David Petty on Aging Gracefully

Interview of David L. Petty by Dick Staub

Well, good afternoon everybody. This is your friendly guide, Dick Staub. And you know, sooner or later you realize that you’re getting older. It happens to everybody. But this time it is you. Well, how do you handle this? The answer to that question is what will make all the difference in the world, according to our next guest, who is an expert on the subject. He is a professional gerontologist, having served in an academic capacity, studying the subject, teaching it. He’s now retired, referring to David Petty, who is the author of a wonderful new book called Aging Gracefully, published by Broadman and Holman. The subtitle is delightful as well, Keeping the Joy in the Journey.

Q. And Dave, thank you so much for joining us today.
A. Thank you, Dick. Pleased to be with you.

Q. So what in the world made you want to be a gerontologist when you grew up?
A. Well, I studied sociology in my advanced work.

Q. Yeah.
A. And I got interested in aging and various kinds of things that go with it. I was interested in older people. The ones I had been around were important to me.

Q. Yeah.
A. So I wanted to see what I could find in a professional, academic way that would relate to them.

Q. Who-who… Where were you raised and who were some of those aging people that were important to you?
A. I was raised in Houston, Texas.

Q. Yeah.
A. And probably one of the most influential persons in my life was my maternal grandfather.

Q. Hm.
A. I was named for him. His first name was Davis, D-a-v-i-s.

Q. Wow.
A. Mom called me David, after him.

Q. Yeah.
A. We spent a lot of time together.

Q. You know, I just wrote a piece for my website today called “The Continuum,” and it grew out of a conversation we had on this show about the death of-of Larry Burkett and Dr. Paul Brand, and the fact that in each case they were men who had received the faith from someone and who had then faithfully turned around and passed it on to many others. And-and I pointed out to the audience that I often think. when I am reminded of the death of someone who’s had a tremendous spiritual influence, I ask myself, Have I been faithful to the trust of what has been invested in me? And as is the case in your life, those people are older than me. They’re people that made a huge impact on my life. And to me, one of the most grievous developments in American culture is the degree to which the younger generation is often not as connected to the older generation as we once were.
A. And that was one reason for my writing the book. I certainly understand what you’re saying. And they have so much to offer.

Q. Yeah.
A. We-we have a responsibility, I think, to try to extract that.

Q. Now, how have things changed for the aging in the years that you’ve been studying this subject? I mean, you’ve described in your book, “a revolutionary shift.” What’s changed?
A. Well of course, that was beginning with our revolutionary days, quite some time ago. In my time it hasn’t changed all that much. Things are negative toward older people.

Q. Yeah.
A. Largely. But they didn’t start out that way.

Q. Talk about how they started out.
A. They started out by us revering the elderly in our society, much as some other cultures even now do. And so you-you went to people and you talked to them and you sat at their feet and you asked them questions and you drank in what they shared with you. But now we sort of want to put them out to pasture, put them up on a shelf.

Q. Yeah.
A. And really not fool with them much.

Q. You know, there was an article in the paper about an executive at one of the television networks that’s programming for teenagers and it said that “He has achieved the goal of every television executive. That is, he thinks and acts like a teenager.” I thought, when I read that, what an absolutely – and I mean no offense to any teenager listening right now – but you know, in the good old days that would have been considered backwards and even kind of foolish. I mean, the goal of a-a-a person in their 40’s, 50’s, and older, was to act their age and to have something of value and character to pass on to this younger generation. How has this emphasis and this kind of worshipping of youth effected the, negatively effected the role of-of-of older people in our society?
A. Well, I think it certainly has-has gone right along with it. Teenagers are certainly unique. They are filled with exuberance and energy and so forth. And I know that as we become older we sort of wish for that some more. But as far as wisdom and experience, they just haven’t experienced it yet.

Q. Yeah.
A. And they have a lot to look forward to, hopefully.

Q. Now you know, I drove through the Arches National Park in Utah a few weeks ago, and the thing that struck me as I was listening to the description of how these arches were formed is that it took a lot of time.
A. Indeed.

