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Humor And Aging


As you get older and find that you don't like what you see on TV or in your email, you can either get upset and be nasty or laugh. Nothing is going to change if I get ugly, so I've decided to laugh. Everett Baum and Georgie Pease liked to joke and have fun. Because they were always laughing they were able to live happy, productive lives well into their 90s and were welcomed everywhere.

Gramp Wiley, on the other hand, had a heart attack the day after he had met Senator Mitchell. He snapped, "Shows what can happen when you shake hands with a democrat."

Appreciate the advantages in being old. For example, it keeps you off the ski slopes. In a recent year, Maine had four times as many people killed on the slopes than were killed in hunting accidents.

I know, we're all encouraged to stay fit. But if you enjoy sweating as your heart beats faster you should know that more and more elderly people are experiencing cardiac arrest during exercise classes. Every time you hear of a man dropping in his tracks during a workout at the gym it only proves that there are old people out there willing to lay down their lives for physical fitness. I once read of a man who, at 102, bragged that he'd lived that long only because he'd had arthritis when he was a kid and had never been able to get any exercise. If the government is truly serious about saving lives I suggest that they fund some leisure programs where we'd get paid for sleeping in a rocking chair.

Humor is one of the great coping mechanisms we have for dealing with stressful situations. When you are at a disadvantage humor can be an eloquent defense. Think of the people you like and you will find that they are positive, cheerful people. One that comes to my mind is an old neighbor who was always smiling. He'd steal most anything and you couldn't believe a word he said, but you had to like him.

Old people have usually learned how to relax. It enables them to enjoy the power they never had when they were young. In the summer you can see hundreds of great-grandfathers with shaking hands, guiding lumbering campers down Maine roads at 30 miles an hour. Every August I have a contest on my radio show where listener friends can win a prize for sending in a description of the camper that was holding up the most cars. For instance, an honorable mention might say, "I saw a Massachusetts camper between Lisbon and Lisbon Falls that was holding up 27 cars." Think how the old driver of that camper must relish his power. All through life he might have been a nameless Boston bureaucrat that nobody noticed but now he can look in his rear view mirror and relish the unquestioned authority that comes from holding up 27 cars.

Young people might not realize that old folks can often be just as astute as they were several decades before. Grammy Prior, who was more than likely to speak the truth, said that when she was young she prayed that she wouldn't lose her mind when she got old. She said, "Now I'm beginning to wonder if it was a good idea."

I'll end by pointing out that humor and laughter is an inexpensive way to give older people a people a feeling of hope. Companies sometimes bring me in to speak to their trusted employees before announcing sharp cutbacks in insurance benefits and hourly wages.

Meeting Planner. For a free hilarious audio CD of humble live onstage (play it in your car and arrive with a smile on your face) send your mailing address and the approximate date of your meeting to:


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