ELDER MUSIC: Tony Bennett
Elder Job Search: What Should Be Versus Reality

How Old is Old?

Almost universally, surveys reveal that people believe old age begins at some time beyond the age they are at the moment. This is particularly so of age deniers but many of the rest of us congratulate ourselves, if only privately, on our youthfulness.

Other surveys ask how old people feel compared to their current age. A common answer is, “I feel 10 years younger than I am.” You can substitute 15 or 20 years which turn up regularly in those polls.

Here's my perennial response that: This makes no sense. It is an unanswerable question because whatever you feel at your current age is how that age feels – at least, for you.

And a lot of how old people feel depends on their health.

Some gerontologists and geriatricians divide old age into three (or four) general age groups. The Wikipedia page on old age (which is a good overview) reports several such definitions including these two:

Young old – 60-69 years
Middle old – 70-79 years
Old old – 80 plus

Young old – 65-74 years
Middle old – 75-84
Old old – 85 plus

There are more such divisions, but you get the idea. Personally, those few years of difference among the categories don't amount to a hill of beans but although ageing is not an exact science, the categories are useful in medicine for identifying life changes that are generally expected if you live long enough.

Still, we age at dramatically different rates. Some people at 60 are in severe decline; others at 90 are robust. But that doesn't make either of them young.

The age at which people are considered old is important socially, commercially, politically and governmentally. Retirement age is set depending on a culture's perception of old age which determines access to social security benefits, health care and allows legislators to set public priorities and spending for elders.

(It has occurred to me that if the age deniers I've met controlled the definition of old age, none of us would have Social Security benefits or Medicare – and that's only halfway a joke.)

Then there are the young young's definition of old. In my reading around the web over many years, I have seen uncounted blog entries by 29-year-olds terrified of their impending 30th birthday when, they say, they will be over the hill, unattractive and unsexy.

That tells you a lot about what young people think of their parents and grandparents. I recall that when I started dating at about age 16, I was appalled – and embarrassed - that my mother, recently divorced from my father, was starting to date too, at age 40. To my teenage self, she was way past the age when a person could fall in love.

My experience with a cancer diagnosis over the past seven or eight months has reinforced how much one's health has to do with accepting old age. My age is 76, 77 in April, and as noted above, that is the age I feel. I've always felt to be whatever age I am at the moment.

But I am more aware now of decline. These days, I plan my activities carefully because I tire more easily than before the surgery last June. One event a day is about all I'm willing to undertake and “event” can mean even a longish telephone conversation with a friend.

A visit to the doctor is usually enough for one day or dinner out with a friend or a shopping trip with more than one stop, etc. Recently, I invited neighbors for dessert with some cheeses and ice wine because I couldn't face cooking a whole dinner. (Yet. Maybe soon.)

A young person with a serious health problem can, in most cases, expect to bounce back to full capacity. Most old people won't. And if you are lucky enough to escape a terrible and/or debilitating diagnosis, gradual decline is your future. That is the difference between old and young.

Lots of people like to say that age is only a number. Oh yeah? I don't mean to be harsh, but you will die and most of us die because we are old. That is the nature of life.

Our job in old age (whatever number you put on it) is to make peace with that inevitable which doesn't mean there are not a lot good things about growing old.

When did you (or will you) accept that you are old?


Comments

I'm 66 as of this past December. For the last two years, arthritis has started to cause me considerable problems -- especially during the winter months. If I'm lucky, during the hot summer days (which I used to hate) the arthritis almost disappears. My paternal grandmother lived to 92, but she had crippling arthritis and worse, by the end, such terribly fragile skin that accidentally bumping against something could cause a wound that would take weeks to heal.

I don't have any major illnesses or other serious health issues, and I know I shouldn't complain, but on the cold mornings when I get out of bed, I FEEL every single year of my age. I do have feet issues -- bunion (not sure surgery is worth it), knee and spinal problems (herniated discs). I tire easily, don't bounce back from physical chores as easily; don't have the energy I used to. I see a potentially slow decline, but already there are things I just can't tolerate well -- like sitting for a long spell in a folding chair or other furniture with no back support. Extended walks, though I can manage shorter walks with my dogs. So arthritis is limiting my life activity now; I know it will certainly progress.

Because of these issues, I do consider myself old (maybe not exactly old-old yet). On the other hand, realizing these limitations are coming hopefully gives me the motivation to prepare -- either for different living circumstances, or assistance in my home. Better by far to accept reality than deny it.

