Successful Retirement in NYC, 4 – Theater Extravaganza

April 14, 2015

We have spent the winter in NYC and what a winter it was – snow every Monday and freezing rain during the week to keep it interesting. So one way to beat the frozen winter blues was to go the theater and we have, a lot.  Right now we are at 40 plays/ performances and counting. The plays have ranged from one person performances to large productions with Hollywood stars – think Sting, Helen Mirren, Elizabeth Moss, Emma Stone, Kristen Chenoweth.

When we started this whole NYC experience we knew we wanted to see a lot of plays but were somewhat concerned about three things . First,we are not night people so we prefer matinees and that limits how many days there are performances available. There are matinees on Wednesday, Saturday, Sunday and, for some off Broadway, Thursdays as well. Second, Broadway shows are expensive, some very expensive. Fortunately we have friends who live here who are very savvy about how to score tickets at reduced prices or even for free. So they let us know to check out sites like Club Free Time, tdf, Theaterextras, Gold star and Travel Zoo. There is a membership fee for some of these but they are still worth it. Another way to save money is to buy tickets in person at the Box Office.  You’ll save the service and processing fees. Also we found lots of discounts for plays in preview and for Off Broadway shows.Third, my husband needs an aisle seat so that he can extend his right leg out ( result of back surgery). That has limited our ability to take advantage of some discounts since we can’t always be guaranteed an appropriate aisle seat when buying discount tickets. So buying in person with a discount code works best for us.

So what have we seen?  They have ranged from revivals ( King and I ) to one person plays like Churchill, Josephine Baker and Wiesenthal to  dramas (Delicate Balance) to brand the new Hand to God.

We started with Jersey Boys ( a repeat for us and well worth it); then Cabaret – Alan Cumming was phenomenal; The Audience – Helen Mirren truly is the Queen; Skylight with Bill Nighy – amazing; On The Town – best classic Broadway show by far; strange (for us) performances like Big Love; super dramas  like Disgraced and Curious Incident of The Nightime Dog and The River – Hugh Jackman was excellent. We took my niece and her son to Lion King – so fun to see a child’s first experience with a Broadway show.

Best play: Hamilton and this is before it goes to Broadway. We paid a little over 100 for our tickets and on a resale site they were going for a 1,000 per ticket. Money aside, the play was outstanding – without a doubt one of the best we have ever seen.

One more factor to consider – the theater or venue. Some are beautiful, some are cramped and none have adequate restrooms for the ladies. The dinner clubs have been a pleasant surprise – 54 Below is a great place with good shows and food.

Two more weeks to go and so much yet to see! We will appreciate the Tonys so much more this year!

Barbara Price

© 2008-2015 R.K. Price


Positive Age Stereotyping

December 27, 2012

We have all heard that “we are what we eat.” It turns out “we are what we think” as well.

A recent study on age on age stereotyping suggested to me that I should update a blog of several years ago on the beneficial effects of a positive attitude in retirement.

One of the great determinants of successful retirement is our ability to maintain a positive attitude and positive self image. Retirement brings many changes and we need to be able to adjust to them and control them to the extent to which we are able. Beyond the transition from full-time employment, over time there will likely be changes in finances, health, relationships, housing and other aspects of life. A positive attitude and positive self image can help us take advantage of opportunities and “roll with the punches” if need be.

The most recent study followed several hundred adults age 70 and over during a ten year period and assessed their likelihood of recovering from a period of disability in relation to whether their views of old age were stereotypically positive or negative. The study showed that people with positive views were significantly more likely to make a full recovery.

Other studies have had similar results:

The Ohio Longitudinal Study of Aging and Retirement is a 20 year study that examined, among other things, the attitudes of people 50 and over toward aging.  The study found that people with a positive attitude about growing older lived an average of 7.5 years longer than those with a more negative attitude.  Positive attitude was a better predictor of longevity than healthy cholesterol level, regular exercise or not smoking!

The University of California San Diego School of Medicine did a study of people aged 60 to 98 regarding, among other things, their perceptions of whether they were aging successfully.  The researchers found that optimism and the ability to cope successfully with life’s challenges (attitude) were actually more important to a positive perception than physical health.

A study at the University of Texas looked at whether there was a connection between attitude and increasing frailty as people became older.  The researchers found that people who had a positive attitude were significantly less likely to become frail.  The researchers were not able to determine why that is the case but the lead researcher, Dr. Glenn Ostir said: “I believe that there is a connection between mind and body and that our thoughts and attitudes/emotions affect physical functioning and overall health, whether through direct mechanisms, such as the immune function, or indirect mechanisms, such as social support networks.”

