Local author tackles one of life’s biggest worries
by Staff Writer
Sybil Lassiter is not one of those people too shy to reveal their age.
“I’m 83,” the Huntersville resident said unabashedly. “ … Everybody says they want to live a long time, but nobody wants to grow older. My grandkids say, ‘Boy, you are old.’ I say, ‘You’re lucky if you get this old.
Lassiter, who has a Ph.D. in nursing theory, is hoping her book, “The Good Life: A Positive Approach to Growing Older,” will encourage other senior citizens to embrace their age and break down negative stereotypes often associated with getting older.
Older people often have higher self-esteem, can cope better with emotional situations and are not as afraid of death as younger people. Of course, seniors often get discounts at restaurants or retail stores and are treated with more respect by others. They are often involved in more volunteer activities and become active in their retirement communities.
Lassiter spoke to senior citizens in other countries to discover how they felt about aging for her book. One retired judge said, “It’s better than the alternative.”
But overall, the seniors, from various countries and backgrounds, were generally very happy people.
One chapter in Lassiter’s book focuses on different types of retirement and why seniors decide to retire or keep working. Before retiring at age 67, Lassiter served as a professor of nursing at several universities and was a nurse at various hospitals, nursing homes and other health care agencies. She knew when it was the right time for her to retire.
“I had worked all my life,” Lassiter said. “I was working when I was going to school, when I got married and when I had kids. If you worked that long, you are ready to retire by 65 or 67.”
But the decision to retire can be hard for some, Lassiter said. She found that seniors were working longer to pay off their children’s college tuitions or support their children when they come back home after being unable to find work. Others feel they will lose their identity if they are not working.
“One woman said, ‘Who will I be if I retire?’” Lassiter said. “I thought about that and I said, ‘Well, who were you before you became a doctor? Who were you before you became a professor?’ She couldn’t remember her life before because that was a status thing.”
Living Now Book Awards awarded Lassiter the gold medal in the maturity and aging category. Living Now recognizes the creators of the world’s lifestyle and home style books. More than 400 applicants from 28 states, five Canadian provinces and five oversea countries entered the contest. Winners were notified last month.
“I was surprised because I knew my publisher had entered me in the contest, but there were so many applicants and entries,” Lassiter said.
In the end, Lassiter hopes her book changes perception of aging.
“Everyone thinks aging is the most horrible thing that can happen to you,” she said, “but there are perks to getting older, believe it or not.”