the authors of a report on global aging published by the United Nations Population Fund, “Worldwide, more than 46 percent of people aged 60 years and over have disabilities and more than 250 million older people experience moderate to severe disability.”
Who is going to care for this aging population? As middle-aged adults leave rural areas for economic opportunities in the city (this is happening in Africa, large parts of China and other regions), older adults are left behind to tend to grandchildren and take care of themselves as best they can, without the aid of adult children. What this means is that the old are taking care of the old in many instances.
Enlightened policies, including those dealing with caregiving, may make a great difference in the experience of older adults in the years to come.
What can you do as an individual?
• Be informed. Take your head out of the sand and attend some of the many informative lectures in your area to have a better understanding of what you can (and cannot) change. One thing we can all do is keep our elected (and appointed) officials aware of what we need and want for a better life.
Several neighborhoods in Meridian are forming neighborhood watches as a way to ward off crime in their area. It is a good way to meet your neighbors. They usually have guest speakers come in with information about the law, protecting ourselves, etc. The local Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP, 485-0812)) has two such seminars coming up soon. One neighborhood watch meets on the second Monday of each month at the Meridian Activity Center.
Take an interest in your body. Have you noticed how many of us are doing just that since Dr. Oz has been on the air? Consider all the other fellows that have come along before him and you might understand just how seriously to take all he says. Remember Euell Gibbons of “Stalking the Wild Asparagus”? or Jethro Kloss “Back to Eden”?
Exercise helps. Most of us must admit that a certain amount of exercise is good for us. Can you actually believe that sitting all day is good for us? (Well, don’t ask that of a yogi in India!) You may have heard the theory that standing at your computer is so much better for you than sitting ... or the “10,000 steps per day” plan of the Japanese? John F. Kennedy was considered our fitness President with his President's Council on Physical Fitness testing school children’s fitness. The website related how Charles Schulz endorsed the Council by incorporating exercise in his cartoons. And “Baby boomers today may recall exercising to the song "Chicken Fat," a song performed by Robert Preston and written by "The Music Man" himself, Meredith Willson.” And we all know of Richard Simmons!
John Kennedy also honored seniors by naming May as “Senior Americans Month.” (President Carter later changed the name to “Older Americans Month.”) May 1 marks the beginning of that month here in Meridian and Lauderdale County, where the Council on Aging will be offering many free activities for our seniors. Be looking for our blue brochures naming our sponsors and activities. So far we are thankful to Citizens National Bank, Harper’s Hospice, Hospice Compassus, Great Southern National, and Bank Plus! But the donations are still coming in. Thank you all.
Active Activity Center
Since our walking track was laid, Meridian Activity Center has become a destination for many walkers in the neighborhood. And I can’t say enough for our exercise classes. Most are offered in the morning hours: Floor exercise, Yoga, Strength Training. But in the afternoons we offer a Yoga class, Zumba and Slimnastics!
This Friday, Katherine Horne continues her Reading for Pleasure class with The Dubliners by James Joyce. It is also to be a celebration of the Irish, as some of the readers are coming back from a trip to Ireland. We’ll meet at the center at 2 p.m. Call Katherine at (601) 483-7496 for questions.
The ladies from Medicare’s Information & Quality Healthcare (IQH) are still offering free Diabetes Informational Sessions on Tuesdays, from 2 p.m.-4 p.m. Phone Lisa Camel at (601) 672-1067 for information. It does not matter if you miss one class, or if you think you know all there is to know about this illness! The more you hear it the sooner you can do something about it!
The city has installed Windows 8 in four of our computers so we will soon be teaching small classes on this newest program. (If you purchased a new computer over Christmas 2012 it will have Windows 8 as the principal program—unless you fortunately bought a mac!) Classes will be held on Wednesday and Thursday mornings and Monday nights. We also still teach Windows 7. Special thanks to DT for getting that program installed.
Meridian Activity Center (3300 32nd Ave,) is located off 29th Avenue and 36th Street. Look for our small street signs and then, as you turn onto 32nd Avenue you will see our arched sign at the end of the street as you enter the parking lot. Computer five-week classes will be starting again soon, Monday night, Wednesday or Thursday mornings. Call for details (601) 485-1812.
• Barbara Wells is director of Meridian Activity Center. You may e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org