Thanks for a thought-provoking post!


I have always set the beginning of old age at 60 (such a nice, round figure) - and I achieved that age just shy of 20 years ago. In another 10 years, assuming I'm lucky enough to be alive, I'll enter ancienthood. Already, I've outlived my parents and grandparents. BTW: I feel much better now than I did only 7-10 months ago. A little pain can go a long way toward making us feel our ages.

I'll rework a well-worn sentence... I'll know it when I'm there.

(original: re porn - "I know it when I see it" - Justice Stewart)

Right now at 74-75, my limitations like reduced activities, more aches when arising, restricted daily energies, etc., are becoming the norm, and so are my expectations for the physical, and in some ways, the mental adjustment that keeps the spirit or mood in good shape. In short, I expect declines.

My energetic, awake, aware being now spends more time evaluating and making appropriate choices - learning to slow down and stop multitasking as I was used to doing. Giving up skiing or long & difficult hikes which are too much effort now, while my mind is being awakened with new literary discoveries or different hobbies here and there. Spending time thinking and doing those "must-do's" to prepare for the time when I can't.

The mental aspect of aging is replacing the physical in importance and ability, often with a new idea or replacement and that gives me change & choice, which for some reason I've always needed in life.

Oh, I'm old old for sure, and I feel every year of it. At 85, I have outlived several predictions: all my ancestors except my mother died before 85, mostly 82-84; my heart doc told me 5 years ago that I should have died 10 years before that based on statistics for long-term rheumatoid arthritis (61 years now); I have dodged the bullet a few times; I am being kept alive by a pacemaker in my belly; my pain level is enough to kill a horse, but----what am I doing? facilitating a weekly 10-year-old memoir writing group; being part of another writing group; singing in a chorus weekly, singing solos at 3-4 open mics each month; taking pictures and posting daily on FB; making new young friends; and keeping in touch with a large family even though they live far away. I do think it's all the joy I have with these activities that keeps me alive--especially the music. I am indeed blessed, even though OLD! Oops! OLD OLD!

Simone, you and I are singing from the same hymnal, as are most of the members of the Y's Men, our retired men's club in Connecticut. The membership ranges in age from 55-100 years old, with a vastly divergent matrix of ages. The thrust of the group is to stay engaged with life and reach for as much gusto as mind and body will allow. As I recognize that performing with the New York City Ballet is no longer in the cards, I still enjoy playing Drosselmeyer in a local dance school's production of the Nutcracker. It's the joy of staying in the game, sometimes if only mentally, that puts age in perspective. And I look forward to at least one "first time" each day. Hope you do too.

When the government sent my Medicare Card I declared myself officially old.

Ronni you ask: "When did you (or will you) accept that you are old?" . . .

I say: "When my kids unexpectantly drop in and take my checkbook and car keys away!"

I am 61. After a couple of stressful years (mother with advanced Alzheimer's) I asked my doctor if I should be feeling old. She, a very smart kind woman, said in my demographic and health profile I should be fine until around 72. Love that precision;). That at this age she'd expect a decline in endurance, and slower recovery from injury or illness. So, I decided to simply assume she was right. Funny, ever since, the exhaustion I'd become to suffer from has been much better.

I suspect I was was still suffering from the stress of my mother's serial emergencies, and just being told I should be OK alleviated some stress. On the other hands, who knows? Ha! Maybe the yoga is just helping:).

I considered myself old at the age I was eligible for age-related discounts or benefits. So, the first time was at age 55 for the movies, 62 for Social Security, 65 for Medicare. By the time Medicare kicked in, I'd already had 10 years to get used to identifying as old. Sure beats dying young! And I agree that whatever age you are is the age you feel.

I am 69 years old. I am in fairly good health - could stand to lose a few pounds, but overall no other significant health issues (knock on wood).

About six weeks ago I had my annual physical - I like my doctor very much; she is proactive and down to earth. All my labwork was fine - except my thyroid levels indicated I could use a small dose of thyroid medication, which I have started.

At the time of the physical, I was feeling pretty good - had been hiking almost every day, going to my gym most mornings, and was happily surprised to learn I had lost four pounds since my last visit six months ago (I don't own a scale.) Anyway, I was feeling mah-velous.

Fast forward two weeks to Christmas - my daughter and her family, who were with us on the Dec 24, all came down with flu. My daughter actually ended up with pneumonia. Three days later - I started the chills and fever and coughing.

