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Column: Expert accentuates the positives of aging

Mon., May 20, 2013, midnight

Some readers have gently criticized this column for being a downer about aging. They have a point. Last week, for instance, I wrote about the reasons boomers may not live into great old age (chronic illnesses and high suicide rates).

So this week, I counter with a more hopeful report.

Aging expert Wendy Lustbader, who has written “The Unexpected Pleasures of Growing Older,” will be in Spokane this month for a half-day seminar at The Lincoln Center.

Lustbader – in her book and in her media interviews – points out that life gets better for older people because:

• We spend less time with people who suck our energy, say no to events that waste our time, stop comparing ourselves to others, and we get away with our choices.

• Relationships deepen. We stop trying to change our spouses and often value longtime friendships while doing away with superficial relationships.

• We finally have some time for other things that feed the spirit.

Lustbader writes: “We naturally get caught up in making our way in the world during youth and middle age. There is little time or energy for endeavors beyond our personal sphere – maintaining a home, going to work, raising children. Two or three decades may elapse before we find these involvements less consuming. In the meantime, a longing for connection to something beyond these spheres slowly gains force.”

• We give back. “Later life is the time when we tend to have room in our lives for generosity,” Lustbader writes. “It gives us reasons to prevail over our personal difficulties and grants us access to vital sources of renewal. We find there is strength in doing what good we can for others.

“In a cafe one afternoon, I overheard the wrap-up of a business meeting between a woman in her 50s and a man in his 30s. She said, ‘So, I really like where we’re going with this. I want to do something good for our community.’ The younger man replied, ‘That’s great. I want to get paid.’ They were clearly at divergent points in the life course, with different priorities.”

The seminar featuring Lustbader is sponsored by the SAFE (Senior Assistance Fund of Eastern Washington) in partnership with Aging and Long Term Care of Eastern Washington.

The seminar, from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. May 29, costs $45, plus an additional $22 for continuing education credit.

Who should attend?

“All who touch the lives of our aging population … those who work in retail, financial, health care professionals, family caregivers, bankers and lawyers,” said Joyce McNamee, chairwoman of SAFE and event organizer.

For more information go to or call (509) 458-2509, ext. 502.

COG MEMORIES: Gonzaga University’s dining hall, the COG, closed down after nearly 58 years to make way for a $60 million student center. Some wondered why no one protested the demolition of a midcentury modern building. Not all midcentury moderns are created equal, we guessed.

Mike Storms shared this COG story via email: “I’m from the GU class of ’70. We (engineering majors) hung out in the southeast corner of the cafeteria on the lower floor. It was a good place to try to unscrew the inscrutable of our homework over bad coffee. One problem was that the jukebox would be too loud. We’d ask them to turn it down and then the ‘hippies’ would want it turned up again. It didn’t help it was not our type of music.

“One day there was a power failure, and we took advantage of that for the wire to the speaker in our corner to ‘break’ on our way out.  It made our corner quieter. An accounting major that hung out with us engineers got ‘Okie from Muskogee’ put on the jukebox through a clever con. It ended up being one of the most popular songs on it. The hippies liked it, too, because it was so over the top redneck.”

MAKE A DIFFERENCE: In the Feb. 18 Boomer U section, I profiled three Spokane women who have embraced universal health care as their cause. After the story ran, the women heard from many people hoping to help. So Kelly Hunt, Mary Huntington, Jill Williams and many others have partnered with Health Care for All – Washington to hold a discussion open to all interested tonight, 6:30 p.m. at Jewett House hall at St. John’s Cathedral, 127 E. 12th Ave., Spokane. For more information, go to www.healthcareforall


• “Bit by Bit: The Digital Evolution of the Neighborhood” – discussion about how advances in digital technology are affecting our interactions, institutions and culture, sponsored by Humanities Washington, Wednesday, 7:30 p.m., Lindaman’s Gourmet Bistro, 1235 S. Grand Blvd., Spokane, (206) 682-1770, ext. 102.

• The role of President Lincoln in the creation of the Idaho Territory in 1863 is the lecture in the “Road to statehood” series at the Coeur d’Alene Public Library, Thursday, 7 p.m., at the library, 702 E. Ave., Coeur d’Alene, (208) 769-2315, ext. 426.

For more activities, go to

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