Old Pharts Unite: Lessons in Aging

Paul Nuchims, owner of Manchester Gallery, will hold a Senior Studies discussion, from 2 to 3 p.m. Saturday at the gallery, 724 Bay Street, Port Orchard; (360) 895-4270.

Nuchims, 75, is a retired professor of art and humanities. A casual conversation with him often winds its way into philosophical discussions of humanity, politics and culture. The one-time candidate for county commissioner who withdrew from the primary in 2008 said careful attention to diet and exercise have helped him to feel better that he did as a middle-aged man.

Nuchims perceives a void in classes on aging in that few if any are taught by those who can actually claim to be old. To fill that void, he is launching a series of discussions on what it takes to age successfully in a society that worships youth.

“This is a discussion about seniors taking charge of their life and not falling into the profile most younger people have of older people as being infirm and being an albatross around the neck of society,” Nuchims said.

Nuchims works out regularly and eats mostly food he grows himself. He’s not opposed to medical care, but hasn’t visited a doctor “in years.”

“This may be hyperbole,” he said, “but I’m healthier now than I was 35 years ago. Part of it is understanding my own body, and part of being able to do that is living this long.”

My thoughts: Ah, yes, if only these things came with owner’s manuals.

From Nuchims’ e-mail, here are some basic concepts to be covered in the class:
•Age: The older, wiser, and more adept at life you should become.
•Best Insurance?  Avoid the risk. Money doesn’t replace all loss.
•Health: Individual’s responsibility: Grow your own food. Exercise.
•Money: A useful tool but hardly an end in itself.
•Art: A window? A method for healing and understanding.
•Future is now: The past (memories), a learning tool: use it wisely.
•Responsibility: For everything? Maybe. Let’s start with ourselves.
•Change: Even a small, incremental change, will be empowering.

While Nuchims will structure the discussions from his perspective as a teacher, the conversation will definitely be a two-way street, he said. People of all ages are welcome.

Classes are free and will continue each Wednesday, 6 to 7 p.m. starting Oct. 21, at the gallery.

Speaking of aging, what do you define as “old?”

It’s commonly said we live in a society that worships youth. What, if any, specific examples have you encountered?

Nuchims said young people think of the elderly as an “albatross” around society’s neck. If you consider yourself young, do you see the elderly as a burden? What solutions if any do you see to this situation?

What bothers you the most about the prospect of getting old?

Who in your life has been a model for successful aging? I’ve had many, and they all made it look a lot easier than it actually is. On the other hand, now that I’m 54, I feel, like Nuchims, better that I have in decades.

Oh, wait, one more. If you knew then what you do now, what would you have done differently?

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