At a restaurant lounge last week, three of the four of us women were celebrating our way-up-there birthdays. Same bar we had gone to not so long ago, it seems, in hopes of meeting men. This time, too engaged in each other to think of flirting, our chatter centered on such priorities as arthritis and high blood pressure. Gifts included bags of high-protein chia seeds and copies of Age Doesn’t Matter Unless You’re a Cheese, Wisdom from Our Elders by Kathryn and Ross Petras. One of our cards listed songs for people our age, including Ain’t No Burrito Mild Enough, Let’s Get Physicals and Achy Breaky Hip.
The oldest—and fittest—of our foursome impressed/shamed us with details of her daily workouts and disciplined diet as she picked at her plate. Another amused us with her tale of barely making it alive through a high-intensity barre exercise class. Obviously, we’re far from welcoming our golden years from the comfort of Lazy Boys, yet we concede that activities that took minutes now take hours and that our aging minds and bodies are constant considerations.
Take event planning, for instance. Any event, but particularly those that involve prolonged walking. No. 1, always, is “Where’s the restroom … and how far until the next one?”
We’re discovering that as we gain years we lose inhibitions. Good thing, too, because reminders are everywhere.
As advertisers target Baby Boomers—for the most part the market with the money and demand—we’re bombarded with promotions for such products as Depends, Viagra, Lipitor and Medicare supplements. Topics that once were unmentionable now dominate dinner conversations. Items that I was embarrassed to purchase for my mother a decade or so ago I now toss into my grocery cart without a second thought.
It’s like AARP: The Magazine. On our 50th birthdays, Mom signed us up and paid for our AARP memberships. For years I cringed when that “old people’s” publication showed up in my mailbox. Today I find it trendy and hip (and would seriously love to write for it.) Check out December/January’s cover featuring Kevin Costner. Pretty hot, huh?
A couple I’ve known since high school were visiting me last week when a commercial about women’s catheters came on the television. Acknowledging the intrusion that would have mortified us back then, we laughed about commercials that hit home all too often and criticized others. We agreed that some ads for erectile dysfunction are overly suggestive and, therefore, inappropriate and that some drugs for diseases like COPD have such dangerous risks that no one should take them. The ads got us talking about our changing bodies and precautions we take, particularly to prevent falling. Avid travelers who seek outdoor adventures, they admitted to respecting their limitations—like making sure a handrail is nearby and taking an extra step for balance when leaning over.
Likewise, I am much more careful than I used to be at home, where according to statistics most accidents occur. When my boys were toddlers I thought nothing of teetering on a sofa arm to hang curtains or climbing on a kitchen counter to reach a high shelf. Now I drag a six-foot ladder into my house to change a light bulb.
I will say, though, that falling in love in the 60s and 70s can be quite liberating. With our inhibitions vanished along with our youth, honesty comes easily. Sentences that start with “I no longer can,” “I need to,” “I can’t,” “I have to” and “I use” come naturally. Replies such as “Me, neither,” “Me, too,” “I know,” “It doesn’t matter” and “Good” are common. Acceptance that comes with age truly is a gift.
Writer Pearl S. Buck summed it up quite well in a quotation from Age Doesn’t Matter… : “Perhaps one has to be … old before one learns how to be amused rather than shocked.”