Six days later - on New Years Day - my husband and I left for a long-planned three-week trip to Thailand. I was still not feeling great, but didn't want to cancel this sojourn. Coughing and feeling awful, I sucked it up and traveled for the next three weeks. And coughed and coughed and coughed. And found myself winded on any stairwell I encountered. Got home a week ago - the jet-lag from a 15-hour time zone passage has been horrendous. Just beginning

So - six weeks ago I felt like a very young 69, on top of the world. Today - well, you might add ten years to my age, and that would still not reflect how old I am feeling. Just coming out of the awful haze from the time difference, and have hiked one day and walked another. Even slept through an entire night the night before last. So there is hope. At least I hope so.

But it all just goes to show how this good/bad/young/old state of mind can turn on a dime. I hate that.

I didn't feel "old" until cancer hit me at age 72 (I'll be 75 in April). Getting though that and continuing on the meds afterward aged me about 10 years. I'm generally in good health now, as I was before, but feel 10 years older. Less strength, energy, flexibility. Hair thinning rapidly. The same sort of things most aging people experience gradually, except the drug I'm taking strips every bit of estrogen; it aged me about 10 years in one fell swoop. I too limit myself to one activity a day, whether going out for groceries, doing the laundry or dishes, walking the dog, etc. At first I'd sort of hoped I'd regain my previous vigor when I get off the drug at age 77-78, but I realize now that's very unlikely because, after all, I will be that much older.

I'll know I'm old when I reach for a cane instead of my walking stick.

Aging is catching up with us all. At 77 I feel its creep in my joints and bones as well as in loss of energy that can be revived if I walk on a daily basis.

If I had compared myself to my 98 year old neighbor, last year when she was 97, I would have said her mind and energy age--sharp and ready to go at the drop of a hat--is younger than mine.

Today, after a bout of most likely bronchial-related illness and a kyphoplasty procedure, the pain pills prescribed affected her in a way that is recovering slowly (at least from the hallucinations) but she is losing her edge in the memory area--questioning whether she will be "fit" again and ready to get out with her friends (all younger now) and family for lunch.

The lesson I am learning from her is that if we have any spark of life at however old our age, we make the effort to get back what we have had--and there are somethings we have to accept as gone from or repertoire. Also, those things we have to accept we want to do on our own time. I guess it is that we have become so independent that it isn't is our best interest to continue all the WANTS.

AND, the acceptance I have to learn to act on is that of having others help me
in ways I would prefer to not have to accept.

I am thankful for this opportunity to be of some help in my neighbor's situation of aging. I have not had the experience of a mother or a husband to care for in the most intimate caring situation. This is my substitute and I am trying to be aware of all the clues and cues for my own aging.

Everybody knows that I am old-old. I refer to myself as and Ancient. I now feel every year of my 92 years. When did that begin? I began feeling old after I broke my hip and it has been downhill ever since. Now the list of things I can't do outnumber the things I can do.

It's really amazing how our bodies just begin to fail us one thing at a time. In a way it's preparing us for death. At least that's my take.

Your comment about young people and 30th birthdays reminded me of my own 30th, when I also felt over the hill and left behind. In my case it was because I was single and didn't have even the prospect of a steady guy. I was sure all the "good ones" were taken.

Since then I've had few qualms about "marker" birthdays. At 40 I was newly married; at 50 I'd just earned my Ph.D.; at 60 I'd just taken a dream trip to Australia and New Zealand.

And then came 70, this past November. For some reason that one hit me hard. That, I think, is the moment I decided I was old. I'm not sure why. Objectively, I'm doing well. I don't have any serious illnesses, am not on any prescription drugs. I walk five miles a day, do yoga, get to travel a fair amount, etc. But somehow it hit me: I don't have much time left--and what have I done with my life? I'm a writer--spent my career as a journalist and now write personal essays. Nothing like doing that to bring up the regrets and might-have-beens.

As luck would have it, I spent most of January being sick--first respiratory flu and then stomach flu--and healing has come slowly. As several others have said, poor health has a major effect on mood and perception of age, so that has added to my melancholy mood since my birthday.

I know I'll get through this and be okay with my age and state, but I'm not there yet. It's an interesting question to ponder, and I've found others' thoughts worth contemplating.

