Saturday, November 15, 2008

Getting older

Somehow, I've gotten old.

Although my kids constantly tell me I'm ancient, it didn't really hit me until a couple of days ago.

I didn't have a particularly difficult day, wasn't pulling out gray hair (I like gray hair!), didn't have a geritol moment.

What happened?

My little sister turned 40.

Somehow, that made me a whole lot older than my turning 50 will.
Go figure.

During that day, I saw or heard numerous references to aging, and nearly all of them were negative.

One was a suggestion that a man would no longer be interested in a woman as she got older. And vice versa.
There were several ads portraying elderly people as sick or with limited mobility. Or with dementia. As if these things are inevitable.
A lament about losing hair.
And on and on.

Here's the thing.

If you don't die young, you get old.

Why does this culture have such an anti-age bias?
Whatever happened to cultures who honor their elders, and appreciate the years of experience, and perhaps wisdom, accumulated by those people?

I sure as hell know more now than I did when I was in my twenties.
I'm a better person, too. More committed, more focused. More able to navigate interpersonal difficulties. Kinder. More patient. Better able to discern what is important from what is not.

But yes, I have some gray hair, some aches and pains, and I am reaching the point of being all too aware of my mortality.

One of the interesting things about being an EMT is that I meet a lot of older people. They are often the ones who call for medical assistance, partly because they have more medical issues, but also, often, because they have no one to drive them to the hospital.

So far, in this little town, all of those people have been wonderful folks. I wish I could meet them in a less stressful way, and spend time talking- or mostly, spend time listening. Some of them have lived here forever, I think, and have a wide variety of interesting stories.

This is a largely unappreciated resource.

I'm certain that they have no idea how positively they have affected me, giving me living proof that contrary to popular belief, cultural bias, and common fears, "old age" just might be an okay place to get to some day.


Lori Skoog said... is out of our control...aging. People age in many different ways and at age 65, I have to tell you that it is one of the best times of my life. We have our farm and for the past 28 years I have had the pleasure of taking care of our horses, dogs and cats. I am very active...have had knee surgery, retired 8 years ago (I was a high school art teacher), am extremely involved in the community with public art, as an advocate for the local Senior Center, participate with my therapy dog in a reading program at an elementary school, play bridge, am active in the political scene and am as busy as I want to be (which is VERY). The best thing about my life is being able to be outside as long as I want. It takes me 2-4 hours each day to do the horses, and they have limited us in terms of travel...but, I travel through the people we have met from all over the world...many have been our guests...New Zealand, France, Germany, Sweden, UK, Italy, Denmark and more. Somehow we just connect. Your life is what you make it, and I jam in as much as possible. We have four grandchildren and two amazing daughters. All things are not perfect, but as the world goes, we have the good life. And as for my has been an amazing experience. I have met so many people and learn something everyday.
Hilinda...make the most of everything you will keep you young. I still ride the horses, bike and we love to idea of a good time is having good friends over to dinner.

bernthis said...

I volunteer in an ER here in Los Angeles and I too meet many, many elderly people. I am 43 and sometimes I get scared of having that limited mobility and other issues that come with aging and then I meet these people and I find that the ones who refuse to take it lying down, so to speak, are so happy and let me know that growing older is something that I can look forward to.

MLight said...

I teach a morning, hi/low aerobics class that's about half retirees and half younger. At 47, I'm about in the middle, age-wise.

I love talking to the women in their 70's and 80's about everything they're busy with. One woman doesn't come on Fridays because she's delivering meals for Meals on Wheels. She's 82.

Ginny said...

My mom continued to bat around by car well into her eighties, but voluntarily gave up driving after a minor accident convinced her it was time. Up until then, she went bowling and picked up her non-driving buddies for outings. Afterwards, she stayed home and did crossword puzzles.

I'm also over age 50 and starting to see evidence of things that slowed Mom down in her latter years - touch of arthritis in the hands, maybe? And I need to actually go to the dang gym rather than letting my gym bag gather dust.

I volunteer occasionally at a nearby retirement home. The people I see out in the common area are a mixed bag - the Wii Bowlers seem to have fun, but a lot of people just sit in lounge chairs around the room all day.

Maybe they need a Wii Swordmaster class?

PS my Google ID leads to my mostly-inactive Google photo blog, my main blog is at

GreenJello said...

I've never understood why people spend $$$ on "anti-aging" products.

Ummmm... no matter what you do, you WILL grow older. You WILL get wrinkles. You WILL get grey hair.

And I totally identify with you on the "feeling older" thing... with one kid married off, and two of them graduating this year, it seems strange to be a parent of adult children.

Bob Durtschi said...

Reminds me of Mark Twain on the occasion of his 80th birthday. When a reporter asked him how he felt being 80 years old he replied "When I consider the alternative, not too bad"

Bob Durtschi

Tamara of In the Night Farm said...

An untapped resource, indeed. We are an unwise culture, to dismiss our elders' wisdom because their needs are inconvenient.

Michael Morse said...

It aint so bad, once you get used to it. I have noticed that the people I work with seem a lot younger than they used to, and my patients are getting closer to my age!