Some people – well, many people – see old age as nothing more than decline and that's not entirely false. Our bodies slow down, we become more susceptible to the “diseases of age” and we soon learn we are invisible to younger generations.
What they don't know yet is that there are compensations. According to some research, old age is the happiest time our lives. We also stop worrying about wrinkes and sags, we don't care as much what other people think of us and due to certain changes in our brains, we actually become a bit more wise.
Even so, there are changes that come, usually by personal choice, that are directly related to growing old. Here are some of the things I now do differently at age 74:
• I don't drive on highways and I don't drive after sunset. The latter is lifelong – I couldn't see well at night even when I was a kid. But highways now make me tense so I take the long way around and usually it's a lot more interesting.
• I renew memberships and magazine subscriptions for only one year. Yes, it's a few dollars more expensive than two or three years but why spend the money when I might not live that long. If you subscribe to as many as I do, the savings is substantial and I can use it elsewhere.
• I haven't bought a dozen eggs in years. It's not about cholesterol and anyway, the “experts” are saying recently that we can eat eggs again. But I live alone, use them mostly hard-boiled in salads now and then and even with only half a box, some go bad before I get to them.
• I don't finish any book (or movie) that bores me. How is it that for most of my life I felt obligated to read to the bitter end just because I had begun? I'm over that now.
• It still breaks my heart but I don't wear high-heeled shoes anymore. There was a time when I couldn't stop buying them. I had more than a hundred pairs and worried that when I died, they'd compare me to Imelda Marcos.
Then one day they hurt my feet enough to make me cry and I couldn't recall if they had always hurt that much and I'd finally had enough, or if they just started hurting that day.
(Speaking of shoes, earlier this week Senior Planet included my shoe fetish in a story about Flaunting Age. I particularly like the idea of pimping out hearing aids.)
• I stopped eating red meat a decade ago because it began causing stomach aches and the upside is that it is much easier to keep my weight in check. Once or twice a year I crave a really good hamburger and I figure eating one that infrequently won't hurt me (or the environment) much.
• I no longer pay attention to dressing fashionably – only what fits well and is appropriate to the occasion. And no more cleavage, not that I ever had much.
• Unless it is extremely important and someone else is paying, I have decided to top using airplanes. They are expensive, unpleasant, uncomfortable and an overall miserable experience.
And finally, I have given up pursuing happiness. I don't even read the ubiquitous “research” studies about happiness anymore because no one – not the researchers nor the respondents – know what they mean by the word. I'm doing fine, enjoying my old age so far and that's good enough for me.
Now it's your turn. What do you do differently now that you attribute to growing older?