DEAR ABBY: I'm a man in my mid-70s, and I'm beginning to understand why some old people are annoying cranks. It has something to do with the nearly constant physical, emotional and spiritual pain. (And if you're not sleeping well as a result, that only makes things worse.)
My body is breaking down, and something hurts all the time. My wife died some years ago, other loved ones are gone as well, and my grief is an unending process. I know my remaining time here is limited, and I'm not sure I want to depart the only life I've known for an uncertain future.
I have started alienating friends and others by the things I say, and I didn't used to be this way. There's no excuse for this, of course, but what I'm saying is, there are reasons. And yet, some people age gracefully. My question is, how do they do it? -- ALAN IN FLORIDA
DEAR ALAN: It is extremely important that you speak to your doctor about everything you are experiencing. Your unending grief might be lessened if you discuss it with a licensed mental health provider.
It's true that not everyone ages physically at the same rate. Some individuals start preparing in their 40s and 50s for the later stages of life by eating healthier and exercising. The saying "use it or lose it" has a lot of truth to it. Muscles that don't move tend to freeze up and cause pain.
Volunteering is a wonderful way to stay busy, active and focus on others, and volunteers are needed in every community. Please consider what I have written, and let me know how you are doing in six months. I care.