Our 4-year-old granddaughter assessed the ages of her grandparents recently. My husband, her grandfather, is 'very old' and I'm 'old'. This assessment was based on the extreme mobility issues of her grandfather (age 82) which necessitates the use of a cane. The assessment of 'old' for me, her grandmother (age 72), was based on my white hair. When asked about her other set of grandparents, her poppy (age 67) was deemed 'older' and her grammy (age 65) was 'a bit old'.
I was interested in how a 4-year-old made these judgments. An ageist. bias starts young!

The trouble with being old is that you never know how old you are going to feel on any particular day. An ache or pain you have on Monday may be gone on Tuesday only to return on Wednesday. It's that uncertainty that makes one feel old.

How old am I? Chronologically I'm 83. There's no getting around that. So, by all measuring sticks, I'm 'old'.

I have some chronic ailments, sure. But those ailments could have struck at any age. I"m just lucky that they didn't get around to me until fairly recently.

Comparing myself to earlier age numbers is like comparing apples and oranges. They are both fruits but they are so very different. For example: I have knowledge now that I didn't have then, I do not have endurance that I had then, but not now.

Basically, I see this question as: Is 'old' good or bad? And it's a question I cannot answer.

but you sure got me to thinking!

I struggled with knowing my life was over half over in my fifties. And my hardest birthday was my 50th. Since then, I’ve taken birthdays in stride for the most part.

My 70th did catch my attention though, and now at 71, I am fully aware that I am well and truly old. I see it in my face, and in the way I move. Diabetes and heart disease run in my family. I take meds for cholesterol and blood pressure. I believe my blood pressure med is extending my life. I also watch my consumption of carbs and sugar.

I visit the gym and I keep my mind active. I love the idea of trying one new thing every day.

But overall, I feel old age is a gift many people never receive. I try to be grateful to be alive, and for the good things in my life. But, as with everyone else, I am aware of the effort it takes to maintain myself. And, I am aware that it will never be easier to do than it is now.

My body tells me I'm old. I can't do half of what I used to. But my mind fights it. I still want to be involved yet when my ideas are shunned because I'm "old" and no longer have anything relevant to offer, then it sinks in. Still, my mind fights it.

I'll be 73 in a couple of months. Three weeks ago I was feeling "fit as a fiddle" as some would say. Life was good.

Well, two weeks ago I got sick with a respiratory illness and I am still trying to recover. I feel very old and have no energy. What a difference a set back makes. The road back will be slow and long, I am afraid. But---If I am lucky and nothing gets in my way I should, knock on wood, be "fit as a fiddle" once again.

In ten years I am not so sure.


It' a really fascinating subject, this whole idea of how we feel about our age and its assets and liabilities.

I tell people that they'll know how I felt about turning 60 if they've ever bathed a cat: the cat fights like hell up to a certain critical point of wetness, when it just shudders and goes limp. THAT'S how I felt about 60. It was just sort of . . . beyond the pale.

At 70 I was just about to have bilateral knee replacements, and I also felt pretty glum about the big birthday, as well. I really couldn't tell myself at 70 that I was still in late middle age.

At 80--I got there last summer--some kind friends threw me a big party, and it was lovely, but did not prevent me from feeling as if I'm now sort of sliding inexorably toward the drain. But--a lot of things factor into these feelings. What we THINK about our age can have serious effects on how well we feel. I had a particularly hard time with the holidays this year, and just last week I bought myself a SAD lamp. To my great surprise, I actually think it's helping quite a bit. I'm typing with it on right now. I leave it on (just to the left of my computer, at about 10 o'clock, at just about eye level--don't look at the lamp) for about an hour every morning. I've started feeling I have more energy, I'm back to practicing the piano regularly, getting out, making plans, etc. So, there's that.

An old (in both senses) friend of mine, now 85 and with dramatically increasing Parkinsons symptoms, said to me when I recently visited him for lunch, "You know, aging doesn't just happen gradually. Things happen." Things happen. I've had several things happen in the last twenty years--the knees, a spinal fusion, the arrival of new pains as my degenerative scoliosis gets worse, a general slowing down--but so far I seem to have been able to accommodate them.

Having some skill or activity that makes me feel useful is a crucial part of making me feel I'm still okay being here. In my case it's the piano--I give an occasional recital--going to my recovery group where I can be helpful to new people, and where I am a person who's been able to stay in recovery for almost half a century, being a good neighbor, etc. For me, the absolute bottom line is feeling useful.

Yeah, at 81 I'm old--but I (still) don't have to like it! I'm keepin' on keepin' on as best I can. To those who said pain makes a difference--you're right. Before my shoulders and back started going south about 2 years ago, age wasn't much of a factor in what I could do. It is now.

