We Have Never Seen a Year Like 2017
Things to Do Now to Resist and Protect

Watching Myself Grow Old

A couple of weeks ago, we had a long discussion about cosmetic surgery in old age. The comments score pro and con, if you don't count a few who confused cosmetic and reconstructive surgery, was about 50/50.

It baffles me how anyone, particularly those no longer competing in the workforce, would spent a moment of precious time thinking about how old he or she looks, let alone spend retirement funds to achieve a facsimile of youth that fools no one.

On one level, I get it. We live in an ageist world that devalues people over the age of – oh, it starts around 40 - and the constant drumbeat in every communications media that old people are, by definition, deficient is shameful.

Quote-growing-old

Like so many, I was forced out of the workplace due to my age long before I was ready to retire. In addition, I've been made invisible in dozens of different ways. My thoughts and opinions have been dismissed merely because I'm old and wrinkled.

Actually, I complained about that last item until I was 30 or so when I finally began to look like a grownup. Until then, I had looked like a teenager and was so happy to finally be taken seriously. No one warned me then that there would be an expiration date.

Perhaps that dismissal of me in my youth accounts for never having spent a single serious moment wishing I were younger than I am (currently 75).

Mostly I got on with life and career and never thought about growing old until that day in 1995 or 1996 when I noticed that I was older by decades than the 20-somethings I worked with.

It was a turning point for me that day, the idea that I am not the one immortal on earth and that I will get old, I will die and I've spent a large portion of my days since then studying, researching and thinking about ageing - the results of which, beginning in 2004, have become this blog.

Any of you who have been hanging around here for awhile know that I often use myself as the guinea pig; if it – whatever “it” is - happens to me, it happens to thousands of you too.

So when I have a problem with urinary incontinence, so do some of you. Or with going bald, something more surprising to women, I think, than men, I'm not the only one. Or dropping things more frequently as I've gotten older, I know it's not just my problem.

I'm pretty sure – well, actually, I know I would never have been capable of confronting those (and many other) ageing issues, writing about them here and particularly, admitting to them if I were concerned about looking or even being old.

There's an old wive's tale that no matter how healthy you have been, after 75 it's all down hill. That's been on my mind this past year along with the idea – more often male than female – that you might be likely to die at the same age your father (for men) or mother (for women) did.

Both of these ideas are really stupid. What kind of idiot would believe them? Ahem, try me.

My mother died at age 75 and nine months. I have been acutely aware since my last birthday in April that this month, January 2017, I am the same age as my mother at her death. I know it's absurd but what can I say. It's there. It pops to mind regularly.

It's not growing old or looking old that bothers me anywhere near as much as losing the good health I've enjoyed all my life. I understand perfectly that I have no control over the former and I'm working on understanding the same for the latter.

Meanwhile, with great curiosity and interest, I keep watch on the signs of my ageing. They accumulate.

It was seven or eight years ago I noticed that a smile line on one side of my mouth didn't disappear anymore when I wasn't smiling. Since then I've carefully watched it grow deeper and be joined by its partner, etched on the other side of my mouth. I don't mind.

Then there is the crepe-y skin in all manner of places on my body. It increased abundantly after I lost 40 pounds four years ago - on my belly, my arms, my hands, my thighs and lately, even my knees. If I live long enough, I suppose I'll just be a saggy bag of wrinkles.

What now seems more remarkable to me is how many decades my skin remained relatively smooth. It apparently takes a long time for skin to wear out. wrinnkled hands

These days, I tire more easily compared to most of my life before now. A weariness comes over me sometimes in the afternoon that is similar to what I felt in bygone days in the late evening at bedtime.

Also, all my life I have been eager to hop out of bed as soon as I wake, to get going with the day, to see what it will bring. For the past couple of months, for the first time ever, I'm just as happy to pull the quilt over my head and snooze for another hour or two.

There is more, but you get the point and I'm not alarmed or worried about these physical changes. I'm almost four years short of 80. It's okay.

