52 ODES TO JOY: BETTER WITH AGE

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“Grow old along with me!

The best is yet to be…”

– Robert Browning

The JOYrontologist” recommends: If you only read one book about joyous aging in your one precious life, let it be “BETTER WITH AGE: The Psychology of Successful Aging” by Dr. Alan D. Castel.

BETTER WITH AGE should not only be required reading in every university gerontology program in America, but also in the personal collection of every thinking American who has the good fortune to have reached middle age and can be looking forward to their future.

“The book title, BETTER WITH AGE,” the author said, “may make one think of a fine wine that ages well with time, but like wine making, successful aging can be an active and involved process that requires development over time. This book shows how we can get better with age and enjoy the benefits of old age.”

BETTER WITH AGE, published by the Oxford University Press in 2018, is such a joyful, yet honest, book about aging that had it existed when I began my gerontology studies in the 1970s, I might have continued on a more traditional path toward a social work doctorate. Throughout my dog-eared copy, I’ve highlighted numerous passages where Dr. Castel’s words reinforce what I call “The S.U.N.S. (Smile-Making, Uniting, Neighboring, Spellbinding) Joyous Aging System.”

Here are some favorite examples:

SMILE-MAKING (Positive Thinking and Positive Doing)

“Successful aging can start at any age, and there is a lot you can do now to enjoy the benefits of old age.”

“Yet the best marker for your age, and your longevity and overall health, is how old you feel—something known as your subjective age.”

“Research shows that attitudes one holds about aging are related to how well one actually ages—even when these attitudes are assessed years before one enters old age.”

“Happiness can be defined as both the feeling of pleasure and the feeling of overall contentment.”

“Happiness appears to peak in young adulthood, hit a low point during the late 40s and 50s, and then increase again into later life and old age.” (Data based on 300,000-person study in 2010)

“Some research suggests that babies laugh up to 300 times a day, whereas adults laugh 20 times a day.”

UNITING (Deeply Connecting)

“Goals change with age, and we may be more selective about what to focus on when we are older, often focusing on emotionally meaningful goals, such as spending time with family and friends…”

“As we get older, we become connoisseurs of what we need to remember.”

“…Some research suggests that older adults, without formal psychology training, are, in fact, adept at analyzing interpersonal conflict, much like a trained clinical psychologist.”

“Friendships are one of the best formulas for preventing loneliness, especially during a life transition such as retirement.”

“You might want to find friends who have a positive outlook on aging, as being socially connected to people that are important to you may be one of the more underappreciated ways to stay healthy and enjoy old age.”

NEIGHBORING (Others-Centeredness)

“…Wisdom, expertise, and creativity may be intricately linked, and they may all be enhanced with age and considered a benefit of old age.”

“Older age may allow us the opportunity to be more creative after having established some credibility in a domain…”

“Wisdom was defined as the ability to see problems from multiple perspectives and show sensitivity to social relationships.”

“Now Read This: Reading Makes Us Sharper and More Socially Aware.”

“Regular social engagement is associated with a stronger immune system.”

SPELLBINDING (Meaningful Accomplishment)

“There are no shortages of brain-challenging things to do every day, so we don’t need to seek out video games to stimulate our brains.”

“(Warren) Buffett credits his own success to reading voraciously; he typically spends 80% of his day reading.”

“Meaningful aging does not involve “winners and losers” in terms of longevity and health, but rather the need to focus on what is most meaningful to a person, especially in older age.”

“Moderate amounts of physical exercise, such as walking, and diet can play an important role and can modify the brain and body in important ways, reducing the likelihood of developing dementia.”

“Wisdom is more than knowledge, and wisdom is not Wikipedia.”

“There is something to be gained by being slow if slowing down can make you more present, more mindful, and more aware of other people’s perspectives.”

“There is no one secret or silver bullet that protects us in old age from cognitive decline. However, probably the most surprising thing we can do to keep sharp is physical exercise…walking actually appears to even reverse the effects of aging…The simple answer is blood flow…”

BETTER WITH AGE, Dr. Castel’s terrific book, ends with this sage comment:

“There is no shortcut to successful aging, just as there is no way to avoid aging. There are many, different ways to achieve successful aging. One plan may be to think about old age early in life, to identify the positives and anticipate the challenges, and to have your own role models of successful aging. Whatever your age, now is the time to think about successful aging.”

