IF YOU THINK growing older is synonymous with diminished mental activity, think again. There’s an old saying that the old can do anything the young can do, it just takes longer.

As proof, I ask you to look at the wide range of activities available to senior citizens today. Very few of us are going to be content to stay in that old rocking chair. They do still sell rocking chairs today, don’t they?

Someone once said “Youth is not a time of life, it is a state of mind. Nobody grows old by merely living a number of years. People grow old by deserting their ideals.

“You are as young as your faith, as old as your doubts, as young as your self-confidence, as old as your fears, as young as your hope, as old as your despair.”

More and more people are living into their 80s and 90s. Some are even living to celebrate their 100th birthday. Depending on their health, it is debatable whether living such a long life is preferable.

Growing old does not have to mean diminished mental activity. Even back in the 1980s, there were examples of great achievement by people in their late 80s and 90s. An article I rediscovered recently said 90% of people more than the age of 65 showed no mental impairment.

For example, Nobel Prize winner Albert Szent-Györgi continued to work at cancer research at the age of 91. Industrialist Armand Hammer at 86 followed a worldwide itinerary that left his junior executives exhausted.

Pablo Picasso was still painting at 91. Grandma Moses was active at 101. Arturo Toscanini gave his last performance at 87. Giuseppe Verdi wrote “Falstaff” at 80. Konrad Adenauer was Chancellor of West Germany at 87.

Arthur Rubinstein excited audiences with his piano playing well into his 90s. Artists Marc Chagall and Georgia O’Keeffe were active at 97. Bob Hope and George Burns lived to be 100, and continued to bring joy and laughter to audiences all over the world.

As we live longer lives, we will see many people retire from one career and begin a new one. Many will go on to accomplish great things that may have never been possible had they not embraced the opportunities that came along.

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IMMIGRATION IS a polarizing debate, with hard-liners in both parties pushing lawmakers to make crucial decisions. An immigration bill needs to address the future of legal and illegal immigrants. Even if action is taken now, the issue will remain on the front page for years.

Democrats have enough votes in Congress to force an agreement to shield the so-called “Dreamers,” young immigrants whose legal protections expire March 5, under President Donald Trump’s decision to end a program called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

Democrats want there to be a path to citizenship. Some Republicans also support some type of protections, but want to curb legal and illegal immigration as part of any deal; and other Republican Party lawmakers disparage any legal status as “amnesty.”

No one questions the need for legal immigration. America is a country of immigrants. Our future growth and prosperity depends on smart immigration. The key to smart immigration policies is to rigorously screen for immigrants who are accretive to America, said Frank Berlage, CEO of Multilateral Partners Global Advisory Group.

He said immigration should be based on merit. Newcomers should have a high education, a history of achievement, capital to invest in our economy and the ability to assimilate with American values.

“Almost all organizations endeavor to hire on the principle of finding the best person who can make the best contribution,” said Berlage. “Why wouldn’t we do this as a country when dealing with immigration?”

The real crux of the matter in the current debate is does the United States get to decide who will be allowed to immigrate or will we essentially have open borders, said Stephen Weeks of Houston, Texas. Other nations have systems for determining which immigrants can make a meaningful contribution and who won’t become a public burden.

Eli Litman of Las Vegas, Nev., recently said we can’t compare today’s immigration to that of 200 years ago. “Immigrants coming to America in the first 200 years had no choice but to work or starve. Immigrants haven’t changed. This nation has, with its free services and until the system changes, we must embrace new standards.”

Not all immigrants need to be highly educated and wealthy. In fact, millions of jobs require trade skills and people willing to do the work most Americans consider beneath them. That is a separate issue. Most Americans also have a problem with lax family unification (chain migration).

Current policy gives preference to relatives of current immigrants. Much like anchor babies, if one immigrant makes it to America, that person suddenly has a dozen relatives living with them. Many come illegally and aren’t vetted. That doesn’t mean they aren’t good people.

It’s like this. Let’s say you are standing in line with 1,000 other people to buy tickets to a concert or sporting event. The number of tickets available is very limited and you are about number 500 in the line. You have been waiting in terrible weather for several hours.

Toward the front of the line, at about position 100, you see a person invite eight additional people who just arrived join them in the line. Those “relatives” have jumped the line and they just might take the tickets that have your name on them. Is that fair?