What does concern me are the changes I've noticed in my brain function, even though I know they are normal for my age.

It is harder now to organize my to-do list each day, to work out what should come first, second, etc. Sustained focus, such as finishing an article I'm reading or getting at least a rough draft of a blog post done before moving on is a goal now, not a fact.

Even I am not sure how many partly finished books, magazine stories and blog posts are floating around.

Making some types of choices has become a joke. For all my adult life, I made a distinction between a review being all I want to know about about a book's subject and others I was eager to read in full.

Now, if I read the review, the book goes on my to-read list. There are either a whole lot more better books in the world than 20, 25 years ago or I can't make make the distinction anymore. You know which of those two choices is correct.

I'm pretty sure all that I've described is how it happens, this getting old stuff. Even if like me, you jave been lucky enough so far to have no chronic illnesses or conditions (she said knocking wood), one's capabilities for ordinary things get chipped away at as the years pile up.

So far I'm having a fine ol' time watching the changes come over my life and I'm grateful I'm not burdened with a yearning for youth. I don't claim any superior level of understanding about that - I didn't earn it; it's just how I am.

My hope is that as I inevitably grow less capable in body and mind in coming years, I can accept those changes with some composure, self-possession and particularly curiosity as I have until now.

older than the internet


Comments

I feel the same & I'm just 3 months shy of 80! And my wonderful mother lived to be 99! With all faculties intact. So I know exactly how you feel. Great blog today. However, the one thing that REALLY bugs me is the brown spots on my face. Why didn't they all go to my hands? Whadda' you gonna' do! Dee :):)

We're about the same age and I worry about the changes in my brain more than my body. Occasionally I'll ear myself say something that isn't true and I'll think, "I need to correct that!" By the time that thought comes the conversation has moved on and it's awkward to bring up a detail I wouldn't have screwed up even two years ago. I keep myself blogging because I consider it to be exercise for my brain. My coping tool is humor for dealing with the changes we are going through but that doesn't work for everyone and every situation.

You are gracious as ever...in mind, soul, and body. Thank you for your words that more than lift, educate, and enlighten me as I age. I'm 56 and so appreciate your wisdom. In fact, I appreciate you in a way that I probably wouldn't have when you were under the age of 40! Thank you!!!!

At 77, I've made two concessions to prettifying, for lack of a better word. The first is gel nails, which I won't give up until somebody makes me. The second is around-the-face highlights in my gray hair -- sometimes pink, sometimes teal, once purple. I love 'em, and I often have people come up to me in the grocery store or even on the street to smile and say they love my hair. (Male airline attendants REALLY love them!)

I don't think of them as a way of fighting aging; they're my way of saying I still like having fun. And, I have to admit, they make me less invisible than old women usually are.

All of the changes you list are true for me, as well, except for one: losing energy in the afternoon. The answer for me is to take a nap! It is now a habit, so my husband and I grab a blanket and curl up (he in his lazyboy and I on the couch), and we have a half hour or so nap. Solves the problem! If we have an appointment and miss it, we certainly feel the loss of energy as the day unfolds. I do wake up early—4:30 or 5:00 am, to write my blog, so couldn't function without my daily siesta!

Dear Ronni, I think it is a very natural thing to think about the age one's parent lived to, and wonder whether that will also be our own expiration date. My mom died at 52 (and three months), and that was a hard birthday for me. Now I am some years past that, and I still often think about the fact that I am older than my mother ever got to be. And with various health issues that mirrored hers (as well as some new ones of my own), I'm aware more and more that my days are numbered.

I didn't get a chance to comment on Monday's blog post (-- due to running around with young relatives, one unhappily returning to college and one voluntarily entering residential psychiatric treatment. I once expressed to my ill father, when he was 80, that I thought it must be hard being old, and he so wisely told me that life can be hard at any age -- ), but I am so grateful that you and the TGB community are determined to "resist and protect". You all inspire me and I will have you all in mind when I go to DC to march on January 21.

Finally, here is a quote by Alistair Cooke that I heard the other day on, of all places, that old sitcom "All in the Family". It seems so relevant somehow.

