Keeping a sense of yourself but still being open to change requires a willingness to try new ideas balanced with good judgment.

Take hairstyles, for instance. My hairdresser tries to keep me current, but it gets harder in this youth-focused culture.

The last haircut he gave me is typical of what you see in the magazines lately. He sent me out looking pretty good, but when I style it on my own, I tend to look shaggy. I am a hair-spray woman trying to fit into a super-gel world.

Before I went gray I was a brunette. Not wanting to own up to aging, I became an ash blonde thinking the color was kinder to wrinkled faces and easier to keep up. But in my mind's eye, I am still a person with dark hair, so I'm often surprised at the image looking back at me. It is not a bad image for my age having been the beneficiary of good advice and medical advances available to my generation.

It is just not who I picture myself to be.

There is a poignant Barry Manilow song about two old people aware of how they look to their young friend, but wanting him to realize their worth..

They tell him, "I bet you think that what you're lookin' at is all we are. Two old people forgetting the way we were, Sonny! No one is what they look like. Everyone's so much more, and we're not what you see, that's for sure ... "

It's for this very reason that people in nursing homes should always prominently display a picture of themselves in their prime so the staff can see them as having once been a young and vital person.

Keeping up is a great challenge mentally as well as physically. As older adults we've had more experiences, so there is more to remember.

Memory lapses sometimes put me in a panic, but I have learned that if I keep calm and wait a minute somehow the synapses still do connect, and until they do, I try to blame it on my computer (i.e., my brain) being too full.

Technology, such a necessary part of our daily existence, moves quickly and often, the new item added to our "necessities for life" isn't as simple as it appears. Every cell phone, house alarm, printer or sundry other "necessity" comes with a manual.

I really hate reading directions, but unless I use the device every day I never quite remember how it works and often end up with book in hand trying to program something.

In life there is always a trade-off. Technology — when not frustrating — can be a great boon to someone who is having a problem with vision, hearing, mobility or memory loss. It is called assistive technology or AT because it solves many of the physical and mental problems people encounter.

For instance, higher and lower tones tend to fade away as we age. Devices that control volume and pitch can bring these tones back. For people who develop a problem, a quick visit to the Internet will probably turn up an AT that can help.

What we don't need is technology and modern science enlarging the parameters in unnatural ways.

I received a funny e-mail the other day about a 65-year-old woman whose friends wanted to see her new baby. They waited impatiently and finally asked why they couldn't see the baby. The woman answered, "I forgot where I put it so I am waiting for it to cry."

Writer and painter Henry Miller wisely surmised: Develop interest in life as you see it; in people, things, literature, music — the world is so rich, simply throbbing with rich treasures, beautiful souls and interesting people. Forget yourself.

We do not need to become invisible as we age. The image we desire needs to be worked on and kept in focus so it won't blur, lose color or just fade away.

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