Being 70 is not the new 50

| 23 Sep 2016 | 11:50

    As you well know, health or its absence dominated the news recently due to Hillary Clinton’s sudden departure from the 9/11 memorial service – and then the tape of her almost falling as she got into her car. We wish her a thorough recovery from what was reported to be a mild case of pneumonia. But also we know that much more attention should be paid to the fact that 70 is not the new 50. Adjustments must be paid too.

    This column is also about strokes, the most debilitating affliction now suffered by former Prime Israeli Minister Shimon Peres. It’s also about retirement benefits to the community.

    But first about 70 not being the new 50 and those needed adjustments. Like how candidates or anyone else not feeling well must bound around like the proverbial billygoats to show they are not too old. Over 65, only one alcoholic drink a day, says a Mt. Sinai Medical Center bulletin. And how much less stressful if wannabees sometimes took the environmental friendly medium-speed passenger train. Let’s set an example and remind younger generations that, in general, windows are for seeing the world around you. Get the picture?

    But we’ve become so work-, speed- and device-obsessed that retirement and also slowing up, literally and otherwise, have become almost shameful. But semi-retirement is often ideal and sharing what has been learned is so important. And I’m thinking today as Police Commissioner Bill Bratton retires and reportedly will take a private sector position. Too much reinventing the wheel occurs when such experience goes unshared.

    We’re so accustomed to hearing that working forever is good for us. But working too much and the stress engendered is too little considered. And that relates to what’s most on my mind – the reportedly severe stroke former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres suffered Sept. 13. This 93-year-old winner of the Peace Prize and countless other awards had been still very actively concerned in government affairs when felled by this devastating stroke. Caring so much can take a toll too.

    Prayers and wishes for his recovery abound, but infinitely more attention must be paid to the prevention, treatment and cure of this most debilitating disease. Like Alzheimer’s, stroke attacks mostly old people. The late, greatly missed and renowned gerontologist Dr. Robert Butler said illnesses for older people need as much attention as younger people’s disorders.

    He would agree that what needs to get out there is the intense suffering and the often total helplessness which severe strokes inflict. A fate worse than death kind of condition, and should I be so afflicted, my family is instructed to take me to a state where assisted suicide is legal.

    And what needs to get and stay out there in the public consciousness is the condition of Peres, which we passionately hope improves, but also the care that this most revered leader receives is superior to that received by most stroke victims. And heaven help them if they don’t have supportive family and friends.

    So this awful affliction must be continually seen and discussed – and with the population aging and many elders living longer. For all our health care facilities, there are too few gerontologists to evaluate the whole elder person’s condition.

    In terms of retirement, there is time to join those health battles surely, but also for civic group involvement, like police precinct community councils. They meet monthly to hear about crime- and safety-related problems. And there are other civic groups like community boards and this week, the monthly meeting of the very active, decades-old East 79th St. Neighborhood Association occurs Thursday, Sept. 22 at 6 pm at the Upper East Side Rehabilitation and Nursing Center at 211 East 79th Street, just east of 3rd Avenue.

    Hey, and I may just go to remind them that it’s the 10th anniversary of my “body of work” being honored by local elected officials at that 2006 September meeting. The framed plaque from Rep. Carolyn Maloney called me “perhaps New York’s foremost champion of pedestrian safety.” I guess those elected officials need reminding that I’m still not consulted on their traffic safety plans.

    Another award-giver, Senator Liz Krueger, also needs to be informed that, unfortunately, it’s not just “a few bad apple bicyclists” who break the laws of the road as her bicycling-related commentary recently stated.

    It can be done if enough of us try. Smiling sure helps.

    Bette Dewing can be reached at