And consider the “placebo effect.”  People who take a placebo and think they are going to get better frequently do.  It is the power of thinking positively.

Consider also all the motivational speakers – corporate, religious, athletic, military, political etc.  When you cut through to the core of their messages you more often than not you arrive at building and maintaining a positive attitude and positive self image.

So, if a positive attitude is a good thing to have, how do we go about getting one?  Some people seem to be blessed with a “natural” positive attitude to “look on the bright side” and “see the glass as half full” rather than half empty.  But if we are not one of those people what do we do?

Attitudes are forged in our thoughts, so we want to change or enhance our attitude we need to begin with how we think about situations and relationships.  Think about your attitudes toward how you spend your time, how much you are learning, your close friends, your neighbors, your health, your diet, your income, your happiness or other aspects of your life. Then reflect on how a more positive attitude with respect to those situations and relationships could have a beneficial effect in your life.  Consider how you might articulate that more positive attitude.  Write it down and repeat it to yourself every day, several times a day and look for ways to make it real in how you behave when you are by yourself and with others.  This is called positive affirmation and it is one of the most powerful ways to change attitudes.

Other things we can do:

  • Have a plan for what you want to accomplish in life; don’t let things just happen to you.
  • Take care of yourself physically and mentally.
  • Be positive in your speech.
  • Smile frequently.
  • Look for the good in situations and people.
  • Feel comfortable “in your own skin.”
  • Focus on what you can do rather than what you can’t.
  • Think of what you have rather than what you don’t have.
  • Laugh out loud and find humor in daily life.
  • Take time to help others.
  • Communicate.  Don’t hold things inside.
  • Manage an internal critic by focusing on ways to make things better.
  • Stay engaged with life – intellectually, socially, physically.

“Yes, a positive attitude really does make a difference.” –  Michael F. Roizen, MD

R. Kevin Price

© 2008-2012 R.K. Price

Successful Aging in Retirement

June 30, 2011

“Successful Aging”  is a broader topic than “successful retirement.” We begin to age as soon as we are born and we all age at the same rate – if you and I are born on the same day, after 23,731 days we are both 65 years old.

But we may differ substantially on how much we have aged mentally and physiologically. Some of the difference can be traced to genetics and there isn’t much we can do about that (at least yet). But much of the difference results from the lifestyle choices we have made throughout our lives, and continue to make as we move into the future. Better lifestyle choices can help us age more
successfully and delay senescence.

But how do we define “successful aging”? Long life? No loss of mobility? Freedom from disease? Staying sharp mentally? Avoiding a nursing home? Remaining happy?

Robert Havighurst, writing in the first issue of the journal The Gerontologist in 1961, defined it as “adding life to the years” and “getting satisfaction from life.” R.C. Gibson said it entailed “reaching one’s potential” and achieving a level of physical, social and psychological well-being” that is pleasing both to yourself and others.

John Rowe and Robert Kahn in their book Successful Aging (Pantheon, 1998) define successful aging as the ability to maintain three key behaviors or characteristics:

1. low risk of disease and disease-related disability;
2. high mental and physical function;
3. active engagement with life.

Another way of putting it is that there are three essential components over which you have some control: physical, mental and social.

There is a plethora of research which demonstrates that to maintain physical well-being we need to exercise and live healthy life styles. We can also become informed about the physical aging process – what is normal and what isn’t. It is surprising how little most of us know about what to expect as we age and what we can do to offset age-related declines.

To maintain mental/cognitive well-being we need to exercise our brains in new and challenging ways. Ball-room dancing, solving challenging puzzles, learning a foreign language are all excellent activities. And it is important to note that recent research proves that you can continue to learn and develop at any age and stage of life. Don’t believe the old adage “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks”
because you can.

The third component of Rowe & Kahn’s model is that of remaining actively engaged with life. Remaining socially engaged or meaningfully connected can be harder if you are no longer in the workforce and your built-in social circle of co-workers is no longer available. There are many ways to fill that gap, ranging from joining clubs to spending more time with family, taking classes or
volunteering. Many individuals find that in retirement there is now the time for creativity, exploration, continued learning and for giving back.

So while successful aging and successful retirement are different topics, they are clearly related. Focusing on both aspects of growing older can help us fill our senior years with a sense of satisfaction, meaning, achievement,  fulfillment and well-being. That’s my definition of successful aging.

R. Kevin Price

© 2008-2011 R.K. Price