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Better plan for old age (12/05/2010)
By Frances Edstrom

Itís just the way your fifth grade teacher said it would be. If you donít plan ahead, pretty soon you find yourself so far behind you canít catch up. And then thereís trouble. My fifth grade teacher, Sister Aquinata (no, not named for the hair spray, but for Saint Thomas Aquinas) said at least once a day, ďWoe betide the boy or girlÖĒ who didnít plan ahead. It took me at least another five years to finally work out how ďwoe betideĒ was spelled, and what it actually meant, but I knew it was something dire, like high tide in a hurricane.

But, to bring this up to the present. Someone was not planning ahead in all this mortgage mess, and look where we are now! Woe has definitely betided us.

The first cold weather always starts me thinking about the future, which I hope is warmer. I donít mean global warming, either. I want me to go someplace warm, not warm to come to me. That led me to thinking about retirement, which led to thinking about the scads of old people who flock south. Then, I thought about the people who are young now, and that woe will betide them if them if they donít think ahead to what their lives will be like when they are old.

Naturally, they should be saving money, in case the government raises the retirement age to 113. But thatís not all. Look around you at young people. Do you think they realize the consequences of some of the things they do? Take tattoos, for instance. Iím not sure a lot of thought goes into what these tattoos will look like in thirty years or so. Same with nose rings and other piercing.

So I have a plan, which I am going to take to the local arts community right after the holidays. Now, adults shake their heads and say, ďDo you know what that little rosebud tattoo is going to look like in thirty years? A long-stemmed rose, thatís what!Ē Why donít we encourage artists who work with computer graphics to design tattoos that will age along with the person.

A butterfly with antennae and trailing wings could sag gracefully into a brook rippling down a hill with a tree at the top. Ankle tattoos could be designed to eventually cover up varicose veins. That cute little band around an upper arm could be designed to minimize the old lady saggy underarm business.

Body piercings could take on more utilitarian roles as we age. Perhaps that nose ring could become a place to hang your reading glasses. A belly button ring could secure your pill case, so you donít lose track of it, or your house key. Earrings could disguise hearing aids.

How about computer technology ó it could also become less ageist. There could be a built-in laptop in your walker. I-pods could have an application that translates what doctors tell you after your physical exam, and what your grandchildren are saying. Cars could remember where you are going, like horses used to. Cell phones could flip open several times to a big keyboard for texting not involving thumbs, which will be full of arthritis by then.

So, thatís what Iíve been thinking about. Did I mention I just celebrated my birthday this week?



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