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.

5 comments:

  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.

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

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

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  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...

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