Theories of Aging

Who better to talk about the theories of aging than retirees who have been there and done that? Hopefully, one person has the right words to help you...

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Pondering The Aging Process

by Ricardo

Perhaps it's a quizzical title. But at times, as I age, in particular, the last few years, I have begun to notice that some of the simple things in everyday life that I used to take for granted, have become, well, not a challenge exactly, but something that I have to kind of "ponder."

Popping out of bed in the morning.....not so easy now. Bending down to do some weeding.....not so easy now. Buttoning a shirt with tiny buttons.....not so easy now. Running and jumping with the grandchildren.....not so easy now.

Trying to remember things, names, places, song titles from the past....not so easy now.

Contemplating what the future has in store and the fact that time is such a precious, precious commodity not to be wasted....not so easy now.

Sometimes accepting what has occurred in my past life.....not so easy now.

Napping when I least intend to.....very easy now.

I guess as I begin pondering this aging process....there are in fact some things that do become easier as we age!

Wendy: Ricardo, Just had to highlight the Nap Thing... been there, done that! Grin!

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by Sally P.

The first time I felt "old" was during my one of my first years of teaching Middle School. I knew it would happen, but when a student mentioned how old their mother was, and she was younger than me, I felt...well, old.

I mean, I had already started seeing gray hairs on my head, but that never bothered me. My skin was beginning to wrinkle, but I just thought I needed to start using some lotion.

The numbers though, they don't lie, and by age alone I was beginning to realize that I was getting "old."

I also remember the first time I heard of a sports star being younger than me. I was in my 20's. Never thought much of it. Now, though, I hear of sport reporters talking about athletes being "over-the-hill" who are almost 10 years younger than I am!

People say that age is just a number - and it is. Numbers, however, do not lie. At some point we must all face "our" number and come to an understanding of where we are in the scope of our lives.

Those who accept aging can usually age gracefully, accepting life as it changes. Those who struggle in their minds to stay young, are always struggling.

Aging is not pretty, but the experience it brings is. The stages of aging are not always pretty, but life itself is beautiful...

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My thoughts on Aging!

by Irwin
(Lakeland, FL)

Here it is almost Father’s Day once again and I decided to start my day by attempting to write the 750 words a day I promised myself I would do at the beginning of the year (actually, if memory serves me well – I believe it was one of my 2012 New Year’s Resolutions).

Why doesn’t it become habit and take place every day as just another routine? Because, in this writer’s humble opinion, as we age, for whatever reason, we no longer feel duty bound to follow a routine – a routine similar to those that may have carried us through day after day during our productive years.

If you will note, I said productive years not working years. I had actually, for one brief moment, thought of using working years in lieu of productive years, but that would be a lie.

Just because one retires or turns 65 or some other misnomer given to those of us that are no longer in the “active” workforce, doesn’t mean we have become non-productive. I am sure that each of us (if not ourselves) can think of one person close to us that is very productive and is way past the age other people would consider being non-productive.

I for one continue to teach as well as write sharing my knowledge gained throughout a long career in insurance and actually enjoy the feeling it gives me knowing that I am still contributing and doing good in the world. But each year things get a little bit tougher. It relates to that one word many of us, upon reaching a particular age, dread. Yes, I speak of the word known as “aging!”

Have I noticed any changes since I turned 65? Not so much when I turned 65, but I can say without a doubt, a resounding “yes” since I turned 70.

I don’t quite jump out of bed with the same vim and vigor I used to. In reality, there are many mornings that I actually swing my legs over the edge of the bed and sit for what seems an eternity while in reality is probably only a minute or two, waiting for the rest of my body to wake up as much as my brain seems to be.

But, as many people our age tend to say, we much prefer the process of aging to the alternative. A favorite comment of mine, when asked: How are you doing today?” is to say: “Today is a good day – I woke up on the right side of the grass!” So, my little aches and pains are but minor inconveniences as compared to what others my age might be going through.

So I just think about how I feel, sometimes not as good as yesterday, sometimes much better than I did, say three days ago, and I get on with my business.

What does the aging process really show you, it shows me for instance, just how lucky I am.

