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Find good advice on graceful aging at library

By Rebecca Hyde
Rowan Public Library
What is ěagingî? It is not a disease, but a developmental process that affects body and mind. In the ěArt of Aging: A Doctorís Prescription for Well-Being,î Dr. Sherwin Nuland, clinical professor of surgery at Yale University, describes the aging process and suggests ways we can ěattuneî ourselves to its progress. We can choose to take an active, creative part in cultivating our personal art of aging.
According to the professional literature of geriatrics, the ability to adapt, to learn and then accept oneís limitations is a determinant of ěsuccessful aging.î Nuland prefers ěattuneî to ěadaptî: attuning ourselves to the passage of years means being ěnewly receptive to signals welcome and unwelcome, to a variety of experiences not previously within our range, while achieving a kind of harmony with the real circumstances of our lives.î
For Nuland the ěreal circumstances of our livesî do not include a vision of an ageless future in which the responses of our bodies to the passage of time, heredity, and the biology of life can be rearranged to prevent or even reverse aging. His ěprescription for well-beingî is not a detailed list of rules to follow but rather a description of those people who have lived creative and productive lives, managing limitations and chronic illnesses.
There is a remarkable portrait of Michael DeBakey, who lived a life of ěvibrant longevity.î What goals did he have at the age of 96? He just had a schedule of things that needed to be done, but didnít dwell on whether he was going to be alive to do them. ěIím absolutely sure Iíll arrive to where Iím goingî was DeBakeyís philosophy, which applied to getting on a plane or death.
Two other books examine aging with differing doses of inspiration and hard realism. In ěThe Gift of Years: Growing Older Gracefully,î Joan Chittister, a Benedictine sister, offers a collection of essays on the rewards of ěmature lifeî or aging well. It is time to let go of fantasies of eternal youth and fears of getting older and engage in a new stage of life. And it has its own purpose, which is to give us time to assimilate and make new choices in the way we live.
Susan Jacoby wrote ěNever Say Die: The Myth and Marketing of the New Old Age.î She is a critic of the ěyoung old ageî or ěnew old ageî featured in American culture. This new norm presents ěa formidable obstacle to any effort to deal pragmatically with the social, economic, and medical problems associated with real old age.î
As for the individual, the right to feel rotten affords better preparation for suffering and loss than inflated expectations that lead to real despair: Itís energizing. Jacoby was amazed at the intensity (and poetry) of her grandmotherís awareness of death. The old woman mourned the end of her usefulness but looking at the river said, ěItís good to know that the beauty of the world will go on without me.î
Computer classes: Classes are free. Sessions are approximately 90 minutes long. Class size is limited and on a first- come, first-serve basis. Dates and times at all locations are subject to change without notice.
Headquarters ó Dec. 15, 9:30 a.m., Intermediate Word.
South ó Dec. 12, 7 p.m., Intermediate Word
East (registration required, call Paul at 704-216-7841) ó Dec. 13, 1 p.m., Intermediate Word.
Holiday Pajama Express at South Branch ó Tuesday, 6 p.m. Dress in your pajamas and come enjoy stories, crafts and hot chocolate. Please call 704-216-7728 for more information.
Stories by the Fireplace at East Branch ó Dec. 10, 10:30 a.m. There will be stories and crafts and a special guest, ho, ho, ho! Please call 704-216-7842 for more information.
Nutcracker story ó Headquarters, Dec. 13, 6 p.m. Stanback Auditorium. RPL and Salisbury Symphony Orchestra presents ěThe Nutcrackerî story. Hear and see part of the ěNutcrackerî ballet. Meet and greet some of the ballerinas who will be appearing in the ěNutcrackerî at the symphony. For more information call 704-216-8234.
Holiday ěTea Partyî Storytime ó Headquarters, Dec. 14, 11 a.m. Get dressed up and come see us for a special Storytime and Tea Party. Weíll hear holiday stories, make a tree ornament and enjoy some delicious refreshments. For more information please call 704-216-8234.
December library hours ó Dec. 24-27, all locations closed for Christmas holiday.
Displays: Headquarters, Kwanzaa by Eleanor Qadirah, Sacred Heart; South, Christmas theme by Lizbeth Murph; East, holiday by Mary Earnhardt.
Literacy: Call the Rowan County Literacy Council at 704-216-8266 for more information on teaching or receiving literacy tutoring for English speakers or for those for whom English is a second language.

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