It is what it is. . .

At 65 I felt proud to be officially 'old' because I think old age is a very interesting, rewarding and growthful stage of one's life. I spoke out vociferously against ageism (still do) and did a lot of writing about the subject. So I fully accepted the fact that I was now old. But looking back I realize that it was mostly an intellectual acceptance. Because I was so fit, walked several miles a day, led a healthy lifestyle and could still do all the things I had always done, I didn't feel physically old.
It was not until I turned 80 and started to notice the physical decline in my energy and stamina that I started to feel physically old. It was quite a shock. As I approach 82 I think my acceptance is pretty well complete. I hope so anyway! But it took a while to get to that point. It is a fascinating journey, to say the least.

Coincidentally, I was taking a break from writing about my own changing perceptions of "old."

It's probably my genes. Or maybe I'm not smart enough to know when I've already (metaphorically) 'won the game'. Academic classes, volleyball against 40's, 50's, 60's twice a week, managing group projects, home/yard maintenance.
Yipe, I'm almost busier that when I was working. So maybe all the smart people who've written-in earlier are right: Perhaps staying busy, being needed, and being physically active will help us stretch-out this wonderful gift of life. I've not had those dreaded 'health issues', - - yet. I know that I am just lucky.
Mentally, I think I'm 18. But at 82, well, - - I'm just sooo thankful!

I am 75 and enjoying life very much, but I noticed that around 70 I stopped having the ability to recover from physical setbacks quickly. Things really starting deteriorating when I learned I have macular degeneration and that my eyesight will eventually cause me to be functionally blind, if I live that long. The difference from this time a year ago is noticeable, but it's not a linear deterioration. I just finished having cataract surgery and that has perked my eyes up a bit, with each eye being able to compensate for the missing vision in the other eye much better with intra-ocular lenses helping.

And the difference in my physical appearance from 70 to 75 reminds me that it's only going to accelerate from here. It's taking a bit of getting used to, but right now I am much older than either of my parents ever reached, and it feels good to be as healthy as I am. I don't take anything for granted any more, although I still buy green bananas. :-)

Some days, when the weather is good and I can work outdoors and physically accomplish a lot, I feel much younger than my 67 years, but then, the next day I often experience aches that leave me feeling older than I am. I have been very fortunate to have had good health all my life, but a bout of the flu over the holidays took me almost a month to fully recover from. The worst week of that attack was definitely the oldest I have ever felt.

I was thinking of bodies in terms of vehicles recently, when two friends of mine posted Facebook pics of their odometers turning over -- one to 250,000 miles and the other to 400,000! In talking about this with my sister, as she said, when you take good care of your car, protect it from the elements, keep it maintained and replace things as they wear out, there's no telling how long it can last. If only we could do as well with our bodies and minds.

I realized I was old at 68 when my husband was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, and given between 10-20 years of life expectancy, since he has no other major health problems. It has been clear since that moment four years ago, that the rest of my life will be as an aging caretaker to someone who is actually 2 years younger than me (he's about to turn 70) but is more out of it every day, looks and acts like a worn down 80 year old.

Internally I don’t feel old unless I’m having pain issues. My Great Grandmother, Grandmother and Mother all lived well into their 90’s so using that measure I’m not old yet at 77. Most of the time I think old is 10 years I older than I am. However people seem to age differently. Some seem old in their 60’s because their physical health is poor. Realistically I could be one serious fall away from being old.

I feel older. I look older. My energy level has changed and has been changing (declining) with each decade since I turned 40. I have beginning arthritis in my right hip and right foot and my right knee is getting weaker. I am young old according to both Wikipedia charts.

I know people respond to me differently because of their perception of me as old or older.

As I get closer to full SSA retirement age, I feel older and older.

In 9 years, I'll be the same age as Mom when she passed away. In 19 years, I will be the same age as Dad when he passed away. As the end of the road gets closer, I feel older.

There is some time I wish I could have back, like the years of bereavement after my fiance died. But, it doesn't work that way.

I'm turning 55 this year. My husband is in his eighties. there are times he feels/acts younger than I am.

my mother is 82. She looks and acts ten years older.

it all depends - on the mindset, on bodily health, on circumstances. I am guessing two people who are exactly the same age but one of whom is living on a shoestring and eking out every penny and the other has two homes and still buys a new car every year - well - if you asked those two people if they felt "old" you'd probably get very different answers. Youth can't be bought but a feeling of being young(er) is easier to (re0capture if you have teh money to pay for it.

