The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Tom Lavis

October 23, 2011

Tom Lavis | Rushing headlong into golden years

— Judging from the mail I have been getting these days, old age is no longer sneaking up on me, it’s running straight at me.

But I don’t need the mailman to tell me that.

My hips and knees give me a reminder at every turn.

If you enjoyed watching “The Huntley-Brinkley Report ” or “The Three Stooges,” then you are at an age when your ears perk up when a denture adhesive commercial comes on TV.

Judging from the amount of junk mail I’m getting, I have discovered that there are a lot of people worried about me getting older.

From insurance companies and senior citizens groups to Medicare and financial planners, many  people are expressing concern for my well-being.

One interesting posting informed me that, with the holidays approaching, many people will welcome older loved ones into their homes.

“Your home could be dangerous for seniors,” a bold headline read.

Since my wife, siblings, in-laws and I are aging rapidly, this got me to thinking.

This advertisement provided a checklist, so I did some comparisons. Injuries due to tripping and falling were high on this list.

I discovered that many of the precautions for seniors were the same ones we have employed for our young grandchildren.

Like toddlers, older people often have poor balance.

“Remove electrical cords on floors to avoid mishaps,” was first on the list.

Too late. I tripped over the power cord to my computer and sent the laptop sailing into cyberheaven.

There also was an advisory concerning coffee tables in high-traffic areas.

We moved our coffee table some time ago to a corner of the living room, fearing that one of the grandchildren would fall and bump his or her head.

But with my clumsy feet, that move may be permanent.

One piece of mail suggested we may want to make some lighting changes.

We already have night-lights in bathrooms and hallways. But with age comes a diminished capacity to focus.

I have considered changing our traditional light switches to glow-in-the-dark models.

I say that because I’m getting tired of waking up during the night and walking around the room like Frankenstein, with my arms outstretched searching for a switch.

An even better investment may be a touch lamp.

Speaking of investments, as I approach my golden years, finances have become a priority.

I learned my lesson at a tender age. I had been employed for about two years when a co-worker, on the eve of his retirement, complained that he didn’t know how he was going to make ends meet.

I have entrusted my savings to the investment firm of Dolittle & Dunwerkin.

I’m relying on these guys to pave my way into retirement. But judging from lackluster stock market performances, diminishing 401(k) accounts and mutual funds, my road may become a dead-end.

I miss the days when life was as simple as Mr. Whipple squeezing Charmin and Clara shouting, “Where’s the beef?”

Every eight seconds, a baby boomer turns 50 years old, and there are approximately 77 million approaching retirement age.

As the number of older adults in the United States increases, so, too, will the number of older drivers.

In these days of cell phones and digital music players, it’s easy for drivers of any age to become even more distracted than they used to be.

My mailings tell me older drivers must take extra steps to drive safely. Suggestions include leaving adequate space between your car and the car in front of you, paying extra attention at intersections, and making sure you are driving the right direction on a one-way street.

The 29 million older drivers now will nearly double in 20 years to 57 million.

My motto: “I’m speeding because I have to get there before I forget where I’m going.”

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Tom Lavis

What is the biggest key to reducing gun violence in Johnstown?

Tackling the area's drug problem.
Controlling folks moving into city housing.
Monitoring folks in treatment centers and halfway houses.
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