I Like Being Old
by K. Eileen Allen

iUniverse, 2009. ISBN 978-1-440-14631-2.
Reviewed by Judith Helburn
Posted on 11/26/2010

Nonfiction: Memoir; Nonfiction: Life Lessons

Eileen Allen has macular degeneration. She is very deaf. She uses a walker for her three-mile walk around the lake each day. She considers these challenges rather than handicaps. She has a positive attitude and I want to be like her when I grow up, give or take a little. She has ninety-one years of life experience. I Like Being Old is a joy to read.

Allen began consciously adapting to various physical difficulties in her early sixties, when her knees became arthritic. It was then that she learned to swim and began to focus on what she could do rather than what she couldn't. She realized that she could keep on learning, and that, yes, you can teach an old dog new tricks. She resisted wearing hearing aids until her audiologist told her that she was not giving her brain a chance to adapt to amplification. Once she began wearing them regularly, she could understand others much better.

Happiness, she says, is a balance between looking inward and relating to others. She is the one who determines her perspective. There is an old saying, "There is a reason we have two ears and only one mouth." She has learned to be a good listener. Since her eyes have deteriorated, she has discovered the joy of poetry and her ability to memorize poems.

Yes, she says, giving up her independence was a difficult decision, but a wise one. She lives in a retirement home and says she all of her friends feel they waited too long to make that move. "...Recognizing and accepting help when we need it frees us to put our remaining resources to good use."

I Like Being Old is an upbeat look at a long life. "I'm choosing the final pieces to complete the picture—ones that show an old woman reinventing herself as many times as it takes to stay engaged and in love with life."

K. Eileen Allen spent her career as a child development specialist in university settings. As she approached retirement, she began exploring issues of aging. She lives in Seattle. Visit the book website.

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