Are you getting older?

Are you? I hope so. Just stop and think about the alternative. Pretty bleak. Dead, in fact. Aging is graceful, no matter how you do it. As the shoe company says, "Just do it!". The fact is, aging is getting a lot of bad press. Nobody likes to get older but we all do. Why not, though, not getting older is bad for your health.

Most older people think back on their lives and take stock of their existence. That is a good thing to do. Unfortunately, many people also compare their last 20, 30 or 40 years with their next years. The fact is, most people's future is likely to be a lot different than their past. This isn't a bad thing, it's just different.

Take driving, for example. Maybe you were a big time race driver in your youth. Maybe you were an endurance driver. Maybe a Baja 500 participant. No matter. As you age, your driving will be different. You may lose ability. The state may want to test you. You may fail. Don't take this as a personal insult. It's a fact of life. It's also not your fault. As you age, you naturally lose certain skills like eyesight, hearing and other faculties. If you are incapable of driving, that may be OK. The problem is, of course, being told not to drive is different than chosing not to drive.

When you get to a certain age, say 80, maybe you should take stock of your current ability. Note that word, "Current". You may have won the Indianapolis 500 when you where 27 years old. That was a while ago. Now, at 80, there is no way that you can win the race again. You shouldn't even try. If the state tells you that you can't drive anymore, they may know what they are talking about.

Of course, if you are younger than 80, you can take steps to prolong your driving ability. Pay close attention and drive extremely well at all times. You have to be the best driver on the road. Otherwise, you'll be regretting the lose of your license in a few years.

We all regret getting older, even though we know the alternative is worse. Having to surrender your driving license, or moving into a care facility, is seen as a failure of life. This is really unfortunate. Instead, these realities should be looked at as a natural progression. True, there may be life changes needed to allow you to adapt. If you live 50 miles down a country lane, you may not want to be there anymore without a car and a driver's license. Moving into a town home might be a great idea.

People have lived without driving for many years. Simply moving into the town may be enough to deal with the loss of your driver's license due to age. In town, you can walk to the store, the doctor, the gym. You can just plain walk. If you live in the woods, you might not want to walk at all. Moving into town might be a step up, in some ways.

Think, for a moment, what a car costs. First there is the capital cost. $20,000 is not unreasonable. That takes a lot of your resources. If you already have a paid off car, what is it's condition? As they age, cars need a lot of maintenance. Even if you don't drive a lot, you'll have to pay for car care. It could easily run into several thousand dollars per year. Then there is the operating costs of oil, gas and other vital fluids. Insurance can be a major cost. All told, the total amount you have to spend on a car is a small, (or medium), fortune. In fact, all of those thousands of dollars will pay for a lot of bus or taxi rides. You may even be able to hire a personal driver, or your grand children, to take you around.

The same goes for life in a care home. If you can't take care of yourself easily, a care home may be a great alternative. You can get the assistance that you need. This is especially helpful for those who have lost their spouse. Often when one partner in a relationship goes, the other is quite unprepared for the realities of life. This is really true if the primary duties were performed by the departed individual. The survivor may need professional help. That's OK.

These days, assisted living is more common than ever. Rather than thinking that it is a failure, you should accept that it is a change in life that has to be made. What are you afraid of? A care facility has a bunch of people who are much like you. Some won't be, to be sure, but there should be many who are. They will be your age. They have a similar background. You may even have friends at the home. If not, you'll make friends there fast if you try. Be positive and accepting. There is nothing wrong with having to move into such a place.

If you are reading this article and you are the child of an aged person, keep in mind that you can help them adjust to their new living arrangements. Don't panic, as they might, when told that a driver's licence has to be surrendered. Find the workable alternatives. Taxis, buses and similar modes of transportation are available in most regions. If your relative lives out in the woods, find a way to get them into town. If they insist on staying put, explain the realities. It is much easier, and preferable, to be in town, even in a care home, than to be alone miles from shops and services.

Getting older is the best. Birthdays are great. People live longer if they have more of them. That is a fact. There are problems with aging but we can overcome. Family members can help. Services for the elderly can help. There are a lot of helping agencies in most cities. Find out about the services before you need them or before your elderly relatives need them. Good luck with the aging process!