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Published July 27. 2013 09:03AM

Life changes and so must we. When I could no longer play the piano, I tried playing a recorder instead. When I couldn't play the recorder, I started making pine straw baskets.

When basket-making became too difficult, I got some Sudoku books and did those puzzles. When my shaky hands wouldn't let me put numbers in the little squares, I got Sudoku books with bigger squares.

Luckily, my number one activity - reading - hasn't changed. Sure, my eyes aren't perfect, but they're good enough. If I start a book that doesn't appeal to me, I stop reading. I won't waste my eyesight on mediocre books.

As we age, we must adapt to our current capabilities. Once, I could do a good cartwheel. Now I am happy when I can walk a straight line without tripping. Once, I could play the organ for a church service. Now, I am happy when my fingers cooperate in holding a sharp knife.

We must also adapt mentally. It is easy to become depressed about the things we cannot do anymore. But, it's also easy to find new interests and develop new capabilities. No matter how old or how feeble you are, there is something you can do.

When you're young, adapting is part of life. Each year in school you change classrooms and teachers and friends. Your body goes through changes that require you to buy new clothes, feel different feelings, and harness your rampaging emotions.

My granddaughter once said to me, "Grandma, your hair is whiter than your teeth." I laughed, but I also went home and bought some tooth whitening paste. I made an adaptation so that my granddaughter would notice. She did, and I felt better.

Our neighbor is 92 years old. She still tries to walk her two dogs every day - at least twice. But, she has been suffering from a sore back, so she asked a younger neighbor to help her by walking the dogs once a day. Making that simple adaptation gives our neighbor a brief respite from her back pain. She isn't happy about the situation, but she knows that it's best for both her and her dogs.

The other day, my husband had to spray a wasp nest on our porch. He knocked it down the next morning. Sure enough, those darn wasps found another area of the porch and started building again. They certainly adapted to my husband's attempt at destruction. He won't give up, however, and I know that ultimately the wasps will be forced to go to a different porch.

Animals and humans alike need the strength and courage to adapt to life as it changes. Whether we are learning new skills or rebuilding our nests, life goes on.

To contact Dr. Smith, she can be reached at or in care of this newspaper.

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