Q. To get something that beautiful and that strong and, of course, the arches are those-those hard rocks that have sustained the-the weathering of time, of wind and water, and-and sand. Things of less substance are-are kind eroded away. But what is remaining is both beautiful and majestic and also seasoned. And it struck me that those are things you-you, it’s impossible to get without aging. In other words –and your book of course deals with this – the fact that aging is not a negative thing. And as a matter of fact, there are things that-that people of age can offer that are not available to anybody else.
A. Absolutely. Absolutely. I’m thinking of two things as you mention this example. First of all, it’s God’s work that created these arches.

Q. Yes.
A. You know, the erosion process and so forth, and it’s also His work that creates a delightful elderly person who allows Him to work in his life.

Q. Yes. Absolutely. I agree with you completely. What are some of the negative stereotypes that we have of aging people in our society?
A. Well, I think-I think I used the word “old fuddy duddy” –

Q. Yeah.
A. – for men, and “old busybody” for a lady.

Q. Yeah.
A. Those are fairly commonly used nowadays. But just the idea that as a person becomes older and is leaving the work force they’re useless.

Q. Yeah.
A. They have nothing more to offer.

Q. Yeah.
A. And that’s really unfortunate.

Q. Well, and the aging people are experiencing a lot of prejudice and a lot of discrimination in our society.
A. That’s correct. That is correct.

Q. Then you-you have a whole addendum to the book called “Debunking the Myths.” What are some of the-what are some of the myths that are held by people in our society that are simply not true about the aging?
A. Well, I think that the gentleman that I cited there did an excellent job in pointing those out. But I’ve already mentioned one, and that is that we can no longer be productive.

Q. Yes.
A. Or that we can no longer learn.

Q. Yes.
A. And let’s see, I’m…

Q. We’ve got-we’ve got the idea that most old people are isolated from their families.
A. That’s correct.

Q. The majority of old people are in poor health, that old people are more likely than younger people to be victimized by crime, the majority of old people live in poverty, old people tend to become more religious as they age, old people who are retired usually suffer a decline in health and early death, most old people have no interest in or a capacity for sexual relations, most old people end up in nursing homes and other long-term institutions. All those are false.
A. Every one of them are false.

Oh man, we’ve got to take a quick break. We’re going to be back with more of our guest, David Petty. He is the author of Aging Gracefully, published by Broadman and Holman. Keeping the Joy in the Journey. We’ll be right back.

(Break)

Well, this is Dick Staub back with you. We’re visiting with Dr. David Petty. He is the author of Aging Gracefully, published by Broadman and Holman. The subtitle is Keeping the Joy in the Journey.

Q. We were just dispelling some of the-some of the-the myths associated with aging. And it is a fascinating list. Dave, when we ask the question… Well, tell me, how and when do most people start noticing that this is an issue they must face?
A. I believe that we-we, it begins to make an impact on us when we see some physical changes.

Q. Yeah.
A. The most obvious.

Q. Yeah.
A. And you know, you look in the mirror every day to get ready for work, et cetera –

Q. Yeah.
A. – and you begin to see a wrinkle here or there, or a gray hair, or whatever –

Q. Yeah.
A. – and then-and then you say, well hey, how old am I?

Q. Yeah.
A. I’m changing.

Q. Yeah.
A. So that’s… It’s the physical thing that-that…

Q. Usually triggers it. So it’s the-it’s the guy that goes into the doctor, the doctor says you need to take off a few pounds, and you say, You know, I don’t seem to be able to take them off as fast as I used to be able to. That kind of stuff.
A. That’s right. Metabolism is changing.

Q. Metabolism is changing. Now-now, I had an interesting thing happen and I’m going to bear my own soul here. I’m 55 years old. And my father listens to this show. He’s 80. And I was sharing with him, when I got back from vacation this last time, that I have never had a more difficult time going back to work, and I’ve never in my life contemplated that I might actually enjoy retiring –
A. Ah.

