When I sat down with Dorie Beach recently in her sunny, book-lined living room here in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, where she has lived for the past 17 years, she shared with me some of her thoughts on living here in “the third age.”
“Mexicans call it la tercera edad [the third age; the first being up to age 30; the second, from 30 to 60],” Dorie, who is now 88, told me. “They even reserve special parking spaces under that heading for older people’s convenience.”
She went on: “There is so much respect for older people in this culture. Once, not long ago, when I fell on the cobblestone street, three young Mexican men rushed to help me up and find a taxi for me. Would this have happened in New York, I wonder?”
Dorie, who was born and raised in New Jersey and later lived and worked for many years as a certified social worker in both New York and Phoenix, still maintains a private practice, while continuing to help people in need by facilitating support groups from her home here in San Miguel on a regular basis, as a community service.
One of the groups Dorie facilitates focuses on bereavement and meets once a week, at 3 pm on Thursdays. “I’ve had this bereavement group for over two years,” Dorie told me. “There are usually eight-to-twelve attendees who come and go. They know that someone will be here to listen to them, really listen. I believe every time a bereaved person tells their story, there’s a little bit of healing.”
Dorie’s second group, for caregivers of dementia and Alzheimer’s patients, meets in her home every other week; and the third group, for parents estranged from their grown children, which has been on hiatus, will regroup and resume soon.
“Magical things happen in groups such as these,” Dorie said. “I feel very fortunate in that I entered a field that was very right for me. This is what gives me a sense of purpose. This is why I’m here. I’m doing what I should be doing.”
When I asked her what sustains her, she was quick to say, “I sustain myself.”
“I’m not a depressive type,” she said. “The work I do with people helps to sustain me.”
In addition, she practices a form of meditation called Ishaya Ascension, a simple, accessible-to-all meditation technique (www.thebrightpath.com). And she’s been “a U.U.” [member of the Universal Unitarian congregation] “from way back,” she said. Last November, when she suffered a fracture and was laid up in a hospital in Houston, where she knew no one, members of the local U.U. church there visited her “like family.”
And what are her views on aging, from her lofty perch of 88?
“I don’t think getting old is a scary process,” she said, “at least after you’ve prepared for it. Perhaps when you become really ill it’s easier to die. But I haven’t gotten there yet.”
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Note: For more information about Dorie’s private practice or her support groups, contact her by e-mail at: email@example.com. Note also that Dorie and her friend Christina Johnson will be giving a free lecture on Friday, January 27 at 4 pm at Casa Europa on San Francisco in San Miguel on the subject of EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Processing).