At almost 75, I've definitely accepted myself as old, and am embracing it consciously......unconsciously, things can get ridiculous. Or not, I don't know. I'm walking along the road with my very small dog, and a truck of guys is approaching. I get my tough walk together, like "don't mess with me, guys." This, we all know, is going to have to end some day. I'm using the world "old" more now, and with some authority........I've been able to say it twice just lately, and didn't get the old "you're not old" rubric. Yay. I definitely budget time now, and need rest days. And am thinking about how to kindly tell younger house guests that I need to rest, or that they'll need to amuse themselves for the afternoon because Aunt Salinda is old now. Oh la.

I became 78 just 20 days ago. I wrote about that in my journal. People tell me I look younger or that I'm "youthful," but I tell them I am old. They don't want to hear it and will argue with me. Strange. I began to feel a change in how much I could at age 67 - but, my daughter died then and I think that aged me.

I have driven myself from northern Indiana to southern Texas to leave the snow and ice behind for the last 3 years, and it took me longer to recover this last time. I come here because my brother lives here. I love to come here for the activities that Indiana doesn't have. The Osher Institute for LifeLong Learning is here and I'm taking classes in Tai-Chi and Ukulele (which I absolutely adore). Back to birdwatching here as well -- love how it gets me outdoors.

I'm reading Ursula K. LeGuin's The Wave in the Mind, a collection of essays. She begins her introduction: "I am a man. ... Women are a recent invention." She closes the essay with, "I might just as well start pretending I am an old woman. I am not sure that anybody has invented old women yet; but it might be worth trying."

So next time anyone argues with me about being old, I'm going to tell them they are just pretending I'm not old. Frankly, I'm proud to be old.

Judy

P.S. Ronni: I hope you'll write sometime about the movies and serials about us lovey elders. Like, "Grace and Frankie," "Our Souls At Night," and my fave, "Last Tango in Halifax."

Coming back to this post after spending lunch periods with 4th, 5th, and 6th graders where I volunteer as school chaplain...I wear a badge that has my photo on it while on the school grounds. One of the 6th graders was looking at it and said it must have been taken when I was very young.

I laughed and said it was taken 4 years ago when I was 61. Had I aged that much?

"You're 61?"

"No, I'm 65 now."

"Wow you don't look that old, more like 36."

Silvered-tongued rascal!

There are days when I feel 25; there are days when I feel 95. I'm 72, and I have long been of the opinion that in reference to myself, 'old' is ten (10) years older than I am now. Therefore I will never get 'old.'

I have lots of people tell me that I don't look a day over 60, and I believe that age is a state of mind, not a date on a calendar. In my head, I'm still about 27.

Rodney Dangerfield:

"He's so old he walked past a cemetery, two guys chased him with shovels"

A nice piece on RD in this week's NYT Magazine.

---

I see by my arthritis that I am a senior.

I see by your arthritis that you're a senior too,

We see by our arthritis that we are both seniors,

If you get arthritis you can be a senior too.

----

When I board a bus in Montreal, students bonk heads offering me a seat.

But they don't know me.

They react to the usual stereotype of old.

It should be about capability, not a number.

Some seniors look like apple dolls, move like panthers.

Others have baby faces, can't see their shoes.

Darlene said something that I recognize as a truth. The ailments of aging are preparing us for death.

The more immobilizing, painful s*** that comes along, the more death starts to look a lot better. By the time the Grim Reaper arrives, relief from life's physical troubles might be most welcome.

For me, when I reached mid 70s , the above noted s*** started happening in small and big ways. That's when I admitted to being old. I'm just shy of 82 now, not yet ready to hang it up. But the more my ability to walk for 15 minutes without stopping is repeatedly attacked by the malevolent "beast" that hides in a corner waiting for me to get up to speed after its last visit, the more discouraged I get.

I'm really a reasonably cheerful and optimistic person. I've been hugely blessed and lucky in my life. But this is getting old, in more ways than one. Ah, this too shall pass, I suppose, and I'll be striding the halls of the co-op, riding my bike and feeling great again soon. May it be so.

In my head I've been young -old for very long time but since I hit "the late 80's" time is catching up to me. I'm 92 and have slowed down in many ways. I make a list of things to do in a day and am lucky if I get one of those things done.

