By Elaine Rohse • Columnist • 

Rohse: There’s fun to be had at any age

I’d like to clear up a misapprehension many people seemingly have with regard to the elderly. They think elderly people don’t have fun.

I don’t know whether that’s because they think aged people aren’t capable of having fun, or that aged people perhaps have fewer opportunities for fun — such as marathons.

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McMinnville's Elaine Rohse is fascinated by words, books and writing - and spends much time sating that fascination.

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When I was growing up, I worried about my parents and felt sorry for them because I didn’t think they were having any fun, or at least they didn’t do any of the things I regarded as fun.

Sometimes in the spring for “entertainment,” after supper, mother and Lynn walked down to check the wheat and rye fields tinged with the green of the sprouting crop, trying to assess the size of the crop they’d harvest this year — which was of great concern. A poor crop meant they would have to buy hay to feed the cattle in winter. This was during the Depression and posed a considerable hardship.

I have fun writing about age, and one reason I enjoy age as subject matter is that everyone seems to be concerned about it, or will in the future, which makes it a good choice and, also, because when I write about age I don’t have to do any research.

As you may have noticed, or will in the future, age is not at all willing to join in any subterfuge about disguise. It sends us out in the world with gray hair. It may decide to replace our teeth. It helps our eyes with glasses. It adds something to our ears that wasn’t provided by nature. Then it decides that a cane will be apropos in case we encounter an unfriendly dog or a suspicious looking person eyeing our purse. Age is also big in suggesting walkers, or even wheeled devices capable of providing interesting rides.

And the age of other people always seems of universal interest. We so often hear the question, “How old are you?”

Some people are reticent about divulging their age especially if they don’t look their years

I have a wild idea: I think it would be nice if we had two ages. One of our ages would be our true age but the other would be our virtual age.

This is how that virtual age would be determined — although I do not have the slightest belief this way of reckoning would ever become universally adopted:

You got up this morning and you are feeling like a million bucks — definitely not your actual 75 years. So when you go out to lunch with the and age is being discussed and someone asks your age. Why should you tell them your actual age? Give them your virtual age — maybe 60, maybe even 55. This is not telling a falsehood, as I view it. You don’t feel your actual age; you don’t look your actual age; you don’t act as if you were 75. Why then, should you not give your virtual age as 55? My point is that I think we should have two ages with the one being based on birth date and the other being how old you actually feel and act and think. Is not that second age really more accurate?

But now we come to the other part of this team and that is our all-important body. We should listen to our body. It tells us so much. It probably knows more than we do. Yet some pay scant attention to what it says or the signals it sends. It’s as if our theme song were, “I ain’t got no body.”

In almost every magazine, in almost every newspaper edition these days are articles about our physical well-being — and how exciting and challenging is this tussle with age

Many of the articles relate to the physical abuse that age imposes on our bodies. If I were going to be a doctor, I would not consider geriatrics, although it indeed is extremely beneficial and important. But age is so infinitely complex, not only as to the number of its ailments but as to how patients view age and how best to cope with it. It seems to me geriatrics would have more ramifications than any other branch of medicine, although much research is being done regarding it.

For example, one study reveals that people who have pets have better cholesterol levels, reduced risk of high blood pressure, and lower rate of heart disease than those who don’t have pets.

This research then is countered by the theory that this may be because people who have the energy to own a pet and can afford to have a pet may already have these health advantages. Although it is agreed that having a pet is beneficial, the difficulty is collecting evidence, scientific proof thereof — and that article assured readers that continued research regarding those findings is being done.

Anyone who has a pet thinks that he knows well as to the outcome of that research.

One aspect of age is, of course, our mental reaction to it, and I’m pretty sure I should be doing more crossword puzzles and should be a better helpmate to my body.

We should talk to our body, treat it like a partner, not ignore what it tells us. Articles I read remind me that I’m in a partnership with my body and that it is ever so important to be an active partner, which makes this age condition interesting and challenging.

We are given many suggestions as to what we should do. And even more necessary than crossword puzzles, is movement, more movement. True, our body does not always agree, but in some instances we need to overrule our body because mine is known to be lazy and slothful at times, although it is true our body probably knows more than we.

As for what constitutes fun, it varies considerably from person to person. It matters not what it is as long as you include it in your life.

But in almost every article the importance of activity and exercise is stressed, so exercise first. We are even warned not to sit too long at a time. After an hour at your desk, get up, move around, get the blood flowing. It also perks you up mentally.

According to the experts, we can care for the needs of our body with just a few minutes a day. Exercise your body for a happy mind. A little exercise helps reduce stress. A short brisk walk is a great way to start your day and helps balance your mind.

Give yourself some praise for something you’ve done. Enumerate things for which you can be grateful.

Keep a journal. Writing is therapeutic because you write down your thoughts, your worries. Try writing a bit each night.

Read, read, read — a book, magazine, newspaper. It’s an escape.

Give yourself time to socialize with friends.

Spend less time on technology. Eat nutritious foods.

Get enough sleep, sleep, sleep. It’s good for mind and body.

Don’t work all day, every day. Save time for relaxation — and fun.

Tell yourself you’re amazing. You are.

Take care of your body. It’s your friend, you need it, and remember, age has no bearing on your having fun. Fun is a given for all ages.

Elaine Rohse can be reached at


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