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Published on October 31, 2016

What’s so funny about aging? Plenty, say these women.What’s so funny about aging? Plenty, say these women.


Amanda Murphy & Kathy Budreski

Amanda Murphy and Kathy Budreski are surrounded by aging. As registered nurses, they both work in elder care facilities, and present seminars on growing old and the end of life. Murphy is 70. Budreski is 73. Even one of Murphy’s dogs is old.

So why are they laughing?

“The whole thing is, you just have to laugh at it,” Murphy said, sitting in her home office. “There are a lot of funny things about aging.”

“And fun things,” Budreski added. She then told a story about her mother who, at 76, bought a plane ticket at the last minute and flew to California with a friend “without a toothbrush or a pair of underpants.”

“That’s an example of having fun and taking risks,” Budreski said. “As we get older, we want to be in our comfort zone, but we have to take risks.”

Murphy and Budreski, friends and colleagues who often finish each other sentences, are combining forces to present a seminar, “What’s So Funny About Aging & Being Mortal: Challenging Perspectives on Aging and Dying,” from 2:30 to 5 p.m. Nov. 10 at the Cultural Center of Cape Cod, 307 Main St., South Yarmouth.

The cost is $35 but a few scholarships are available (For information call Murphy at 508-862-6395.) The afternoon will explore myths and negative images about aging and present paths to a more positive outlook. Murphy and Budreski hope to attract professionals (the day is worth two continuing education credits) as well as elders.

“It’s the older people ourselves who hold these stereotypes,” Murphy said. “In this country we revere the youth instead of the elderly. … It used to be that the elderly people were the keepers of the wisdom. Now, we’re just the doddering old fools.”

Move From Aging to “Sage-ing”

Both Murphy and Budreski have extensive experience working with aging populations and as nurse educators. Murphy, who is a holistic registered nurse, offers seminars on aging, nutrition, stress management and other topics throughout the community and does one-on-one coaching through her company, Wellness Paths. She still works per diem at Mayflower Place in West Yarmouth.

Budreski runs “What If” seminars on issues such as the practical and spiritual issues surrounding the end of life, works per diem at Wingate at Harwich, volunteers as the leader of a memoir-writing group and is a trained pastoral counselor. Both have been involved in the local Quality of Life Management Task Force’s effort to start a Cape discussion about end of life issues.

The two women met when they went to one another’s seminars. That developed into coffee, then lunches, then collaboration. They embody what they are urging elders to believe: Old age shouldn’t be a burden but rather an opportunity to do what you love and re-invent yourself.

“One of the fun things for me is this whole thing of re-invention,” said Murphy. “I’m not ready to go to pasture because I’m 70. I’m re-inventing myself.” She started her coaching business 10 years ago and is getting busier all the time, she said.

“We want people to claim their full stature as elders,” Budreski said. “There are so many baby boomers coming along that will need services and care and they not going to be shelved in a nursing home; they are going to want a richer life.”

Their toolkit for teaching positive aging includes the physical and spiritual values of humor and gratitude.

The goal of the Nov. 10 seminar is to improve attendees’ attitudes toward aging by busting stereotypes of the aged as frail and then encouraging a discussion about control over end-of-life issues.  One of Murphy’s favorite books is “This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism,” by Ashton Applewhite. Budreski turns to Atul Gawande’s,  “Being Mortal” as a powerful source.

Their presentation is a combination of common sense, humor, science, empowerment and spiritual exercises. The trick they say, is to get from “aging” to “sage-ing” and to discover the positive in growing old.


“What’s So Funny About Aging & Being Mortal: Challenging Perspectives on Aging and Dying,” will be presented by Amanda Murphy and Kathleen Budreski from 2:30 to 5 p.m. Nov. 10 at the Cultural Center of Cape Cod, 307 Main St., South Yarmouth. The cost is $35 but a few scholarships are available. For information call Murphy at 508-862-6395. The seminar counts for 2 CE credits for professionals.