Loretta LaRoche: Aging is not optional

Loretta LaRoche

I spent the past three days at the AARP convention in Boston. I remember my mother getting AARP information in the mail. I used to think: “I’m never going to join that!” After all, I was a 30-something married mother of three who was going to stay young forever and not have one problem. Wrong on both counts.

We either get old or die young, those are the two choices. The thought of getting older and what that means doesn’t seem to penetrate our psyche until we start seeing or feeling some of the signs.

As a nation, we spend a lot of time trying to fool ourselves into believing that aging is optional. We are often at the mercy of media messages that hypnotize us into believing that aging comes from the outside in, rather than the inside out. After all, you can buy creams that tighten and tone, wash down handfuls of vitamins that are supposed to be elixirs of youth, and you can always have plastic surgery.

The latter option is filled with possibilities that can eliminate the ravages of time. Wrinkles can be removed or softened, jowls can be sucked away and almost anything can be lifted and tucked. If you aren’t careful, you can wind up looking like you just came out of a wind tunnel. Medical interventions and pharmaceuticals can help eliminate or alleviate years of bad health habits.

But what most of us seem to forget is that aging starts the minute we’re born. Parents who don’t have a clue about good nutrition or exercise habits can exacerbate our aging process. If we don’t get good information along the way as to how to change our behavior, or have the desire to, we will not age well. I truly wish the art of aging well could be taught starting in the first grade. Imagine if we could fall in love with fruits, vegetables, and grains from the get go. What if every child realized sitting behind a video game or watching television for hours could shorten his life. How about developing skills that help with relaxing and staying calm through life’s ups and downs? And wouldn’t it be wonderful if we were all given more permission to laugh often and with gusto? I wonder if the results would be fewer heart attacks and strokes.

When I talked to a group of people at the convention about some of these issues, they all nodded their heads in agreement. The greatest gift one gets from aging is wisdom. So why not use it and get on the bandwagon to feel mentally and physically as good as you can. Your family will appreciate it. And even if you’re young, don’t take your body and mind for granted. You only get one, unless you’re onto something none of the rest of us knows about.

The Patriot Ledger

Author, humorist, PBS star and Fortune 500 trainer Loretta LaRoche lives in Plymouth. To share your pet peeves, questions or comments, write to The Humor Potential, 50 Court St., Plymouth 02360, send e-mail to getalife@lorettalaroche.com, visit the Web site at www.stressed.com, or call 800-99-TADAH (82324).