"In the best of times, our days are numbered anyway. So it would be a crime against nature for any generation to take the world crisis so solemnly that it put off enjoying those things for which we were presumably designed in the first place: ... the opportunity to do good work, to enjoy friends, to sit under trees, to fall in love, to read, to hit a ball and bounce the baby."

May we all continue to do the good work of helping one another, in however small ways, and to enjoy good friends. Apologies for the length of this post!

Wonderful post Ronni... I share your curiosity and willingness to experience the aging process. Recently I've noticed my cheeks have caved in a bit, and no, I haven't lost any weight lol.

I agree about the brain changes being the most challenging but I'm also curious about the fact that my "digital habits" have grown over the past few years. I've used the Internet for research but also as a distraction for various reasons. Will I be able to focus better as I limit my time online? I'll let you know...

The other thing I'm exploring is that with the unraveling that seems to be the aging process, my enjoyment in my reading, study, and meditation grows. Eriksons 8/9 steps of aging seem to be valid for me and I'm well into life review and, hopefully, integration.

And, lastly, I've come to understand that dying/death isn't what we've been taught to believe it is... So this time of integration seems to be very important as we move through the last years of life, toward death.

And you know at 45-50, you most likely are only halfway through your lifespan so it is cray cray to discount workers in that age group. But I know all about age discrimination now that I am staring at the downside of 50. Three years ago I left the private legal field to work in the public sector and it was one of the best decisions of my life.

I just want to keep doing what I'm doing with energy and vigor, but I'm seeing that will change over the years and I will not be able to do so in the house where I live. Being able to live on one's own, drive, make one's own decisions. Those are all important to me. Yet...the time will come when that will change.

I'm amazed at the changes in my body. They don't gently creep up on me any more, they arrive as an army and get right to work. That part of aging kind of entertains me, but what doesn't entertain me is the changes in my psyche. I've always been a slightly edgy/anxious person, but it didn't run my life. Now, doctors offer me Xanax when I'm just in for routine things. I don't think my brain has the strength or flexibility I had even a few years ago to keep anxiety under control. Thank god for counseling.

I don't care if I turn into one giant incontinent wrinkle. As long as my brain cells keep firing away and I can remember all of my passwords, I know I'll be okay.

And to Diane at "Still the Lucky Few", I know that 4:30 feeling of fatigue except mine occurs about 2:30.

I really look forward to those "Lazyboy" naps.

Like you, I was carded at clubs until I was 30+. The same with my children. Just turned 80, but can't really guess my family-imposed limits as my mother died at 74 from lymphoma and my dad fell off a damaged roof he was repairing and was killed at 79. However, I take heart in knowing that most of his several brothers and sisters lived into their 90s.

This sort of thing really does not bother me much. Have lived long enough to see my kids living their own lives (for better or worse) and my grandchildren safely grown to adult-hood.

Had to give up one of my bookkeeping jobs due to encroaching cataracts, but that should be corrected in a month or two if eye surgery goes well. Will continue to work as long as I can, then figure out something else to keep me busy and in food money.

I had breast cancer in 2015, so at 73 my future is a big ??? (particularly since I was adopted and have no genertic history to look at). I'm grateful to be here and in relatively good health, all things considered. Yet I feel I've aged 10 years in the last 18 months and am still adjusting to that abrupt change (less strength, energy, flexibility; shorter attention span; less patience, etc). I guarantee that my age spots, thinning hair, sagging jowls, wrinkles/creases, round belly, etc., are of less than no concern. My greatest fear is losing my independence and being forced into a group home of some kind.

