Summary: Gives some guidelines for aging gracefully from the examples of Simeon and Anna.
DATE: July 15, 2001
THEME: "How to Age With Grace"
“There is something happening to every one of you this very moment as you sit here in church. Imperceptibly, but relentlessly. You are getting older - aging. The causes are uncertain, probably because our body’s cells only have a limited capacity to duplicate—perhaps 50 times and then they stop, but the result is inevitable.”
The Encarta Encyclopedia defines aging as the “irreversible biological changes that occur in all living things with the passage of time, eventually resulting in death.”
In developed nations, life expectancy has increased more in the 20th century than it has in all of recorded history. A person born in the United States in 1995 can expect to live more than 35 years longer than a person born in 1900. Today more than 34 million Americans are 65 or older, accounting for about 13 percent of the population. By the year 2030, their numbers will more than double: One in every five Americans will be over age 65. A person who lives 100 years or more—a centenarian—was once a rarity, but today about 60,000 Americans are 100 years or older. By the year 2060, there may be as many as 2.5 million centenarians in the United States. The number of supercentenarians—people 105 years of age and older—will probably be as commonplace in the next century as centenarians are fast becoming now.
In some parts of the world, 16 to 18 percent of the population is already age 65 or older. By the year 2025, Japan is expected to have twice as many old people as children. Also by that time, there will be more than one billion older people worldwide. This increase in life expectancy is the result of better public health measures, improvements in living conditions, and advances in medical care. A marked reduction in infant mortality rates has also contributed to increased life expectancy statistics.
Since we are all aging, the question I want to ask is “How can we age with grace?”
Hear what one person writes:
Everyone I know is thirty-five.
Donna in my writing class is thirty-five,
Melissa, the artist, is thirty-five.
Last night when I lay sleeping
Someone slipped in and
Scribbled lines all over my face,
Stuck bags under my eyes,
Packed cellulite on my thighs.
This morning my mother’s hand
Reached to get my toothbrush;
An unfamiliar face
Stared back at me from the vanity;
Someone else’s stomach
Protruded from beneath my belt.
The kudzu of middle age has overtaken me.
Cholesterol clogs my arteries
Like milfoil on the Tennessee River.
Yesterday I was thirty-five.
Today I am forty-five.
I had intended to age elegantly --
Grow lean like Louis Nevelson,
Craggy like O’Keeffe,
Not squat like Gertrude Stein.
Tomorrow I am going to buy a new mirror,
Have my hair dyed,
Phone for a face lift.
Meanwhile I am going to claim
that my children belong to my husband
from a former marriage.
And I am going to lie --
about my age;
I am going to say,
"I am only thirty-five."
Penne J. Laubenthal, Ph.D.
How then do we grow old with grace? The passage we read gives us some insight from the lives of the two aged saints – Simeon and Anna. Here are seven (7) suggestions.