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Linda & Richard Eyre: Why being a ‘senior’ is such a good thing

Published: Tuesday, June 4 2013 6:37 p.m. MDT

Shirley Petersen poses for a portrait at the Utah Conference for Seniors in Salt Lake City, Monday, Aug. 20, 2012.

Ravell Call, Deseret News

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Editor’s note: This is the final installment of a three-part series on the gift of aging. Read more here and here.

I (Linda) used to get very annoyed when Richard would say “two seniors” to the person in the movie box office. On the other hand, I loved it when the ticket person would ask for my ID to prove I was a senior.

The worst thing was when Rick forgot to ask for the discount and someone would look right at me and say “senior?”

Wait, there actually is a worse thing than that. It was when I started getting the AARP magazine when I had just turned 55.

Richard, though, will take any good deal anywhere, anytime. Lately, I’ve come around a little more to his way of thinking.

My view — this is Richard now — is that while I don’t want to seem old or act old or be thought of as old, I do love this “senior” thing. And why not? Why shouldn’t I, and why shouldn’t you?

You’ve earned it. If someone wants to give you a better price on a movie or a hotel or an airline ticket, go for it.

And there are some much bigger gifts in there, too. Buy a life annuity and live longer than the actuarial tables and laugh all the way to the bank. If you are 60 and you buy a life annuity, they will set it up with a monthly payment that will pay back your full principal with interest by the time you are about 83. So if you live to 93 you will get that same monthly payment as a bonus for 10 more years.

If you think about it hard enough and rationalize long enough, you can convince yourself that there are actually no drawbacks at all to a little aging. I do it all the time with sports.

I was a 5.0 level tennis player in college and maintained that level for a few more years. But when everyone started beating me in the 5.0 divisions, I just dropped down to 4.5 and for a while, I could win or hold my own again. A few years later, I opted down again to the 4.0 and was competitive again. It all works out.

I used to think water skiing meant the sharpest cuts and the highest spray, and snow skiing meant the double-black diamonds. Now I have the more enlightened view that smooth, aesthetic skiing where you see and appreciate the world around you is the best way to go on water or on snow.

Golf’s an easy one — you just increase your handicap to where you are as good as ever.

Scuba diving used to be about how deep and how dangerous. Now it’s about longer dives in shallower, warmer, more sunlit and reef fish-filled water. I enjoy it more.

Maybe biking is the best example or metaphor of all. I used to think of mountain biking as a combination of joy and torture. I loved the trails it took me to, but I was so busy thinking about my muscle burn and getting enough air into my oxygen-starved lungs that I missed a lot of the scenery that was going by.

I still go on all the very same trails now, but I have this wonderful electrical assist bike where all I have to do is turn a switch on the handle to have a little help on the hills.

That’s a lot like aging in general. Keep on your same trails but provide yourself with a little assist now and then. You know how to do that, and you’ve earned it.

The way life works now, early in this 21st century, there is virtually nothing you could do in your 30s or 40s that you can’t still do now — with a little assist from an electrical switch or a scoring or handicapping system or a fresh attitude.

You can do all you ever did and enjoy it now more than ever.

Richard and Linda Eyre are New York Times best-selling authors who lecture throughout the world on family-related topics. Visit them anytime at www.EyresFreeBooks.com or www.valuesparenting.com. Their latest Deseret e-book is “On the Homefront."

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