I didn't experience many of your "problems" until this year and I am 84. Now I get up more slowly, the bad knee and the stenosis complaining, but a hot shower will take care of them. My arthritic hands are something I avoid looking at, and i can't believe I got bags under my eyes at the age of 83!! However, I have' good friends of all ages and nobody calls me "dearie" not more than once anyhow. As a writer, I can keep doing what I love as long as my brain holds out and so far, so good.
My mother died at 78 and my brother before 70....smokers both of them. I'm looking to my grandparents who died at 88 more or less in their right minds and pleased with the lives thay had led.
My biggest challenge is caring for my 86 year old husband of 60 years whose mind is slowly deteriorating and whose legs aren't much use. All the chores we used to split --- carrying heavy bags, getting the paper, dish washing and fire making are e now and I get weary and yes, I'll admit it, on occasion cranky. But he still loves me and has flashes of humor that make it all worthwhile.
I have a 95 year old friend, once a model for Hattie Carnegie who is my rold model --- beautiful, charming and always smiling. Not sure I want to attain that advanced age, but if I do I want to do it with her style and grace!

Much as I resonate with the age-related complaints and concerns detailed here, I must admit to a sense of impatience. What is to be gained by a lament for all we have lost and fear of what we may lose next?
At the age of 80, I feel blessed to be alive in the present moment. "Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof."
Ann Burack-Weiss

All my life I expected to die, as had all my grandparents and father, at 82. I approached 82 with trepidation, with a couple of near-misses, and then last year, at 83, my daughter did some ancestry work and discovered they all, except my father had been 84, not 82! I had a good laugh over that. Tomorrow I turn 84. Next week I have a slightly-dangerous procedure in an attempt to relieve an agonizingly painful chronic conditions. I said to my driver-friend "I can think of worse ways to die, and at least they will know where I am and not have to break down my door to find me and a hungry kitty when I haven't been on Facebook for 3 days!" Actually the way I want to go is to "sing my last song, then just tumble off the front of the stage." I get a good laugh out of announcing this to my audiences when I'm singing. As you can tell, I'm comfortable with death, still having a wonderful life of singing, writing, and photographing nature, although it would sure be a lot easier without the pain and disabilities.

C'mon, people. Old age sucks! I just can't get all "oh, look, there's cute purple splotches on my arms from the blood thinner " And, "gee ain't that pacemaker cool", and "oh boy, look at that garp in my arteries that makes my legs ache". And, most amazing of all, "see how the world keeps disappearing around me as my retinas destroy themselves" Yep, I do not go gentle into that dark place. Sorry to be a downer, Ronni.

BUT, Jean, thank you for a great idea. Colored hair. I could do that. Maybe defying convention and flaunting my age would make a rebelious statement and help my crappy attitude.

I've outlived my Dad (78), whose genes for arterial garp I carry, but sometimes hope I don't make it to 94 all blind and deaf like my Mom. I'll turn 81 in mid Feb. when I expect to turn in the car keys. Yep, much about growing old sucks, IMHO.

First off--I'm thinking I need to copy the text of today's blog AND the comments to some file where I can revisit it from time to time (because, of course, you see, I won't be able to remember to look in the archive for January 4th. Sigh).

Ohgodohgodohgod, yes, all that stuff. I LOVED the Teilhard de Chardin quote. It surprised me to hear him complaining, but it also was endearing.

I only wish my vanity would go away. I do very occasionally these days go out without full eye makeup, just because it's such a **** bore to put it on every day. But I fervently hope I won't see anybody I know when I do it. I recently said here that I had a facelift at 49 and have never regretted it.

But it's certainly true, all the sans-everything stuff just keeps coming. I will be 80 in August. I'm less mobile than I was because of spinal stenosis. I do walk. But I have no stamina, and I have only myself to blame, since so far I can't seem to get myself to commit to mild daily walking which, no doubt would strengthen my muscles over time. I hired a dog walker so at least my dog isn't getting punished for my sins. I don't get out enough. The computer is very seductive. I need to get out more.

On the plus side, my eyes are doing all right, my hearing is as it was in my 20s, and I'm a much better candidate for Jeopardy than I used to be. I play the piano, and more seriously than ever in my life. My left hand hurts a bit when I do it. But it doesn't stop me, and in fact piano-playing is surprisingly low-impact. I gave a few recitals in 2015, and hope to do it again in 2017.

