East Hampton seniors share tips on how to live well

By Merja H. Lehtinen - ReminderNews
East Hampton - posted Mon., Sep. 16, 2013
East Hampton Senior Center Director JoAnn Ewing hosted a panel discussion on Monday, Sept. 9, on living well as a senior. Photos by Merja H. Lehtinen.
East Hampton Senior Center Director JoAnn Ewing hosted a panel discussion on Monday, Sept. 9, on living well as a senior. Photos by Merja H. Lehtinen.

By all accounts, the senior citizens of East Hampton know how to live well – doing activities like fishing and golfing - while they face everyday challenges of seniors everywhere. From money issues stemming from rising property taxes and medical co-pays to finding a good quality of life balance, the seniors were forthright in their appraisals of how to live well on Monday, Sept. 9, at the East Hampton Senior Center.

In a program of "Lunch and Learns" during National Senior Center Month, the seniors are exploring issues from how to prepare for a hurricane to tips on living an enriched life in the "golden years."

Nelson Maurice, one of the panelists, said he attributes his positive outlook to being active at church, the senior center, engaging with his grandchildren and enjoying life with his wife. He joked about getting one's feet out of bed and solidly on the floor as an "accomplishment." But his humor belied his active lifestyle, which features socializing and engaging with others.

"I'm not retired," said Nancy Zimmer. "I still own a business. My [business] partner is significantly younger than I am," she said. That allows her greater flexibility to choose which aspects of running a business appeal most to her.

Bob Petell said he chops wood to stay active in the winter. 

"Get out and do something. Fix yourself up and go out," said Judy Parenteau.

Lance Johnson said to remember that "every day is a gift; try to enjoy the day."

The overall opinion was that staying healthy and young at heart requires staying active and being engaged with others. Several women spoke about both the challenges of living with a retired husband "underfoot," while appreciating that time together in later life is a fleeting gift. The general advice was to enjoy the time now in the present.

JoAnn Ewing, the director of the Eat Hampton Senior Center, hosted the panel and also encouraged members of the audience to speak about the challenges and joys of being a retired or working senior. Her own mother was a panelist, and Ewing discussed how she advised her mom to seek a hip replacement when she was no longer able to garden as she used to do. "Now we rarely saw her all summer, as she was on her knees in the garden," Ewing said.

Ewing also announced that the senior center's Nintendo Wii gaming system had "disappeared," but a generous neighbor has donated another one.

Cindy Baloga, the senior center's fitness and exercise guru, said she has been active for the last 32 years and one of the challenges of seeing retirement ahead is the possibility of a loss of identity.

So many people identify themselves with what they do or once did; once retired, it is often a conversation stopper to say the word "retired," according to JoAnn Ewing.

The senior panelists advised others to volunteer, golf, fish, keep busy and be with grandchildren. The lake plays a large role in many East Hampton seniors' lives. Several spoke about the lake as a source of peace and activity.

Ann McLaughlin had a more philosophical approach for the day: "Follow a thought and let it unfold," she advised.

People also mentioned the need to schedule in "quiet time" in retirement. With a rush to be busy all the time, they noticed a lack of time to read or sit quietly.

Traveling, volunteering, and seeking companionship were among the top suggestions for living well in retirement.

Future "Lunch and Learn" programs will focus on veterans’ benefits, personal and home safety, Medicare issues, and another open house on Saturday, Sept. 21, featuring "Experts at Living Well." Contact the senior center for program dates and times.

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