BETTER WITH AGE ODES FROM OTHERS

“It takes no more time to see the good side of life than to see the bad.”—Jimmy Buffett

“Wrinkles should merely indicate where smiles have been.”—Mark Twain

“I will never be an old man. To me, old age is always 15 years older than I am.”—Francis Bacon

“The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook.”—William James

“Whatever you do in life, surround yourself with smart people who’ll argue with you.”—John Wooden

“While everybody has some wisdom, an unwise person is unkind, cruel, brutish…”—Maya Angelou

BETTER WITH AGE WINE & CHEESE LAFFS

– I don’t spend a lot on a bottle of wine; only about 15 minutes.

– My wife and I have the secret to making a marriage last. Two times a week we go to a wine bar. She goes on Tuesdays, and I go on Fridays.

– I’ve taught my dog to fetch a glass of red wine. He’s a Bordeaux Collie.

– I bought a bottle of wine but was worried the grocery sack was tearing and I’d drop it on the way home. So, I decided to drink it. It’s a good thing I did, I fell off my bike 8 times.

– People who don’t eat cheese because they are lactose intolerant need to learn to be more accepting of different cultures.

– Two French cheese trucks collided; de Brie was everywhere!

– Better with age? My mother-in-law has aged like a fine, red wine. Too much of her and I get a headache.

JOY-GIVERS CELEBRATING A BIRTHDAY THIS WEEK

Sept. 3—Kaia Gerber

Sept. 4—Beyonce’

Sep.t 5—Bob Newhart

Sept. 6—Jeff Foxworthy

Sept. 7—Grandma Moses

Sept. 8—Patsy Cline

Sept. 9—Adam Sandler

LAUGHING COW WALNUT CHEESEBALL—NEW MEXICO WALNUTS

(Source: landolakes.com)

Each week, “The JOYrontologist” shares a recipe saluting a healthy food produced in America. This delicious and nutritious collection is called “The S.U.N.S. Longevity Cookbook” and highlights vitamin B-3 (niacin) which many gerontologists believe holds the promise for a long, healthy, joyful life.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 (8 oz.) container Laughing Cow cheese (original flavor)
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 (8 oz.) container sharp cheddar cold pack cheese
  • 1 (4 oz.) package blue cheese, crumbled
  • 3/4 tsp. dried dill weed
  • 1/2 tsp. dried basil leaves
  • 1/2 tsp. celery salt
  • 1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • 2 tsp. finely chopped fresh garlic
  • 1 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • Dippers: crackers, pita chips, apple/pear slices

DIRECTIONS

  1. Combine all cheese ball ingredients except walnuts and parsley in bowl. Mash with fork and beat at low speed, scraping bowl often, until well mixed. Cover; refrigerate 3 hours or overnight until firm.
  2. Combine walnuts and parsley in a bowl.
  3. Shape cheese mixture into a ball; roll in walnut mixture to coat.
  4. Serve with dippers and…LAFF EVRY DAY!

“The JOYrontologist” recommends a BETTER WITH AGE wine to pair with the Laughing Cow Walnut Cheeseball: Pares Balta Blanca Cusine 2012 Gran Reserva Brut Nature. This organic, sparkling wine is made the time-honored way, about 30 miles south of Barcelona, Spain, using grapes harvested by hand and aged at least 72 months.

1,070 JOY-GIVING THINGS FROM MY FIRST 70 YEARS (continued)

773. “Days of Wine and Roses,” film (1962)

774. “Days of Wine and Roses” title song performed by Andy Williams

775. Aged blue jeans

776. Time-seasoned cast iron skillets

777. Whiskey aged for a decade

778. Flannel sheets that get softer every year

779. People who get kinder every year

780. The mature wisdom to “pick your battles”

781. Mac and cheese made with Humboldt Fog goat cheese

782. Aged gouda in Amsterdam

783. Aged Parmigiano-Reggiano in Rome

784. The resonate timber of older wood musical instruments like violins and ukuleles

785. Pickles that age over winter

786. Reading the classics that hold up over time

787. “Red Red Wine” written and sung by Neil Diamond

788. “Red Red Wine” reimagined by UB40

789. Leather boots that soften as they mold to your feet over time

790. Unglazed tea pots that soak up and release flavor over time

791. Dry-aged beef in Colorado

792. My mother praying my tastes in design would “mature over time”

793. Cold, leftover meatloaf sandwiches

794. Slow-smoked pulled pork

795. 12-year-old Balsamic vinegar

796. Old leather wallets that curve

797. Dad’s leathery, old hands

798. The superior storytelling by elders

799. Propagating seedlings that grow to trees with the Alabama Master Gardeners

800. “Summer Wine” sung by Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood

801. “The Best is Yet to Come” sung by Frank Sinatra

HAPPY SEPTEMBER & YEARS THAT GET BETTER WITH TIME!

Read all the installments in this series at www.cullmantribune.com/tag/odes-to-joy-2022.