Q. – until-until I hit the age of 55. And I’ve never had that attitude before. And he-he confessed to me that in his 50’s some of the kind of ambitions and energies that had driven him earlier started to drop away a bit. He kind of changed his approach to life in his 50’s. But then he also pointed out to me you’re way too young to be thinking about retirement. Now, to some people listening right now, 55 seems really old. To somebody like my dad, 80 years old, 55 is kind of the bloom of youth is fresh.
A. You bet.

Q. So-so kind of, are there certain transitional ages that people need to be aware of? You know, you mentioned physical things, but also kind of the way your-your mind changes? You point out in this book that aging takes place between the ears. What are some of the ways that we’ve changed the way we’re thinking about life as we grow older?
A. Well, I think-I think the biggest factor of all is our attitudes. And that’s what I mean by “between the ears,” because that drives how we are thinking about wherever we are in life.

Q. Yeah.
A. Whether it’s, you know, our age, it’s our physical condition, or it’s our contemplation of, hey, shall I retire? Or shall I not?

Q. Yes.
A. So if we have a positive attitude about things, and if we believe that we are here because God has created us and has a plan for us –

Q. Yeah.
A. – then we’re going to be looking forward to where we are right now and whatever is going to be ahead for us.
Q. Yeah.
A. So I go on to say, I believe, that it’s okay to retire from a position. It is not okay to think of retiring from God’s work.

Q. Absolutely.
A. That’s an eternal kind of a thing that he has for us.

Q. Yeah. And-and when-when we think about retirement, there are certain people that say, I’m never going to retire. That’s kind of a foolish thing, isn’t it?
A. Well, not necessarily. I believe that some people have internalized the work ethic in such a way that –

Q. Yeah.
A. – that they cannot think of themselves as being useful in society unless they’re working.

Q. Yes.
A. And maybe they need to stay with it a little longer than others. But…

Q. Do they need to stay with it? Or do they need to, earlier on in life, begin to realize that work isn’t the whole shooting match?
A. Well, now that would be my preference, because in 15 years I’ve been teaching a pre-retirement seminar –

Q. Yeah.
A. – where I try to get people ready for retirement, or at least to consider what’s important.

Q. And what’s the biggest challenge for somebody like my age, 55? I would consider myself… I’ve been pretty Type A all of my life.
A. Yeah.

Q. You’re saying I need to change my attitude about the value of my life as it relates to work. Is that one of the biggest challenges that you see, particularly with men these days?
A. Absolutely.

Q. Really.
A. It really is. Particularly for men, and probably a little lesser for ladies. And probably their concern is increasing because of their involvement in the work force.

Q. So what’s involved in changing my mental attitude about the role of work in my life? What’s involved in getting a healthier attitude about the balance of life earlier so that when I do reach a retirement age I’m more mentally prepared for it?
A. I would say that the number one thing for a fellow like you, and probably most people, is to plan for something to replace your work.

Q. Yeah.
A. You must continue to be active, I believe, rather than go to the rocking chair.

Q. Yeah.
A. You’re going to find that that’s going to exacerbate the aging process.

Q. Yeah.
A. If you develop a sedentary lifestyle.

Q. Yeah, absolutely.
A. So look for a replacement for your work.

Q. So what kinds of things do people tend to replace work with?
A. Well, the obvious things would be do some traveling, do some gardening, do some golfing, do some fishing.

Q. Yeah.
A. But when you realize it’s 2,340 hours that you spend annually in the work force –

Q. That’s a lot of fishing.
A. – you can’t do any of those things that long. So you need a good combination of things.

Q. Yeah.
A. And hey, volunteer missions. The needs are so great.

Q. That’s great.
A. Here and abroad, volunteer missions is wonderful.

Q. So long as-so long as your health and your spouse’s health make that possible.
A. Absolutely. Absolutely.

Q. Now it’s interesting, I-I’ve been-I suggest often to friends of mine as they head into retirement that I wish they would write more because they have so much wisdom. But most of them are people who, there have been a demand for their communication, and their frustration is, I can write all I want but nobody is going to read it. How important is it to find something in retirement that you’re actually feeling productive? In other words, most guys that write don’t want to just write, they want to write something that somebody’s going to read.
A. Yes, you’re right about that. Now, haven’t we all heard someone say during their life in the work force, gee, I wish I had time to do that?