My mother lived to be 90, and her mother lived to be 96. My brother died just short of 82. I notice my energy is WAY down from what it used to be. And my short-term memory is like little bubbles exploding all the time. But aside from that--Mrs. Lincoln--my cognition is better than ever. I expect to be ringside to watch whatever appalling mishegas will be happening in the next 4-8 years. And I hope to be keeping company with all of you in doing it.

How I love the posts and comments here!

A bad fall on the ice two years ago and multiple losses changed my positive aging considerably and brought on a host of physical challenges.

At 73 I'm on a cornucopia of pills (this, for a former virulent anti-Big Pharma is a huge cosmic joke) which bring my blood pressure and sugar levels to a normal level.

Recently, I decided to eliminate certain foods from my intake and I am astonished at this new level of well-being which floods me in spite of infrequent low level pain and walking challenges.

For an elder who felt she was going to die, and soon, this has been an unexpected gift.

I can put up with dropping things, hair thinning, skin creping, etc., if this continues.

If I can laugh as I wobble and splatter, hell, it's all good.

XO
WWW


Tarzana, I'm with you! I'll be 80 on Friday and what's to like about it except that, at least for today, it still beats the alternative. I know that TGB is here to help us navigate and even "appreciate" getting old. I do appreciate TGB but not getting old--not at all. Not one bit!

My mother died of breast cancer at 69 and my father of natural causes at 84 (helped along by 3 packs a day, abundant booze and the typical American diet back then). I had some short-lived relatives and a couple who made it into their mid-90s. Up until a couple of years ago, I felt pretty much like I always had. I was still working P/T and doing almost everything I'd done since attaining adulthood.

Then came 78. I lost my job when my nonprofit employer of almost 40 years went bankrupt. I expected the usual aches and pains along with other signs of ageing, but not the back problem that set in seemingly overnight and decided to stay. Not the disconnection and disappearance of the entire rotator cuff from my right shoulder--that kind of stuff can sometimes make "the alternative" look less drastic. I'm not afraid of death, but I do fear the process of getting there; who looks forward to potentially losing their functionality and independence? BTW, I don't dwell on my deficits and am doing all I can to remain active and involved. "It is what it is.. ."

I've never had cosmetic surgery and eschewed pricey potions long ago, but I can understand why some older people wish to appear younger. They're resisting becoming a target in an ageist society where older people are discounted, called hokey pet names and more often than not treated with condescension. Society is what it is and I don't see that changing for a long time, if ever. So, even at 80, I color my hair beige-blonde, wear a little makeup and try to look the best I can for my age.

I drop things, I can't always recall what I had for breakfast, I tired easily, and when I look in the mirror I see my mother. I eat healthily but no longer really like cooking; it's become somewhat of a chore. With the time change and probably the change in seasons my regular sleep has become erratic. For the first time since I've retired I find myself sleeping only four hours and then having to take a nap. Ugh. Why list them, for me it's just a way of acknowledging what's going on and addressing another set of changes I will have to make.

I'm not afraid of dying. I'm afraid of being sick, in pain and or helpless. My mother died 4 months short of her 75th birthday. Mom smoked heavily until she was 60. She quit then when she was told she'd be dead in a year if she didn't. She died of emphysema related problems. It was a nasty way to go. I'm not a smoker. Still, I held my breath mentally this summer as I passed that marker on my way to 75 this winter.

One of my sisters gently told me she was worrying about me and that timing too, so it wasn't just me. It doesn't have to make sense. And our family got hammered when four of our younger cousins died in the last year. I'm the eldest. All the same it just quit being an issue when I got to be a mere month older than Mom. Even with some chronic problems including some emphysema and some RA like arthritis that comes and goes, I'm in better health now than she was at 60.

I am still caring for my two ten-year grandkids a day a week and two five year old one afternoon a week. My ten year old grandgirl told me that she and her siblings, even the little ones now know how to dial 911. That was a shock, but I do live alone, and it is pragmatically practical. I'm introducing them to my very nice neighbors across the hall which I should have done sooner.

