Happy New Year: It’s time to lighten up and grow up


T oday’s column is designed for those of us who are old enough to know better, and young enough to still care, so if that doesn’t sound like you, your time will probably be better spent considering options for your next tattoo; for the rest of us …

Considering that we’re better than halfway through March, I thought it was probably time I pointed out that it’s 2013! Say that out loud: 2013! Do you believe that? Remember when “1984” was “futuristic? Me, too; mercifully, things went a bit … better than anticipated.

And, in all likelihood, 2013 will, too — It just doesn’t feel like it. I understand.

But here we are; more-or-less in one piece, more-or-less still standing (really, or metaphorically) and anticipating any number of things that we can’t control. It’s easy to worry about things that might happen to us — Geez! That’s an art that most of us have spent decades perfecting! What if…? And then, what if … and then …!

I know; but what if we do what we can do? — What if that? Don’t panic, because I have no intention of going on about “resolutions” (Why do you suppose that I waited until March to point out that we’re in a “new” year)? But I am going to talk about doing what we can do. If that’s already scary, consider a tattoo.

So, what can we do? Well, for one thing, we can get off of our you-know-whats and MOVE! Move around Walk around! Pace! Do stuff! Can’t get up off your you-know what? OK, then move what you can move! Bodies were designed to move, so if we stop them from doing what they were designed to do, they’ll stop doing what they were designed to do — consider that.

In case you haven’t noticed, this whole “healthcare thing” is getting weirder and weirder; no, I’m talking about “ObamaCare” and no — I’m not talking about health insurance! I’m talking about health care! So, we’d better figure it out, because the good, old days when we could just live, live, live, then be rescued by Marcus Welby with a black bag in the bedroom are gone.

If you’re supposed to be taking medication, then take it. Take all of it and take it correctly. Having trouble keeping track of it? OK, then get a box or a device or somebody who likes you to help you keep track of it. And get rid of that old crap, before it kills you or somebody else.

Are you sick? In pain? Did something stop working right or start doing things it didn’t used to do? Then, go to the doctor or the clinic or whomever and say so. Too expensive? Probably, but do you think “it” will be less expensive when “it” gets worse? Probably not.

Or are you just scared: “I don’t want to know what it might be …” I get that — Oh boy, do I get that. But it’s relatively rare that “it” will magically go away and you’ll feel great; what’s more likely is that we’ll stall and stall and then we’ll have an emergency (probably an expensive emergency) and people who we claimed to love will get to pick up our pieces and take care of us and generally sacrifice major portions of their lives, because we were “chicken.” Really?

If you need help with something such as money, bill-paying, figuring out the meds, laundry or vacuuming the ceiling, ask for it. If you’re having trouble now, you probably won’t need less help later. Or if you do only need help for a little while, then ask for a little help for a little while. The people who you ask, will thank you.

Figure out your health insurance. Oh, Good Lord, no. I am not suggesting that you become a Medicare wonk (or whatever) or that you need to spend four days per month poring over your policies, but you do need to have some general familiarity with what it does and doesn’t cover. You just might find that it covers some cool preventive stuff or a “nurse line” or whatever, that could keep you out of that expensive emergency.

And when you get stuff from Medicare or your MediGap or your health insurance, open it. No, I’m not talking about 19 lbs. of marketing BS — I’m talking about the real stuff from your real health insurance — open it. Look at it. Attempt to read it; then, attempt to read it again. Most of us are surprised at how (relatively) quickly stuff begins to make sense if we just read it — then, re-read it. You’re not required to enjoy it — like, everything else you’ve ever had to do in your whole life was fun. Oh, come now.

Eat better. I didn’t say “eat perfectly,” I said “better” — And yes, you do know how. Drink water. I’m serious; you’re not required to enjoy it, but you might — just do it. It’s one of the prices we pay for residing on the planet.

Figure out your money — where it’s going, and why. Want to change something about that? Then do it, because money almost never changes itself.

Say something nice to somebody and do something nice for somebody. Are you kind of limited in what you can do? OK, then do what you can do, not necessarily what you “used to do” or might “like to do” — what you can do. Yes, you can, if you just think about it.

Make fun of yourself — Out loud. Oh, yes. I am serious! Look at the weird stuff you do and the weird stuff you think. You don’t think any of that is funny? Really? Well, you can just keep it all inside, where it will just get bigger and bigger and weirder and weirder and darker and darker or you can do it out loud and laugh at it. And feel free to invite others to join in laughing at you. You might be surprised at how quickly they’ll start laughing at themselves.

Now, some of us will (and, perhaps, already have) set achievable goalswith timelines — and clear, behavioral and verifiable outcomes. Wow! Great! But some of us won’t — we just … won’t.

But what some of us can do is lighten up, grow up and take some responsibility for our own stuff, because it’s 2013 — Because when you wake up tomorrow, it won’t be yesterday. It never was.

Happy New Year!

Mark Harvey is the director of Senior Information and Assistance for Olympic Area Agency on Aging. He can be reached at harvemb@dshs.wa.gov or 532-0520 in Aberdeen, (360) 942-2177 in Raymond or (360) 642-3634. FACEBOOK: Olympic Area Agency on Aging-Information & Assistance.