Q. Yeah.
A. And-and so I remind them in the seminar, hey, whatever it is you wish you had time to do, you’re going to have time to do. Now, start thinking about it. And-and-and try it.

Q. Yeah.
A. Get with it.

Q. So-so you-you… Would you say that, What is the average retirement age now?
A. It’s around 60, Dick.

Q. 60?
A. Yes, Sir.

Q. You mean, five years from now I’m supposed to be retiring?
A. Well, you’re not an average guy, I’m sure.

Q. Oh Lord, have mercy on my soul.
A. It’s been declining and, therefore, with the life expectancy approaching 80 years –

Q. Yes.
A. – you’re going to spend a quarter of your life in retirement.

Q. Holy mackerel. You’ve got a section in your book on the money aspect of that. There’s a whole section on estate planning. You’ve got a whole section on dealing with the bureaucracy, which you either got to figure it out or you’ve got to have somebody in your life that’s got it figured out. Because sooner or later it’s going to get you. There’s a lot to this.
A. Yes, there are.

We’re going to take another quick break and be back more with David Petty. His book, by the way, tremendous resource, easy read. I think anybody, you know, late 40’s/early 50’s ought to be reading this for themselves as you think ahead. And for goodness sakes, if your parents are heading into retirement, could get it as a gift for them. But read it yourself because we boomers are tending to be involved in understanding the aging process through the lives of our parents. So we might as well get all the help we can. The book is Aging Gracefully. It’s available at your local bookstore, published by Broadman and Holman. It’s available on line, and there’ll be more information at dickstaub.com about it, too. We’ll be back with our guest, David Petty. His book is Aging Gracefully. Don’t go away.

(Break)

Well, this is Dick Staub back with you. Our guest is David Petty whose book is Aging Gracefully, published by Broadman and Holman. The subtitle is Keeping the Joy in the Journey.

Q. You know, Dave, one of the things that I-I appreciate about that subtitle, Keeping the Joy in the Journey, I mean, I’m a believer. I’m a follower of Jesus. Many people listening right now are. And yet, I’ve got to tell you, my sense is that the pace of life today, the franticness of life, the deterioration of the culture, there are a lot of people that are not feeling joy in their journey at the age of 30, at the age of 40. And-and one of the things that I think you’re kind of subtly getting at throughout your book is that joy in the journey is something that you cultivate in your life throughout your life. And if you’re thinking I’m going to, you know, have kind of a miserable life until I retire and then it’s going to be bliss, you haven’t learned the patterns of joy in your life. And if you haven’t learned the patterns of joy early in your life, you’re probably going to have a more difficult time finding joy in the journey as you get older. Is that-is that accurate? Just talk about that for a minute.
A. Yes. As we age, we pretty much stay the same persons that we’ve always been though we are changing. And it’s obvious to us and to others, we still are basically the same person. We’re the one that God has created. So to have joy in the journey, we should have it all along. And it’s directly related with our relationship with God through Jesus.

Q. Yeah, absolutely. And now, I want you to step back just for a minute. You talk in this book about four areas, physiological, psychological, sociological, and spiritual. And I want to get into those more. But I’d like to back up just for a minute and talk a little personally with you, because there’s a couple of things that make you a really interesting person on this subject. One is that you studied this subject academically and-and-and you’ve-you’ve taught this subject. You’re also a person that-that did move into retirement and you’re also a person who, on October 4th in 1995, faced kind of some physical boundaries in your life that you hadn’t faced before. And the reason I’m mentioning all of that is, in what ways did your professional life prepare you? And in what ways did you still have lessons to learn as you entered into your own retirement process and as you worked at not just teaching aging gracefully, theoretically, but really doing it personally?
A. Well, I would say, Dick, that the first three dimensions that I address are the ones that I spent most of the time with in my course when I was teaching it. The spiritual dimension that I-that I offer at the end of the book is, in my opinion, is the most important.

