Over Easy: What to pack for your old age

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There’s been a lot of talk about “aging in place” (aging in place of what?), the concept that instead of reaching an age when you leave your established home of half a century, you can stay right there where you are and deteriorate at your own pace.

When I was a child no one said the words “death” or “died” or “cancer.” Instead we used euphemisms. Like if someone died we’d hear grown-ups say, “ah, poor Bob, he passed away last night,” or “poor Bob, he moved to Philadelphia.”

This trend is an improvement from the old days, when there was an entire glossary of euphemisms for the D word (rhymes with Beth) or the C word (rhymes with dancer). It was accepted that when you reach the point where you’ve seen every episode of “The Lawrence Welk Show” for the third time, you would move into a nursing home awaiting the next Big Step in life (rhymes with Beth).

But now that has changed, thanks in no small part to the baby boomers, now emerging from their Adventures in Real Estate seminars, blinking in the hard light of reality to find themselves the recipients of random acts of kindness, like some adult getting up to offer you a seat on the bus.

How to prepare? Well, here are some tidbits to ease the transition to old age, garnered from years of training to be an old man. Remember, old age isn’t something you get over, like a cold or the flu. It’s what is.

• First thing in the morning, after putting in your dentures, get into your parked car and turn the right turn signal on and leave it on all day.

• The right posture for driving is to lean forward so your chin is over the steering wheel and both hands are on the wheel and you are about to make a right turn as soon as the street appears.

• There are skilled tailors who can alter every pair of pants you own so the waistband will come up to just under your armpits.

• Wear extra long shirts so the exposed shirt tail hides the gaping fly left open.

• Once you turn 70, bodily functions are a perfectly acceptable topic for conversation. But avoid such conversations during meal times.

• Try to get used to the fact that compared to people of middle and young ages, you are slowing down and the world isn’t waiting for you to tie your shoes or decide which plaid pants match those striped shirts.

• Yes, times have changed, especially if you are thinking of taking a trip. Instead of the old way of visiting a travel agent (remember them?) to make airline and hotel reservations, find a teenager with a cell phone and you’ll get a good deal in minutes.

• If you’re older than 70, you should really think twice about keeping your hair in a ponytail (see “The Truth about Comb-Overs” in the AARP Bulletin.)

Bob Kalish observes life from a placid place on the island of Arrowsic (motto: You’re not in Georgetown yet). You can reach him at bobkalish@gmail.com.

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