I live in a senior community which offers me many opportunities to be active. Dinners with friends, Mah Jongg games, movies and classes are available to me if I feel up to it. I can feel achy but many times "I go" and when I do - I feel better.

Now a funny thing, when I spend time with my family I forget my aches and pains and feel "young again!

How about you?

That last comment was done by me"Millie Garfield"
Oh my, I rally am OLD!

I don't really feel old unless I don't feel good, and that varies from day to day. Have to admit, tho, I feel a lot older than I did a year ago, thanks to the current occupant. I'm nearly 94 but I'm determined to outlive the bastard.

I'm 69 and I'm not sure if I am old yet.

I felt old after one of my sons died last year. It is a life shattering event that changes you forever, namely your perception of life and death. I now think of me as an old woman, strong but old.
I recall quite often that phrase: «How old are you when you dream?» which gives us a real perception of how old we really feel . In my dreams I'm still in my early forties. Wishful...dreaming?!

I am 71 years old:-)

After three weeks (and still not "over it") rendered mostly immobile by the flu, I'm feeling pretty old today at 70. How old I am, for me, will be how much I get back very slowly when this virus departs. Which it must ...

I refer to myself as old and find that it makes some younger friends uncomfortable. I'm probably talking to myself as much as them. I want to observe my own aging with as little flinching as possible.

This may sound naïve but I just turned 70 and I still feel that I am on the uphill side of all this. Or at the very least leveled off. But I definitely do not feel I'm going downhill.

I'm in pretty good health - no chronic health issues. Some minor aches and pains, minor arthritis in my thumbs and enjoy an afternoon nap if I have time but still perking along pretty well.

I do have to remember I can't eat and drink like I'm still 40 and I take more breaks when working around the house so I can keep going longer but overall don't feel old... yet.

I guess I'm one of the lucky ones right now. At least I feel lucky to feel this way.

Oh boy, I really enjoyed these comments. I understand from many of them what I also know about myself that the current days aches and pains contribute in a big way to how old we feel at any given time. On the good days I am up for as much as my overstretched energy will allow and on the bad days think death isn't such a bad thing after all. I am nearly 70 years . The number doesn't matter, young or old if you are suffering greatly you are not able to enjoy life to the fullest.
When I was ten years old a teacher asked the class what each person would like to achieve when they "grew up". One class mate said he wished to become a doctor and find a cure for arthritis which his dear mother suffered from. I guess he didn't manage to do it.
Bless him for his thoughtfulness at a young age.
Thanks Ronni for another great topic.

Loved the post and all these comments - wasn't going to comment because I could relate to so much of what had been said - but Chillin's comment - "the number doesn't matter" really resonated with me - I have made a point of not discussing my age with people - not as a denier but because somehow people attach a "label" to particular numbers - but this year I turn 80 and I intend to have a "dance party" and invite loads of people to celebrate it -almost a 'coming out party'! Assuming - as everyone said - that nothing disastrous happens between now and June!

I usually don't feel old. I'm 69 and graying hair.

I go to China frequently. And you get to feel your age when people unsolicited get up to give you their seat on the bus or subway. Now, I should say I grew up in NYC where standing on the bus and subway was the norm, so I expect to stand. When people give me heir seat, it makes me uncomfortable. But I accept it because that's how things are there.

College professor is a good profession to skip ageism. 10 years ago, Connecticut still had a mandatory retirement age for professors. I'm now in Pennsylvania, 70-years-old and a full-time professor of marketing.

