You might be getting older: if you say tsk, tsk more often than you used to; if the skin on your arms is getting crepey; if you walk like Redd Foxx upon arising; if you wear peds with sandals; if you have trouble remembering what you forgot; if you think the golden years are only gilded, and countless other clues.

For those of us who live in the moment, aging can come as a big surprise. Diminished physical ability, aches and pains, and new ailments suddenly change our lives, and it can be scary.

You might still be all right but see these signs of aging in a loved one. Don't despair; there are solutions to most of the problems. The North Country makes a sincere effort to help its senior citizens.

MEALS ON WHEELS

If the house has grown too big for you to handle, think about moving to a smaller residence. There are apartments that are easier to keep up, and some are subsidized for those with limited income.

When even the smaller digs are beyond you, in some places there are a corps of younger women who will come to help. They will even take you food shopping or pick up what you need from a list. If the increase in the cost of food is leaving you with too much month at the end of your income, look into food stamps. That's what they're for.

Cooking for one isn't fun, and if you are weary of preparing food, consider Meals on Wheels. They will bring you a hot dinner, saving you the trouble. The food isn't gourmet, but it's hot, inexpensive and nutritious.

Bless the volunteers who make the deliveries and those who make it a pleasant experience. However, thinking outside the box could result in improvement. Why hasn't someone asked a school with culinary and nutritional training to come up with new menus? Maybe Paul Smith's College or Plattsburgh State. CVPH Medical Center might share recipes from its improved cuisine. Chef Ballard might contribute a few. I'll bet Chris at the North Country Soup Kitchen would be happy to furnish instructions for a few of his delicious soups. Or Peg of Peg's Kitchen, which is sorely missed. There are many wonderful cooks in the area, and it isn't any harder to prepare tasty meals than it is to serve up bland, starchy ones, even given strict budgets.

WALK AND SHOP

If you are struggling with balance, maybe you should have a cane or walker. There are closets of equipment available. They even have chairs for the shower that can help you feel more confident.

To stay in shape or rebuild muscle tone, your doctor might prescribe physical therapy. Or if you're convenient to Plattsburgh, you can take to the YMCA pool Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons. The Town of Plattsburgh sponsors stretch sessions, well within the capabilities of most. At Champlain Centre, you could join the mall walkers, who can stroll no matter what the weather -- and shop at the same time.

Did you ever wake up with a strange pain, dizziness or other distressing condition? You're probably much too considerate to call anyone, so you lie there wondering if you'll be around in the morning. You need a lifeline, a panic button around your neck or on your wrist that alerts someone 24/7. Push the button, and a voice asks about your problem. They'll send medics, alert a neighbor or call a relative -- whatever you need. It's waterproof, so you can even wear it in the shower.

Volunteers are happy to take you to the doctor if you don't have transportation.

GET BUSY

Maintain social contact. Go eat lunch with your peers at a senior center. Get involved at your house of worship, either at an existing gathering or ask about creating a brown-bag lunch group. Form a bridge, scrabble or poker club. It's a good time to get involved in politics. If you're up to it, volunteer with Hospice to ease the pain of a family dealing with terminal illness. Help out at CVPH. Look into adult education classes that will give you a new interest. You'll feel better about yourself if you make a contribution to our community.

If any of these suggestions interest you, talk to the helpful folks at Clinton County Office of the Aging at 565-4620. Essex and Franklin counties have programs, too. Call the Essex County office at 873-3784 and, in Franklin County, the number is 481-1526.

If they don't know, they will put you in touch with someone who does.

There is lots of help available, but you have to take the initiative. Decide what you need, then ask about it. Chances are, help is handy.

You didn't invent getting older, you know.

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