On the plus side both of my grandmothers and my Dad lived into their late 80's. My Dad, and aunts on both genetic family sides made on their feet, with all their marbles and mostly interested in enjoying life. Some into their 90's. One day at a time.

I remember when I first noticed my face in a mirror. I must have been about five. have watched it change over the years and been amazed. It's a mystery. I'm just along for the ride.

Thanks, Ronni.

At 74, I've been fascinated watching the changes in both my body and mind. My health has been quite good. I go to an ayurvedic medicine clinic and follow their recommendations, which have been inexpensive and herbal for the most part. I don't take prescription meds simply because I'm afraid of all the side effects they seem to have (I've watched too many friends get sicker taking pills). I don't really care how I look, and that probably makes life easier. My friends are the same way. i walk every day weather permitting, do tai chi and faithfully use my Classical Stretch by Esmonde DVDs.

I rely on some workarounds to make sure I remember important things. I write myself notes and use a daily reminder system on my computer, but so far no major lapses.

My mother lived to be 93. She was physically active and still had a very sharp mind. She probably had some good years ahead of her when she was killed in an accident.

Unlike most people, I rather enjoy being invisible. It has its benefits.

Oh I hope that saying you will live as long as your mother doesn't apply to me. I'm 77 and she lived to 92 with I assume the dementia of that age. My body doesn't work now and my mind is iffy at times. Like today, I was going to the funeral of my friends husband. As I listened to people speaking I began to wonder why I only remembered a little bit of him. Had I not known him as long as them? Plus you should of been in my mind remembering how to get to that church, one I once belonged to.

I loved reading this post, and all the comments today! I have a bit of a twist on the deterioration of functions. I think I have cycles of better energy times and worse ones. Like today I'm not tired in the afternoon, and was able to do the laundry while checking emails. Some days I'm a lot less energetic.
Today I've arrived several times someplace and had to stand there and let my brain catch up and let me know what I was about to do. Some days that doesn't happen. I'm pretty sure I go through phases of maybe an infection in my sinuses or lungs, where I just want to lie down and read all day.
I also spend a LOT more time using things to help me breathe (like a nebulizer twice a day, and a C-Pap while sleeping) I was so worried that I wouldn't have any time left to live doing anything I loved. It hasn't happened yet, and I actually get better and shorter rest now. But I have decided not to use the nebulizer every day, but just when I feel my breathing isn't that good. I'm sure the doc won't like to hear that.
I now offer a ride to someone who just lost the use of her car. She is somewhat confused, and so the family told her that it didn't work any more. I hope when I need to let go of that level of independence, I can do it honestly. May we all survive and thrive as best we can.

92 and still aboard, but those daily naps sure do help, don't they? Hearing's shot and balance is bad so walking's more of a lurch and a reel, but life has never been more interesting. I'd like 30 more years of it.

Well Janet Jackson just gave birth and she's 50, so she'll be in her 70's by the time her child's out of college. Age is so much more relative these days than just a generation ago.

I so enjoy reading the comments here, even when the topics aren't always light-hearted. And I'm giving some some serious consideration to those teal, pink or purple highlights around the face. They could be a real pick-me-up during the winter doldrums here in the Midwest. At least it would be a different experience looking in the mirror.

Keep on keeping on ya'll!

My husband died at 65. I was 5 years younger. Soon I will be older than him. Still makes me teary.

I cannot imagine wanting to live for 30 more years, at 90, as someone above has opined. I wish I could get off the bus now, while still with my faculties intact.

I was slightly surprised when my eyesight improved ( no longer need glasses at home). However, it's a sign that cataracts are developing. Still, it's nice not to be wearing specs 24/7 (though still don't see the dust bunnies till I'm real close!!).

My husband really worried as he approached the age his father died, he is now 68 which is 3 years older than his dad. His mom died at 69 but he doesn't seem to worry about it.

I am watching my mom, 94, who was a very healthy, active independent person become more confused as her dementia takes over more and more. It has been coming on for the last 6 years and is very hard to watch her world get smaller.

