Reject “old age” messages, explore new roads

Handsome, regal Rhett Butler Carey, and old dog who learned many new tricks

Handsome, regal Rhett Butler Carey, an old dog who learned many new tricks

You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.
I’m having a senior moment.
He’s ready for the rocking chair.

I recall writing an article for Network Magazine in which I visited belittling expressions about women. Terms like babe, chick, hen (and the more crass references we won’t mention here but all of us know) tend to dismiss women, to undermine their intelligence and capabilities.

In fairness, there are similar terms for men: hunk, bull, ox, mule, and so on.

Many such limiting labels have been placed on aging, as well. Old dog, bats-in-the-belfry, put him out to pasture, these and many more expressions leave lingering impressions on our minds, leading us to believe, as we approach and pass retirement age, that the best of our lives lies behind us.

Is that all there is?  Should we now rock our way to our final day?

Not me.  If aging is so devastating, why do we have a Supreme Court peopled with judges over seventy? The average age for a President to take office is 54.8 years old. The median age is 55. Eight men became President in their 40’s, 24 in their 50’s, and 10 in their 60’s.

There are countless examples of people achieving their best life works–in established or new fields of venture–in their seventies and eighties.

Why, then, do such generalities about fading proliferate?

It reminds me of the “dumb blonde” syndrome. There are many blonde-haired women who are bright and successful, but that’s not entertaining.  How much more fun it is to point at the ditzy one and make jokes.  So, humor at the expense of the aging is one answer.

Another reason may be fear. One witnesses the ravages of age in some–the decline in mobility, continence, health, memory–and releases the anxiety through comedy.

The biggest reason, though, may be one of being informed and aware of the whole picture.

While it’s true that age brings health challenges, it’s also true that quality of life can continue if we:
* keep an open mind
* accept adaptive methods that can neutralize some of life’s challenges
* point to one positive trait of aging for every negative we hear
* acknowledge both physical decline and the increased creativity that comes with age
* focus on an individual who overcomes aging challenges and shines in spite of them

There are others, but I have not yet enjoyed my second cup of coffee.
Maybe you’ll add some for us.  I would enjoy hearing from you.

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2 responses to “Reject “old age” messages, explore new roads

  1. I think it’s strange that I’m the same person I was before retirement a few years ago, yet now I seem to be wearing an invisibility cloak! People who knew me then (I had a fairly visible position in the county) don’t seem to recognize me. Is it because I’m an “old lady”? Beats me…

  2. Hi, Pat,
    This is an interesting observation and an even more interesting question. Do we become invisible as we age? I certainly think so. I recall how invisible I became when my daughters reached their teen years, before they could drive. I went everywhere with them, and found I received much better customer service if I approached the counter with one or both of them, for example.
    On the plus side, I would feel very, very uncomfortable if a male clerk in his thirties tried to hit on me, so from that aspect, I prefer being invisible, LOL.
    On the serious side, I think we do drift into invisibility as we age, and by making eye contact, smiling and finding common interests we can bring ourselves back into focus.
    Do you think more colorful clothes help, as well?

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