As I approach my 70th birthday, I am reminded of the words of one of my church leaders, President N. Eldon Tanner, of the first presidency.
He said, “Some of us do, and all of us should, realize that we are gradually coming to the close of the normal productive period of our lives, and we ask ourselves how well we have prepared and are preparing for this period of retirement from active employment. It is difficult for youth and young adults to really realize that someday they too will be old, and they spend their time, energy and money satisfying their immediate desires, appetites, and passions, rather than planning for comfortable and enjoyable employment ...
“It is sad to see someone who has come to the end of productive years, and had to retire, who was not ready either financially, physically, mentally or spiritually. So often we find older people, due to no fault of their own, in a state of poverty, ill health, loneliness or unhappiness.
“These are cases where the family, if there is any, should rally around those who need their love and fellowship so much — neighbors and friends should also be mindful of those who need their loving kindness.”
Each stage of life has its purposes, challenges and rewards.
Another president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints at age 77 shared the words of R.J. Sprague:
“Every period of human life is wonderful; the irresponsible age of childhood, the thrilling years of adolescent and courtship, the productive, struggling, burden-bearing eve of parenthood; but the most wonderful time of life comes when the father and mother become close friends of their grown-up successful sons and daughters, and can begin to enjoy their children's children ...
“Every normal individual should complete the full cycle of human life with all its joys and satisfactions in natural order: childhood, adolescence, youth, parenthood, middle age and the age of grandchildren. Each age has satisfactions which can be known only by experience. You must be born, a mother is born, a father is born, and grandparents are born; only by birth can any of these come into being. Only by the natural cycle of life can the great progressive joys of mankind be reached.”
One thing is certain: Unless we die young, we die old. We all have responsibilities pertaining to aging. First, we need to take care of and prepare ourselves for our own old age.
Second, we need to be mindful of and care for those who are elderly, especially those who have particular needs.
Years don't necessarily define ability. One man in his mid-90s, who lived alone and maintained his own home, excused himself from an event one day, saying, “I have to go help some old folks.”
He was a volunteer wheelchair pusher who escorted residents who were a decade or two younger than him.
Are you ready?