“When I’m 64”

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We all remember the Beatles song lyrics “will you still need me, will you still feed me when I’m 64?”

Well, having just passed that milestone in my life, I am remembering what I thought about being 64 years old, viewed through youth’s prism. It sounded really far away. It definitely sounded “old”.

Now that I’m here, it doesn’t sound old at all, of course.

When is it that we become “old”?
Is it when we give up trying new things? When we lose our interest in anything different from what we are used to seeing or doing? Is it when our bodies rebel and refuse to do what we want them to do?

I am not sure I know what it is, exactly, to feel “old”. I look at my kids in their 20’s and they look very young indeed. Compared with them, I’m already old. But then, I’m a specialist in the aging field and I know what happens if we just allow ourselves to slide into aging with no effort to maintain what we have both physically and mentally. Compared with a lot of other people my age, I’m rather young.

I’ve settled on the self-descriptor “middle aged”. Sounds a lot better, don’t you think?

I yield to the reality that age does affect me and that in many ways I have to be more careful. If the stairs are very steep and I’m carrying something, I go one step at a time. I hold onto the rail, too. Falls are the scourge of aging in so many ways. On the other hand, I started the day on my birthday with a 3 mile run. No pain, no impairment of my movements. I’m signing up for the second year of triathlon training with a coach. I began my venture into the three-sport events last year. I do the shortest kind they have, and it’s fine. There aren’t too many of us in the 60+ age group doing these events. They must be too old.

I have to have my reading glasses to see the printed word. I have trouble learning the latest technology. I don’t know why kids punch holes in their faces and put rings and assorted other metal into them. I don’t like tattoos. Maybe those opinions make me old.

No matter what my level of fitness, there are things that sag and bag on my body. I wouldn’t look terrific in a bikini even if I had the nerve to wear one. It’s not about being skinny enough. It’s that bikinis are not for old people.

On the other hand, I take no medications, I work hard at eating a very healthy diet and avoiding excess. My weight is healthy. There’s a brand of jeans that say they’re not your daughter’s. I am in fact wearing a pair of castoff jeans that did belong to my daughter once. They fit just fine. I shop in the juniors’ department. Usually you can’t do that if you’re “old”.

Turning 64 has its benefits. In a year, my health insurance will be Medicare and it will cost a lot less than I’m now paying. After all, if you’re over 60, you’re supposed to be taking several medications and have conditions that justify the insurer charging an arm and a leg for the monthly premiums. I don’t fit the mold, and I pay senior’s premium prices because I’m forced to do so. They don’t care if my lab work is all normal and go to the doctor but once a year. People my age are a risk. (Please keep Medicare so I can get it. I’ve waited a long time.)

Another benefit of being this age is that I don’t care about a lot of things that used to bother me. At one time I would’t go out without wearing high heels. I’m 5 foot one inch and I cared a lot about looking taller. Now that I’m “old”, I don’t give a damn. Flat shoes feel just fine. OK, a little heel, maybe. There are lots of things like that. I’ve let them go, shedding them with the confidence that being on this earth for 64 years has brought. I’m short. I have crow’s feet. I don’t look like a young person. I’m dealing with it.

So, for those who may share my middle aged status, no matter where on the spectrum you find yourself, celebrate it. We’re lots smarter than we used to be. We can continue to grow healthier if we’re willing to work at it more. We have been around the block and there is no substitute for living and learning from all of our mistakes. If it’s mind over matter, I say, think young. And love the age you are.

Till we meet again,

Carolyn Rosenblatt
AgingParents.com

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