I am healthy but I find that it is harder to concentrate or focus on completing a task and it takes longer to problem solve. I just keep setting goals and trying to achieve them

Thank you for the blog and the great conversation

I neglected to mention in my earlier post that I got my driver's license renewed yesterday 3 days before it was due to expire on my 80th b'day. It's good for another 6 years at which point I may--or may not--renew it again. Even though I may not be everything I used to be, for today at least, I'm still here and very much still me.

One thing I've vowed to do in 2017 is call out (with civility) salespeople and others who address me as "Dearie", Hon", "Sweetie", etc. It drives me bonkers no matter how hard I try to brush it off. That being the case I think I need to take action although in the greater scheme of things, what I'm called is relatively unimportant. I'm thinking of making up small business-size cards that I can just hand to "offenders" asking them to reconsider how they address older people. If anyone has suggestions, please share.

Great post for all the reasons already stated! Thankyou for your honesty, it's so refreshing!

My mother died at 83, so I've sort of thought for some years that that would be my time to die also. But it seems the closer I get to it, the more I think of all the people I know who outlived their mothers. I wish we all had the power to move ourselves off planet when it felt right or necessary. In this regard we do better by our pets than ourselves.

Elizabeth, for some reason, I don't mind the endearments (here it's "shug") but I hated it when my doc said, " Oh, I know you keep busy!" And a friend always starts her phone call with, "I hope I haven't got you up from your nap!" And calls to remind me of stuff.......all of which I'll need at some point. Oh, somebody recently said, "You're so CUTE," now that set off the gagometer. Oh la.


Great post- really got me thinking.

Still working part-time at 63 and my husband just retired at 66. Both of my parents are still living, 85 for my dad and 82 for my mother. They are slowing down, but still have their minds and get around on their own two feet - no walkers or canes. It is encouraging to me. My grandparents all lived into their 80s and 90s. So I do have heredity on my side.

What bothers me most about getting old is realizing that if I want to do something - travel, learn a new hobby, read all the books I want to read, organize my thousands of photos - I'd better do it now.

I really don't have all the time in the world. Time seems to get the best of me, and I feel that I have wasted my precious time, just sitting around.

Doesn't anyone on this comment list just want out? I would like to have access to pills so that when I'm tired of what is happening I can just exit stage left. I'm not talking about end stage illness, like that covered by Oregon & Washington laws, and which Bishop Desmond Tutu is advocating for right now in South Africa. I talking about "I've had enough, just give me some pills, thank you."

I'm on my way to 76 with a brain that has had six concussions. But there is still a lot that this damaged brain does very well. Because I have wet macular degeneration in one eye and the dry version in both eyes, I applied to live in Lanier Gardens, a mostly independent living community in town. I very much look forward to being able to walk to many places even when I can still see well enough to drive. I intend to help fellow residents who can't drive by taking them on fun and educational outings. I plan to start a memoir group and maybe a chorus (since I play the piano). I now live on three acres and have to drive everywhere cause it's out in the country. I'm tired of all that and the responsibility of taking care of a big house and yard.

My mother died in her 50's taking Thorazine and drinking alcohol. My father, into his 80's but he had diabetes and hypertension. From the neck down, I'm healthy in serious ways. Have arthritis which can be annoying but I exercise a lot to keep it at bay.

If I can be helpful to other people, it's worthwhile being alive. I never feel ignored by people of any age. Even younger people need to be acknowledged so I reach out to others, assuming they will enjoy being noticed and cared about. I wear overalls a lot, getting comments frequently.

Reading these comments has been great way to start my day. I feel very fortunate one month before my 86th. B-day. I've been treated by a DC ( Doctor of Chiropractic ) since I was 21 & met my first husband. Good nutrition and spinal manipulation and exercise was a way of life. I worked into my late 70s and have remained active, but definitely slowing down. My inspiration is my 95 year old husband who is still high functioning. He does rely on a cane and has a walker that he refuses to use, but his mind is still sharp and sence of humor in tact. Life is good and we are great full!!!