Q. Yes.
A. It undergirds – and this has been my experience – it undergirds the other parts of who we are.

Q. Yes.
A. And-and we are a total person. So life is a journey and a pilgrimage, hopefully with God. And we are becoming, we are changing, but we are becoming who he wants us to become.

Q. Yes.
A. Not yet reaching perfection, that will come, I think, in the next life.

Q. So when you-when you look at your own experience with this, have there been any surprises for you?
A. Lots of surprises. Absolutely. Gee, I’d like to share one. I didn’t know exactly what to expect when I retired. I was getting into a different status.

Q. Yeah.
A. Even though I was supposed to be a, quote, expert.

Q. Yes.
A. But I did try to practice the things that I was preaching in my seminars.

Q. Yes.
A. I found, oh, it was such an exciting thing for my wife and me, and that is that God continues to use our spiritual gifts –

Q. Yeah.
A. – in retirement.

Q. Wow.
A. You know, where he gifted us as teachers we were professional teachers for many years. And then we’ve had many opportunities to continue to teach after we
retired. It was-it is wonderful.

Q. Wow. What was that crisis on October 4th, 1995?
A. Well, it was chest pains that led to open heart surgery. And the experience of being uplifted through it all by God and not worrying about it greatly.

Q. How old were you at that time?
A. I was 58 at the time.

Q. How did that change your outlook on life?
A. Well, you know, when you face something like that you realize, if you’d never realized it before, that you are indeed mortal.

Q. Yeah.
A. And-and you realize, well, here is a change that I’m experiencing. How can I adjust successfully to it?

Q. Yeah.
A. And then I go on to share the fact that I was in pretty good physical health enabled me to recover very quickly and to resume my work. And so it’s been eight years ago that I had that, and I’m going pretty strong.

Q. Now, when most people look at their aging process, they’re worried about their independence. And they want to maintain independence.
A. Absolutely.

Q. Eventually there are points of dependence. Talk about that mix of maintaining my independence and recognizing that, at certain points in a transition of my aging process, I will yield some independence.
A. Yes. I make the stark statement that if-if we live long enough, we will become dependent again, as we were as infants.

Q. Yeah.
A. It’s-it’s-it’s going to happen. But most people die before that happens. So the point is, those who love elderly people and work with them, and those who care for them, need to be sensitive to help them maintain independence as long as they possibly can –

Q. Yeah.
A. – instead of thrusting them into a dependent situation and allowing them no more voice in their life.

Q. Yep. So as-as-as children of parents who are aging and heading into these years, what is some of the most important things we need to be aware of?
A. Well, I think that another of the obvious audiences for my book would be the 40 to 50 year old –

Q. Yes. Yes, absolutely.
A. – who will have aging parents. And it gives them, I hope, some good pointers about being caregivers.

Q. Yeah.
A. They really need to honor them and see them through until the end of their lives.

Q. Yeah.
A. That’s what God asks us to do in his, what is it, fourth/fifth commandment.
fifth commandment, I believe.

Q. Yeah. Now, when we think about-about the-the-the sociological shifts, one of
the issues that you talk about is friends. And-and a lot of people, their primary friendships are clustered around their work. And when they retire those friends are no longer part of their everyday life. What do you need to do, preparation wise, to-to make sure that you still have a social life and a life where you’re engaged with friends?
A. Well again, that’s a very important thing. And I believe that you consider
making new friends, expanding in such a way that you will have an opportunity to meet some other people to sort of replace the ones that you may lose at retirement.

