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21 years of Successful Aging: More from readers in this anniversary column

This week is part two of my anniversary column noting 21 years of writing Successful Aging. So, what have I learned from our readers? As noted last week, “ageism” was the topic with most reader responses. Here are a few of others.

Dressing your age: A newly retired attorney went shopping at two department stores and couldn’t find “anything (to wear) that was right for me.” She wondered about the notion of age-appropriate clothing. Another reader who happened to be an attorney answered her question with a “who cares?” Another reader stated that the mistake was going to go to department stores instead of specialty shops. The notion of dressing for your age still exists. “I am not fond of long hair on middle-aged women or seniors and find tattoos the worst,” commented another reader.

Elder abuse and shared frustration: This individual was distraught over the treatment her father-in-law is receiving from his new wife with whom he recently eloped. He suffers from dementia. Getting married without informing his children was a behavior that was uncharacteristic for him, according to his daughter-in-law. He was told that his children only want his money and were waiting for him to die. When he called his children begging for help, his wife took away his phone. Another reader shared her frustration finding that judges delay cases until it is too late.

A different exercise: As pickleball has become the rage, we have another waiting in the wings. It’s lawn bowling, a basically outdoor sport of speed and tactics as recommended by Mr. M. It’s similar to alley bowling where the players or the bowlers roll the ball towards a target. It is a low-impact, therapeutic exercise that can improve fitness, coordination and confidence. The main objective of this game is to place an unsymmetrical ball as close as possible to a target which is similar to a white billiard ball called a jack. This asymmetrical ball travels in a curved path. In the U.S. there are 2800 lawn bowling members organized in seven geographic areas. To find a club near you, contact Southwest Lawn Bowls Association.

Having a Purpose: One example is a woman who is involved in an organization that helps children of prisoners get connected to a church. She also goes to garage sales to find toddler clothes for a pregnancy resource center. This purposeful, driven reader indicates that “neighbors who just want to play games and/or travel exclusively are missing out on so much of life after retirement.

Podcasts: Here are two podcasts that are new to me. One is an online community of about ten million golfers aged sixty or older called Fore! Sixty. They provide information about age-relevant golf equipment and news on fitness, nutrition, pain relief, sun protection and golfing with arthritis. Then there is The EndGame that encourages its audience of “chronically gifted” men and women to find joy and purpose in their remaining years, writes Mr. A. who hosts the session. He adds, “the podcast includes various aspects of positive aging, offers consolation and solution to the slings and arrows of growing older and illuminates the cultural obstacles that make aging more difficult than it needs to be.” (Both podcast hosts extended a speaking invitation to me, which unfortunately I had to decline because of conflicts.)

Bits and pieces: A writer/editor at age 66 is thinking about writing op-ed pieces or a column with practical advice about aging, particularly after her mother’s physical therapist expressed amazement on how she adopted her mother’s bedroom to her limitations. My reply, “Of course, give it a try; practical advice is always valued.”

Then there’s creativity. A 72-year-old reader leads groups in STEM programs that develop autonomous robots, catapulting designs intended for kids. He comments that “creativity grows with the more fields you study.” Senior Centers were suggested as a resource in finding caregivers as well as churches and synagogues. Including the word “fiduciary” was recommended in describing financial services. And a Minneapolis newspaper editor wrote, “Our paper should run your columns!”

So dear readers, I continue to learn of the challenges, victories and wisdom that you have shared. We all are learners in shaping these years to be the finest. To the best of my ability, I will continue to provide you with the most recent information, research and perspectives on aging. And occasionally a bit of opinion and personal experience will be thrown in for good measure.

To each of you – good health, joy and successful aging.

Helen Dennis is a nationally recognized leader on issues of aging and the new retirement with academic, corporate and nonprofit experience. Contact Helen with your questions and comments at Visit Helen at and follow her on


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