Reflections on Aging Well

Author, Living with Purpose in a Worn-out Body: Spiritual Encouragement for Older Adults (Upper Room) and Columnist, Aging Well, United Methodist Reporter

Betty White and SNL: Is aging all about attitude? May 14, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — missybu @ 9:26 am

Like millions of people who watched 88 year-old Betty White host Saturday Night Live, I was amazed by her flawless comic timing and her ability to handle the pressure of a complex live show. She boosted SNL’s ratings with her sass and charm, prompting a sort of intergenerational lovefest across the country. Not surprisingly, there have been lots of comments and tweets from younger adults who are clamoring for their own Nanas and Mamaws to be more like Ms. White. 

It got me to thinking. Sure, older adults can take inspiration in Ms. White’s  willingness to stretch beyond her comfort zone. She obviously has a great attitude about aging.  It is no wonder that some young adults wish their couch-potato grandparents would  put more pizzazz into their own lives.

However, I must offer a word of caution. Not all 88 year-olds have the overall good health of Ms. White. Many face tough health issues and decline through no fault of their own. When well-intentioned family members make comments like, “Why can’t you be more like Betty White?”, many older adults are likely to feel scolded or inferior as if they are not trying hard enough.

So while we celebrate Betty White’s success, let us remember that not all octogenarians are the same. We need to focus on the individual and not get caught in a trap of comparison. Aging really is more than attitude.

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Facebook, Twitter and face-to-face May 2, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — missybu @ 7:22 pm

I just spent two full days with 7000 women and a few good men.  St. Louis, MO opened its gateway arms to embrace the 2010 Assembly of United Methodist Women. I was invited to participate as the author of two books on the UMWs Reading Program. 

For hours, I watched women wander the Experience Hall where I spent most of my time chatting with the women and signing copies of Talking with God in Old Age and Living with Purpose in a Worn-Out Body. 

I loved watching women in their 50’s, 60’s and 70’s pack the Computer Lab for hands-on workshops. Many were anxious to learn how to utilize social media like Facebook and Twitter. As I talked with some of the women, it struck me that they seemed to be  attending the workshops not so much because they wanted to, but because they felt they needed to in order to better understand the changing world. I smiled and applauded their willingness to explore the unknown.

Most of all, I loved visiting with older women who came with walkers and canes to the booksigning table or to the Upper Room booth where I spent time interacting with participants. I was touched by the effort many of the older women gave to navigating the enormous convention center. I loved looking into their aging faces and hearing their stories of their younger years and how they had been involved in local church mission work for so long. 

I teared up when one 84 year-old woman using a cane asked me to sign a book. Her eyes were misty, her voice trembled. “I got your book yesterday and read it last night. I had to come back and get another copy for my friend who just moved to assisted living. I know it will help her.”  I thought to myself, the older woman’s kind words meant more to me than any book review ever could!

It reminded me of the importance of connecting with people.  Facebook and Twitter can never take the place of face-to-face connections, but they can certainly help us build relationships. It seems to me that young, old, and middle-aged… relationships are what life is about.