This is my first time here. It is very interesting although I don't know my way around yet. I am 83 and will be 84 in March. I must say I LOVE old age. Many years ago an older woman friend told me "Old age is when the pieces of the puzzle start to fall into place Betty". How right she was.
I live alone. Have been divorced for many years. Have 2 daughters but seldom see them [which is very painful but, sadly, better than the pain I felt when seeing them]. I had a pretty hard life due to a harsh childhood, married when I was 17, disturbed, uneducated and pregnant. I left the marriage when I was 22 and my girls were 2 and 4 years old. I had no real financial or emotional support raising the kids so often worked 2 jobs and sometimes more.
However, at 42 I was working as a bookkeeper for a very old and lovely medium sized catering company which was about to go bankrupt. I was able to buy it, did very well with it and sold it for big $$$$s in 1986 at age 53! Enough $$$$ to retire and live comfortably until I die. I bought and sold 7 homes - mostly for a healthy profit. I travelled, studied art in New York City [I am Canadian], lived in Greece for 8 months, taught art to kids, have built websites and did a lot of volunteer work along the way. I also met many very interesting and vital people and made a few very good friends. I still paint and live in a large apartment with a studio. I have 4 mac devices which take up a good part of my day. I listen and sing along to a lot of Apple music! I think I would be lost without the internet!
I now have COPD [don't smoke folks] which makes me somewhat short of breath but nothing major. My days are full but easy. I have had pneumonia 3 times so keep myself somewhat isolated. I wear hearing aids which aren't as good as my original hearing and sometimes I stutter and stammer instead of spitting my words out like I used to but other than those "handicaps" I feel fine. I wear a fitbit and walk an average of 6000 steps a day [in my apartment - COPD doesn't like a lot of weather]. I do breathing exercises with Donna Wilson on YouTube and go to an COPD exercise class twice a week most weeks and to a life drawing class once a week.
If this is what 83 to 84 feels like it is very much OK by me!😋 If I do get a painful incurable illness I have arranged with my doctor to have Assisted Death which is legal in Canada if you have an incurable disease which COPD is!

I just had my 79th birthday two days ago and now I'm looking at the glass as half empty instead of half full as all I can think about is I have 363 days until my big 80! I have no health issues and take zero medications but my problem is the realization that my window is getting so much smaller. I've always been adventurous and constantly looking for new challenges in life. Now, all of a sudden, I feel a little sad that there probably isn't enough time to finish my bucket list.

After reading all the comments on here, I want to kick myself in the A_ _ for having this silly pity party for myself. I need to get that glass half full again and count my many blessings. I'm building a home in an "over 55" community which will be done in 2 months so I DO have a new adventure to look forward to. I also work two part time jobs to keep me feeling productive.

All in all, I guess finding new challenges and feeling productive are the keys (for me at least) to ride this life out with gusto like there is no tomorrow because tomorrow is a mystery for all of us.

Adapted from my FB post last August:

Since 2001, birthdays have been a mixed blessing. It was on my birthday that I first heard the words: We think you have ovarian cancer. Every birthday since is another notch in my belt.

I was stage III. Out of some three dozen ovarian cancer subtypes, I had the deadliest one. And yet here I am. I have outlived women with better statistics, better attitudes, better reasons for living. (But not better doctors. I had the best.)

I was so sure I would soon die that I planned and purchased a funeral. Now and again I come across a memory of the funeral that never happened. And may never happen, the way I thought it would.

My grandmother was 100 when she died. Her funeral was nothing like it would have been if she'd died when she was 70. Once upon a time, everyone in town knew her, respected her, loved her. But three decades had passed. People had died, and the town had changed. At her funeral we said: Remember this person? She was important. Not just to me, but to you, whether you know it or not.

I am not so important, and never will be. You'd think surviving cancer would make an individual feel like a victorious warrior, but that was not my experience. Mine was more like the submarine captain in the film Das Boot: After the attack, now we wait. Wait for what? For their revenge.

So I wake up and say: I'm alive! I have today, and that's what I have. How can I make this day better, for me and the people who cross my path?

Despite the occasional misgiving, I stay on FB because you all are like family to me. Some of you came to the hospital. Some sent flowers. Some sent bad art for our Bad Art Museum. Many prayed. Thank you all. The world is going to hell, but even so, I am soooooooo happy to be here.

Tomorrow I am 64. I trust I will make it to tomorrow.

(I’m a new subscriber to TGB. Hello all. Glad to have discovered this wonderful blog.)

First let me say how happy I have been today reading your posts about the good news. No cancer! How great is that?

So I dove into a "Time Goes By" reading binge and found myself here reflecting on "when did I acknowledge or know I was old?" I'm 73, and I've known I was old for quite some time. I retired ten years ago when I ran out of paid work. Around that same time I had a heart attack. But these events didn't even give me a clue.

I think 2012, the year I turned 68, was when I actually acknowledged that I had gotten old. Our daughter-in-law was pregnant with our first and only grandchild. We sold our little farm and bought a one story house (no stairs!) near our son and his growing family. We stretched out into our new community and found that the people who were most welcoming were OLD. Like us.

The other night a trumpet player, the leader of a brass ensemble that I'm playing with mentioned that he had to warm up for longer periods before playing, now that he's old. The guy is in his early forties.

I guess it's all relative, but how wonderful for all of us that you have heard the good news that you will indeed continue to get older!!

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