Several of my friends have asked me to write about growing old gracefully. I’m not sure if I can. At 66 I am no longer ‘cute’. I was never described as beautiful, but always as cute. How can one be over 65 and still be cute? What’s the word that replaces cute? I certainly don’t know. Physical attributes aside, I am so fortunate to be surrounded by a circle of friends, all older than me, who live each day with a sense of joy and a positive attitude. I am also aware that it’s not true for all of the baby boomers as we enter our Medicare years. I think it’s important to explore the differences.
Eric Patterson wrote an interesting article about aging and depression (http://depression.newlifeoutlook.com/aging-and-depression). I was delighted to find this blog. As I was researching this topic I found most of the writings to be condescending and insulting! Patterson suggests that retirement looks idyllic and growing older is an accomplishment. I agree, I never thought I would reach this age. I have survived all the trials and tribulations of life and I have gained some wisdom along the way. For many growing older is not so ideal. Aging brings a host of new challenges, some physical, some social, and some psychological. If these transformations cannot be managed effectively, depression can rear its ugly head. Can you cope with the grey hairs, the memory changes, the loss of hearing, and how fast can you find strategies to deal with these changes? Are you prepared for the loss of identity that often accompanies retiring from your life’s work? Are we ever prepared to face the death of a loved one or close friend? The answers to these questions are extremely personal and you are the only one that can answer them. Here are my strategies: I color my hair every 3 months, fortunately my hearing is great, I wear designer glasses (I think this is a fashion statement), I work part time and volunteer, and I have told all my friends they have to live 5 more years because I’m going to have a blow out 50th wedding anniversary. That maybe a joke but I have finally decided it’s good to have something to look forward to. Aside from these strategies I also take poetry classes and try to keep this body as healthy as I can. I recognize that not everyone is as fortunate as I am. I get to live my life exactly as I want to with the love and support of my family and friends. Nevertheless, each of us have choices about how we respond to the challenges of growing older. Your responses are your power and for now no one can take that away from you.
I will continue writing on this theme in my next blog. If you have questions or comments please let me know! I would love to hear from you.