Editor’s Note: This article was written in April 2010, my dentist retired about a year after this article was published—but its overall message continues to be relevant today…..

I love my dentist but most folks his age are long retired.  I really don’t know how old Dr C.  is.  I’ve asked him some questions trying to determine his age (short of coming out and asking him how old he is).  I know he served in the Korean War as a dentist and had been one prior to the war.  I’m figuring he’s around 80.

He does a great job and I trust him completely.  He only works three days a week and his dental hygienist doubles as his receptionist.  Most things like cleanings that the hygienist normally does, he does.  Rarely does she come back and help out.  He’s obviously old-school and seeks treatments that are lower-cost which I appreciate.  Yet he keeps up on new things and talks my ear off on cutting edge dental procedures which he does referrals to other dentists if he thinks they are necessary.

My wife’s looking for a new dentist.  Her last dentist dropped our insurance so now she’s got to change.  That’s how I found Dr. C. In fact, seems like every time in the last 20 years I’ve changed dentists it has been because my dentist and health insurance company parted ways.  Most of my change of doctors have been due to health care coverage as well, that’s a whole other issue.  Maybe they should have built something into that recent legislation that allowed you to keep your old doctor or dentist in these situations?

I suggested to my wife that she try out Dr. C. She’s a bit reluctant.  It’s not because of his age or any concerns over his competency, she’s concerned he may not be a long-term option and she’ll have to change again soon.  After all he is getting up there in years and might actually retire or… nevermind that other thought.

There’s something comforting about seeing Dr. C. continuing to work.  I know that I want to be vital and contributing to society at his age and beyond.

There’s this interesting dichotomy we have in America about age.  Younger people such as myself (that being a relative term in reference to me) tend to look at those people in their 70s and beyond and in our minds question their ability to be vital.  We’re just not sure how competent they still are.  Yet on the other hand, we are in some kind of denial about our ever getting older.

For the baby boomer generation, we’ve done all we can to forestall our getting old.  From Botox to Viagra, we want to be living a life full, seen as young and acting young for as long as we can.  50 is the new 30, 60 is the new 40… we sort of stop there… I think when the baby boomers start hitting 70, it’s going to be redefined as the new 50 or lower.

So on the one hand we look up at the generation before us and see them as “old” and incapable, while on the other hand as we close in on their age, we redefine ourselves as being younger.  I’ve got no concerns with the baby boomers hanging on to youth, after all I am a baby boomer.  However, maybe we should throw some of those youthful vital thoughts towards our elders?  Maybe if they stay younger and vital, so will we!

My dad’s in his late 80s.  Although my mom passed away a little over a year ago, my dad continues to do well.  Recently we started selling books together on Amazon.  We took some of my moms old art books and I listed them on the Internet for sale.  When we get an order, I call my dad and tell him which book to ship in the buyer’s name and address.  It’s working quite well, and he’s made a lot of money.  But the money is not important.  What’s important is that he has an activity that serves to keep him vital.  I hope he keeps selling books well past 100… after all 100 is the new 80.

In the words of Bob Dylan, may we forever stay young!

Mark

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Check out all of Mark Gilbert’s books—available at Amazon. Click here to visit his Author Page. This includes his recent one Our Spiritual Rights and Responsibilities. In this book, he offers what he suggests are the 5 basic rights we all possess by virtue of our being these spiritual beings on planet Earth — and our 2 responsibilities we all hold in relation to one another! Check it out!