Q. And-and has that been your experience? Has your set of friends kind of shifted over these last few years?
A. It’s very interesting, Dick. We-we are one of the-one of the few that radically
relocated –

Q. Really.
A. – when we retired. We moved from one state to another.

Q. You moved from Texas to where?
A. To New Mexico.

Q. Really.
A. Yes. That’s where we live now. And our one concern was leaving friends
back in our home town.

And I’ll tell you what. We’re going to pick up right there when we come back, because now I know why you knew so much about those arches that I talked about a few minutes ago. You were right out there in that territory. We’re going to be back with some concluding comments from-from our guest, David Petty. He’s the author of Aging Gracefully, published by Broadman and Holman. Keeping the Joy in the Journey. We’ll be right back. Don’t go away.

(Break)

Well, this is Dick Staub back with you. My guest is a fascinating man. His name is David Petty. He’s got his doctorate and studied gerontology, taught it, taught seminars on aging gracefully, has now written a book about it. And he’s in the middle of doing it himself, having radically relocated from Texas, where he taught for years, to New Mexico.

Q. David, you’re just full of surprises here today. What was involved in your decision to radically relocate? Because it’s one of the things that my wife and I, and our kids, just took vacation down through Durango, Colorado, stopped in Moab, saw the arches, went to Mesa Verde, saw the-the Native American settlements there, then swung through the Grand Canyon, up through Bryce. We just loved the dry heat. And we’ve spent some time down in the southwest. I think it’s a great place. But it’s one thing to think it’s a nice place to visit, it’s another thing to actually move there. What were the pros and cons? And how did you finally decide that’s what you and your wife were going to do?
A. We had a marriage-long dream of-of being able to move to the mountains.

Q. Yeah.
A. And we will celebrate our 43rd wedding anniversary in about two weeks.

Q. Congratulations.
A. Thank you. And we went to Colorado on our honeymoon that long ago.

Q. Yeah.
A. And so we had been visiting many times, and so we decided we’ll try to do it. And we did. We’re in the Sangre de Christo mountain range of the Rocky Mountains.

Q. Yeah.
A. And Santa Fe of course is the highest, elevation-wise, of all the 50 capitals.

Q. Yes.
A. So here we are, six years.

Q. Yeah.
A. And we’ve loved it all. I wanted to tell you that only about five percent of the population relocate like that at retirement.

Q. Now, it meant making new friends. How did you go about making new friends?
A. Well, it happened quite early in the church that we joined.

Q. Okay.
A. And, as I was saying as we stopped at the last break, we were concerned, that was our greatest concern with relocating. We’re leaving our good friends behind –

Q. Yes.
A. – and hoping that God would have some new ones for us. He has blessed us immeasurably with new friends.

Q. Now, are you in an intergenerational church?
A. We are in an intergenerational church. Uh-huh.

Q. Because you know, one of the things that’s frustrating to me is that so many churches these days are demographically limited. And-and I think the great richness of life is involved when you’ve got grampas and grandmas and kids and babies and the whole mix in a church. And that’s what I would look forward to as a…That’s what I am involved in.
A. I look forward to that, too.

Q. So you made new friends. What about your kids? Did they think you’d… Do you have children?
A. We have three sons –

Q. Yeah.
A. – all of whom live in different states.

Q. Okay. So they had already moved out.
A. Oh yes, they were gone.

Q. What would you have done if all of your grandchildren and all your children were still in Texas? Would that have weighed heavily on that decision?
A. We have only recently had our first grandchild.

Q. Okay.
A. And it-it very likely would have, Dick, because so many of our friends who are grandparents, say they are staying because of them.

Q. Is that a good thing to do?
A. Well, I think it’s an okay thing to do if that’s you wish to do. But I don’t think you should be compelled to do it.

Q. Okay.
A. You know, because after all, you’re not responsible for them.

Q. Yeah.
A. But you want to have some good, quality time with them.

Q. Now, how did you choose the place that you chose? Did you-you… You’ve already talked a bit about the mountains and that, but did you also go through… Is there kind of an active Christian community there? Did you go through, Is there an airport for ease of travel? Did you ask yourself questions like, Is there a good health care system in place? I mean, what were the-what were the kinds of things, among the ones I just mentioned, that were part of the-the decision-making process?
A. Really all of those things should be looked at.

