Saturday July 27, 2013

ELIZABETH CONKEY

Staff Writer

BENNINGTON -- Getting older is a beautiful thing, according to Scott Funk.

A native of Richmond, Funk spoke to that end Friday, addressing about 30 members of the Bennington Rotary Club about the beauty of aging at the organization’s regular weekly meeting at the Bennington Station.

As a home equity retirement specialist for Security 1 Lending in Richmond, Funk said that through his work, he’s noticed that most of his clients are "anti-aging," or, perhaps, are in denial about their age.

"Sometimes I find my peers pretend they’re not aging at all," he said. "But getting older is a beautiful thing. We should do this together, not hide from it."

After coming to this realization about nine years ago, Funk has been making frequent appearances all over Vermont at churches, libraries, and organization meetings, and speaking his piece about why getting older actually isn’t as bad as most make it out to be. He also writes a column, "Aging in Place," for several Vermont publications in which he voices his age advocacy opinions.

Funk began his presentation to the Bennington Rotary Club by asking how many in the audience wanted to grow older. Not surprisingly, very few hands were raised.

Funk went on to explain that the way the baby boomer generation ages and perceives aging is, in general, negative. Funk, however, believes wholeheartedly in the beauty of aging and has made aging advocacy his livelihood.

"When I turned 50, I realized that if I lived to be 100, I would have spent half of my life in one century and the other half in another," Funk said. "That is an incredible thing."

Funk continued, saying that, in a way, he doesn’t blame his fellow baby boomers for feeling the way they do about aging, because this world doesn’t really prepare its inhabitants to get older and we seem to only hear about the woes of the elderly.

"You can do one of two things," Funk said. "You can embrace aging, like a river taking you down a stream, or you can fight it. Believe me," he continued, "You will eventually lose."

Funk encouraged the audience to be more communicative with their peers and loved ones about getting older and, eventually, dying.

"By doing this," he said, "You are giving them permission to get older, too."

Funk advised holding family meetings about funerals and end of life plans.

"It is of course very hard to have these conversations," he said, "because no one wants to hear or talk about death. What a lot of us seem to forget throughout life, though, is that death is a gift."

He closed his presentation by telling the audience members to enjoy every minute of their personal aging process and to make an effort to see the beauty in everything, every day.

"Do what you can with what you have," Funk advised, "for as long as you can."

To learn more about Funk and his aging advocacy, visit www.vermontfunk.com.