Books offer well-tested insights for the 'Best Half of Life'

Mature writers fill guides with practical tips on memoirs, moving and memory

Life After 50

February 23, 2003|By Korky Vann | Korky Vann,Special to the Sun

If the challenges of aging have you searching for information to help ease the passage, an independent publishing house in california wants to help. Quill driver books has developed a line of self-help books dealing with memory loss, moving, creating memoirs and other subjects designed to appeal to the over-50 crowd.

The Best Half of Life guides range from $12.95 to $14.95 and are filled with large, easy-to-read print, practical tips, checklists and anecdotes from older writers who have experienced the subject matter. President Steve Mattee says the series' title was chosen to appeal to aging baby boomers as well as individuals in their 60s, 70s and beyond -- and all authors doing books for the guides will be 50 or older.

"The 'best half' of your life can start whenever you want it to; it doesn't have to be when you retire or turn 65 or any other arbitrary point," says Mattee. "These books deal with lifestyle issues many of us face at different times as we age. I can't imagine younger writers being able to cover these topics with the same insight older authors can provide."

Like moving. Whether you want to live closer to children, retire to a warmer climate, downsize or move into accommodations that offer a greater degree of assistance or security, relocating later in life can be difficult. Just ask Wilma Willis Gore, author of the newest book in the series, Just Pencil Me In: Your Guide to Moving & Getting Settled After 60.

The active octogenarian, who has moved six times in 10 years, was so worried about the mess she caused in friends' address books each time she relocated that she included the following rhyme with her most recent change-of-address cards:

Use caution! As it's always been,

Save your ink. Just pencil me in.

The verse provided both the inspiration for and title of Gore's book, which hit bookstore shelves recently. Her extensive personal experiences in finding just the right living situation provided much of the information contained in the guide.

"After my husband died in 1991, I moved from our home of 20 years to a small cabin in the mountains, a location that turned out to be too remote. Then I moved into a retirement community, which turned out to be too expensive for my fixed income, so I did long-term house sitting for a friend who traveled a great deal," says Gore. "After that, I was in a small apartment for a while, back in another retirement community, and finally I settled into a house-sharing arrangement that has worked very well."

Along the way, Gore learned strategies for making new friends, finding roommates, moving into smaller quarters, handling finances, creating lists, working with movers, packing and storing belongings, getting settled and handling the scores of other tasks involved in relocating, which she shares with readers.

"There are variations and alternatives in senior living that most folks have never considered," says Gore. "People should access their needs ahead of time to find the best situation for them, and then again afterward to be sure they're happy where they landed. There's no law that says you've got to stay somewhere forever if it's not working for you. I'm fairly certain there's another move in the cards for me."

Other titles in the series include Videotape Your Memoirs: The Perfect Way to Preserve Your Family's History; It's Never Too Late to Be Happy: Reparenting Yourself for Happiness; and the most popular, The Memory Manual: 10 Simple Things You Can Do to Improve Your Memory After 50.

Mattee says additional topics under consideration for the series include an Internet primer for older adults, golfing after 50 and even a guide to the Old Testament for seniors.

"Our goal is to help make aging less complicated and more enjoyable by providing information for people over 50 by people over 50," says Mattee. "To be able to benefit from other people's experience is the best kind of self-help there is."

Korky Vann writes for the Hartford Courant, a Tribune Publishing Newspaper.

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