Q. I sound like a guy that’s thinking all this stuff, don’t I.
A. Yes, you do. And-and I applaud you for that.

Q. Well, that’s a good thing. That’s about the only thing I’m being applauded for these days is that I’m growing older and better, hopefully. Now, I want to come back to a comment that you made about, you know, you used to teach – and in this book, folks, talks about physiological issues, nutrition, exercise, it talks about psychological issues, independence, dependence, the concept of retirement, sociological issues including friendships, but you already said that the spiritual is most important. And you use a word, and you develop the word of the idea of “contentment.”
A. Uh-huh.

Q. And what is it that you have been learning about being content in whatever your circumstance? It’s one of the most important lessons in life. I’ll confess it’s one that I’m not sure I’ve been very good at in my life. But it is something that we’ve got to get this down in life. It’s an important part of our spiritual journey. And if you’ve mastered the area of contentment, you’re going to find it so much easier to age gracefully. What have you learned personally about it, David?
A. Well, let me just mention a couple of things. I believe that at the top of the list would be being in the will of God. And I think he communicates that to us –

Q. Yes.
A. – as he gifts us and as he opens opportunities for us.

Q. Yes.
A. And so hand in hand with that I believe would be to keep yourself a little bit out of that in terms of deciding what you want to do in life, what your particular goals are. It’s good to do that, as long as they are really God’s goals for you.

Q. Yeah.
A. But if you are too ambitious, you likely will never reach contentment –

Q. Yeah.
A. – because maybe God doesn’t will those particular things for you.

Q. Yeah, absolutely. So contentment is about being where you’re supposed to be, and being where you’re supposed to be is defined by God and not you.
A. It really is.

Q. Yeah, absolutely. That’s a good-that’s a good word. Now, you also talk about “commencement,” having the proper mental preparation about death.
A. Yes.

Q. What are you learning about that?
A. Well, I think that like aging, it is inevitable and irresistible, and therefore we ought to meet it head on. We ought not to deny it or be reluctant to talk about it.

Q. Yeah.
A. That’s unhealthy in my opinion.

Q. So what does it mean to “meet it head on”?
A. To meet it head on would mean to talk about it, and particularly to talk about it with others who are significant in your life. Tell them about your plans, tell them about your hopes and expectations.

Q. Yeah.
A. And then ask them, when that time comes, How can I make it easy for you? That’s doing a great service to your next of kin, in my opinion.

Q. Yeah, yeah. So you’ve already had all those conversations with your boys.
A. I’ve had some of those conversations, probably not all of them. And I suspect that there are more to come.

Q. You know, the thing that I’ve noticed… And-and my dad… My mother has Alzheimer’s and my dad’s in an apartment complex in a continuing care facility, that means that they’re still able to spend a lot of time with each other. But he’s, you know, he’s become a big promoter of my show, though, and I’m finding a lot of aging people listening to my show even though my show is sometimes described as a little edgy and irreverent because I basically challenge Christians to really think about things in their life, and that’s not always what happens in Christian circles. But I’ve noticed that these aging and older retired people, they’ve kind of dropped all of the fake stuff and they really are just wanting to deal with the stuff that’s real. And so they’ve got a, in some ways, a healthier attitude about life. They are hitting things head on. It’s been a real encouragement to me to see the way many people around my father, and my father himself, are processing the aging gracefully.
A. I think that’s great. And by the way, as you mention that Dick, I think they will find, in some cases, that their children will shy away from it. They’ve passed into an area where they want to talk about it –

Q. Yeah.
A. – yet younger people aren’t ready to talk about it and-and-and won’t give them the opportunity.

Well, that’s-that’s one of the reasons I think it’s important to talk about this subject. And Dave Petty has written a book that will help all of us process this more reasonably, intelligently, and spiritually. The book is Aging Gracefully. It’s published by Broadman and Holman. It’s subtitled Keeping the Joy in the Journey. And we’ll be back with more right after this. Stay there.

Posted in DS Interview, Staublog in July 14, 2003 by | No Comments »

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