An addendum.......Ronni was so straight up about the dreaded loss of energy and incontinence. At 73 I need to budget my energy day to day, and even that doesn't always work, as I might have a night of too many trips to the bathroom and too little sleep. The work in the studio, the trip to the museum is out the window. Another day of maintaining.

"Women and Aging" by Ruth Raymond Thone is a good, in-depth treatise on what we're experiencing. She understands the collective culture's fear of death, and therefore of the old. She's definitely not in the "keep-busy-stay-cheerful" school of old age, which I find an enormous relief, similar to Ronni's realism. Neither, like Ronni, is her writing depressing. There's a lot of beauty and, for me, new spiritual understanding, there's also a lot of sheer physical difficulty and pain. It's a dance. Okay, so much for my post script.

A local comedian said "if you're walking the beach in Florida and you feel something tapping you on the back of your legs, chances are it's your a$$.

Hilarious back then.

Now?

"Come over here and say that, Mister."

My senior friend has been holed up in her ILR for two months. By that, I mean she has only been outside to see to various doctors since she fainted in her apartment.

Martha showed me her prescribed pills.

I freaked out inside and said nothing.

Every week someone is missing at the ILR where I volunteer. A chair is empty. Where is that person? Hospital.

Hair loss? Oh boy.

Hair, I've lost a slew but then again, way slew to mention.

Wait, that sentence doesn't even make sense.

Nobody mentioned the heart pain of taking family to chemo treatments and sitting with them.

Maybe someone mentioned losing friends that pass away like brown fall leaves blowing across a frozen lake.

My mom is in her nineties, going strong, no meds.

Dad died early fifties. Worked like a sled dog.

I like that idea of having a "bump yourself off" pill ready for the time you decide you've had enough.

BUt, what if you forget where you hid it?

What if your cat finds the pill, knocks it on the floor, plays hockey with it, then eats it and dies a horrible, staggering cowboy shot ten times death?

How could you go on after that?

Back to the doctor..."you know that bump off pill you prescribed?"

"I need another one..."

Yes, Cassandra, I feel like you. I want the means to exit stage left at the time of my choosing for any reason. This should be our right as human beings not to be controlled by a certain group. The Netherlands are the closest to this yet.

Thank you Mary! I agree, it should be a human right to exit. I will start donating to Compassion and Choices only when they move on to end stage Alzheimer's (my husband) and voluntary exit.

I find it so comforting to realize you are all me. I am all you. When my husband passed away in our seventies, we used to say, it took two of us, to make one of us, we were referring to the amount of things we could accomplish. Now that he is gone, I find I can accomplish most of what I need to, as long as I space things out. Maybe it takes me three days to do what used to get done in a morning, but I am grateful for the ability to recognize my limits and compensate for them. The real difference in being young and being old is the freedom of not counting the years remaining. When you are 20, 30, 40, when something happens you just think you will get better, start over, try something different etc. Old age puts you in touch consciously with the "expiration date". We try to reassure ourselves with the various ages of dead relatives, health habits, etc. but, in the end the answer is the same, at any age, try and live in the moment, find beauty in your everyday life and do the best you can. and, help someone else \, for as long as you can.

Some where along the line I stopped reading this blog.
Looked it up today and I found myself among everyone.
Now 82, severe crippling arthritis, several bad falls but still moving.
At 78 was still riding the lawn tractor cutting grass, gardening and not slowing down.
It seemed to change over night and has been difficult to accept limitations that seemed
to come about so quickly. I realize now, they were happening and I did not notice.
So now a cane in hand so I do not have another fall, have not liked this cane.
Now thankful for the cane and all I can still do and thankful now starting to accept
limitations.
Could not make it in this country home without my computer (children all over the world)
and still blog almost daily, use my camera and still love to cook but seems I make a big
mess and takes forever to clean up.
Enough shared, just so pleased this blog kept coming to mind, I signed in
and found myself.....

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