The Best Thing About Getting Older Is…

Category: Weekly Columns

I had lunch with a good friend the other day and the subjects we covered really made an impact on me, as I reflected on them.  I had just come from a lesson in using social media, where I’m learning the new technologies that are popular in our culture now, such as Twitter, Facebook, Linkenin, Smart Phones, I-everythings, etc.

While I’m not a total novice, I do admit that every time a new “thing” comes out, it fills me with dread. I face having to learn it, figure it out, and even understand it.  Frankly, I did not “get” Twitter at all until my lessons finally penetrated my middle-aged, failing hard-drive of a brain.  And that was also after reading “Twitter for Dummies”–and I’m not kidding.

My friend shared with me that he’d heard that every generation now has a six-year shelf life, meaning that every six years, you will be out-of-date and behind the current level of technology.  So, his 10-year-old was losing to a four-year-old.  It’s mind-boggling the speed of these changes in all our lives. And our children are growing up in the midst of it, knowing nothing different.

My boys don’t tweet, and aren’t interested. They text non-stop and do it at speeds I can’t even fathom.  Where did they learn this?  It’s mostly all thumbs vs. traditional typing, though their phones have typing pads that are laid out in the traditional way, albeit just a bit smaller. They don’t bother with voicemail, saying that they see who called with the “missed call” function and therefore don’t bother.  It’s the same when I call them.  They just tell me they’ll see that I called, so they don’t listen to my messages, which I’ve stopped leaving, as I’ve had to adapt to their ways.

My biggest fear is that I’ve already become just like my parents, who could never figure out how to program their VCR, no matter how many times I impatiently taught them. I wrote it out, and I even made a video for them with step-by-step instructions. Now, I ask my younger son to program our DVR, as I always seem to forget how to do it.  It’s payback time, I suppose.

My friend and I then discussed what I fear will be the most common topic of conversation as we grow older–aging, and all the medical maladies that go with it, starting with our dwindling memories.  We each shared stories of what we’d forgotten that day, but then lost our train-of-thought, and hoped the other would remind us.

I stated my belief that our brains are like computer hard-drives and we’ve hit capacity, only unlike a computer hard-drive, there’s no delete button for those un-needed memories that I can’t lose, like the lyrics to “Na Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye” (by Steam–I had to look that up on Google, naturally).

As we continued our conversation about aging, he took me through his medical mystery tour of trying to figure out how to deal with his genetic cholesterol problem.  A master story-teller (he’s a very successful television producer), it was almost like hearing a mystery novel read out loud. He told of his investigation into the various options, all the doctors he visited, and his ultimate discovery that he was among the small percentage of people that had bad side effects from the most commonly prescribed drugs for controlling cholesterol.

Even pursuing a holistic approach was part of my friend’s journey. That included a special blood work-up from a lab in Florida that analyzed and suggested a diet tailored to his blood type and ethnic and genetic make-up.  It included the natural ingredient of red yeast rice instead of the prescribed cholesterol drugs.  A miracle occurred as his numbers fell to wonderfully healthy low levels.

But, after a couple of months, the same side effects returned of an aching back and soreness.  It seems that the red yeast rice had the same side effect as the drugs, so he stopped the yeast but kept up the “special” diet, and shortly thereafter his cholesterol levels were back up, off the charts, and bad.

A final suggestion from one of the doctors was to try taking omega fish oil.  And, after eight years of investigation, numerous doctors, and everyone offering a different theory, this worked.  And, it seems to have continued to work.

As is often the case with a good friend who you don’t see often enough, the lunch didn’t seem to last near long enough to finish all we wanted to talk about and catch up with each other’s lives.  I discussed my wife’s similar medical problems, but in the mysterious world of hormones and menopause.  She’s been at it for seven years with no end in sight and has similar negative reactions to the most commonly prescribed medicines and treatments.  Maybe she’ll discover, via a psychic or healer, a secret herb that will do the trick?

All I know is that the discussion made me laugh. I also felt old, and grateful my genetics don’t include similar problems, especially menopause. I can’t help but wonder how the future will affect our children as both technology and medicine evolves?

As for offering the best thing about getting older, I have to admit it has nothing to do with what I’ve discussed in this column. I believe, as we get older, we have the opportunity, if we’ve learned from our mistakes, to handle all our personal relationships better.