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How to get old gracefully

By Jennie L. Phipps ·
Sunday, November 6, 2011
Posted: 6 am ET

I talked to my Aunt Thummie today. She's the last of my mother's dozen brothers and sisters. At 91, she has outlived them all.

Until recently, her retirement was an active one. She was able to drive and travel, then she had some setbacks and she's moved into an assisted living facility. I called and told her that I was writing this retirement planning column, and I needed her sage advice to share with other people who have to deal with the changes she has faced in the last few months. Here's what she had to say:

  • Don't buck the system. "You have to have a good attitude to get old. You can't complain all the time because nobody want to hear it."
  • Do more giving than taking. "You have to give and take an awful lot in this life, but you especially have to make a lot of adjustments when you are a senior citizen."
  • Get on the same page with your family. "It won't work if you aren't on the same page. If I decided that I didn't like living here, we'd be in trouble, so I'm determined that I'm going to like. it. My family thinks it is good so why shouldn't I?"
  • Keep on trucking. "I take therapy everyday. It is supposed to help, and I guess it is. They have me doing all kinds of different exercises and they don't give me any mercy -- and I don't want it."
  • Work at it. "My kids and I are all working together to make this work. We get along better than we used to because we talk abut things. They discuss my condition with me.  Everybody agrees to everything before we make decisions. There is no underhandedness. They don't run over top of me."
  • Keep your friends. "I have a host of friends. They are all over the country -- all over the world. I talk to them on the phone all the time. I got 40 birthday cards. You know, if you have friends, you have the world by the tail."
  • Put family first. "Your family is important. Remember that."
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