04 September, 2008

Age And Ageism

The morning I turned forty-nine year old, I turned over in my bed and made a decision about how I wanted to go about the arduous task of aging in the Age of Ageism. The decision was to make up a list. It included five steps to help me walk into my fifties with my back straight and my head held high. The steps were:

  • If someone asks my age, I’d say “nearly fifty” instead of forty-nine
  • Find some role models of elders who were aging in a manner I could inspire
  • Start researching issues concerning lifestyle, health, politics, and society for elders
  • Discuss with friends and family what their hopes and fears were concerning age and aging
  • Figure out some adventures I wanted to do over the next few years

It seemed important that I figure our some strategies to support a gradual transition into old age. In the past, I tended to bull headedly rush into new experiences or phases in my life. For example, the transitions into puberty and young adulthood were studies in rash belligerent solitary over-confidence. At forty-nine, I just did not have the heart to repeat such fiascos. If I couldn’t age gracefully, at least I could age wisely. I didn’t quite know what that implied, but I knew I couldn’t do it alone.

Two years later, after recently celebrating fifty-first birthday, I am amazed at how smart that those steps on the list were. It has been two years of inward searching, establishing new friendships, and even partaking of a few adventures.

My role models have become friends. They have shown me the necessity of looking at the physical changes not with dismay, but with a certain amount of detachment. They are living proof that intellectually elders are as sharp as can be; and, most importantly, they have been kind and supportive towards my foibles and me.


  1. Ageing gracefully is the best reward, someone told me. I'm to the point where aging comfortably is my best reward if I do regular maintenance. Like walk....which they won''t let me do. Yes, I tell folks that I'm almost seventy....that solves that problem.

    Happy Birthday.

  2. I've been telling people I'm pushing 50 for a couple of years now. It's more realistic and forward-looking.

  3. Happy belated birthday. I am confident you will age gracefully and beautifully and love the wisdom that comes with it.

  4. Happy very belated birthday.

    The strategies you're describing are almost the same that helped me turning forty.

    I still find it strange that people are so afraid of turning old. Like my mother-in-law who almost couldn't bear turning 70 because that's "really old". And she's in better shape than some people I know in their fifties...