Lucky because I am happily married (heading into our 50th year together this year), have raised three children, all of which turned out to be pretty well-adjusted, successful kids, and with the exception of the health issues I endured in 1964, have enjoyed a life free of serious illness.. How many people heading into the celebration of their 72nd year on this planet can say that? So, yeah, I woke up on the right side of the grass this morning and I am ever so thankful for it.

But, let’s talk about aging for a minute. No matter how hard we fight aging and the problems that come with it, it is aging that wins in the end.

We all only have so much time on this planet. Remember the old adage – there are only two things one must do in life, pay taxes and die. The former is done every year (another routine that we would all probably like to forget how to do) but it is the latter that we must truly concern ourselves with.

True, as we age many things happen that seem to be out of our control. Things like gaining that extra two or three pounds when we weren’t looking. Not being able to bend over as quickly or as easily as we were able to, say ten years ago. And one of my personal favorites has to do with sleep. Wouldn’t it be nice to actually be ready to go to bed at 10 p.m. every night, and if, by chance, I actually did get there by 10, be able to stay asleep for more than two or three hours at a stretch. Gone are the long 6-8 hour, uninterrupted evenings of the pure bliss of sleeping.

What does the aging process mean? It means that, like it or not, we are all running out of time.

It is during this phase of our lives that we finally sit up and take notice that there are places we may want to see yet, or possibly want to see again. Places where it would be neat to live, and in my particular case, books I would like to read, people I would love to converse with.

Now, for the most part, many people (myself included) have said or written that – time is growing short – now is the time to do the things that you want to do. In fact, such a statement is, in many cases, an untruth or put another way, unachievable.

In reality, many of us cannot just drop what we are doing, shun our responsibilities to go off and chase our dreams. But, fact of the matter is that – bottom line – we all still only have so much time.

So we cannot run off to see the Great Wall of China or take a cruise around the world. What we can do though, is write our "bucket list" if you will, and then take a moment to sort out those which are actually achievable as compared to those that are cool "wish I could do items" and work towards making the "achievable items" a reality.

That, my friends, is the way to enjoy retirement and overcome the aging process before we simply run out of time!

Simply put, make a list of what you can and want to do yet while here and then work towards making completion of the achievable items a reality.

Thanks for taking the time to read this post.

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The Aging Complex

by Anon.

When we contemplate our society and nation today, we know that in this twenty-first century the emphasis is clearly on youthfulness and our ability to perform, which has created a kind of aging complex.

What a sad commentary.

It seems as though we have a sort of built in self-destruct mechanism because we in America have made a god out of youth. We have men and women struggling desperately to avoid growing old succumbing to the fallacy of remedies that promise to keep us looking and feeling young.

We want to maintain our youthfulness and vitality so that society will accept us and we can accept ourselves. We have made so much ado about age that seemingly, we have become increasingly fearful of the aging process. And yet, it seems strange that this should be the case because the truth of the matter is that all humanity, if we stay on the scene of life, will grow old. We will not be able to perform the way we use to.

The day is coming when all of us will be sitting where millions of others have sat. The day is coming when we will no longer be able to speak for ourselves, care for ourselves, think as fast, see as clearly or hear as keenly as we once did. So the question is not how do we stay young but rather, how do we prepare for the inevitable old age?

Wisdom necessitates that we accept life on its own terms. The peace of mind and spirit afforded many in the aging drama has come because they have accepted life as it is and then worked with it.

It is ridiculous to rebel against the inevitable. Life itself demands change and the idea of change is something we must live with even though few learn to accept it gracefully.

We want to hang on when it is time to let go; time to release the aging complex; time to experience a radical change in outlook; time to make a decision for freedom to grow with our new selves; time to put on a new attitude and dare to think new mature thoughts.

Mature seniors appreciate the consummation of our lives thus far and we wear it proudly. We rejoice in the wisdom and understanding that accompanies age and we know we are rich in blessings.

As Samuel Ullman once said, “You are as young as your faith, as old as your doubt; as young as your self-confidence, as old as your fear; as young as your hope, as old as your despair”.

Until death, we are flexible and adventurous enough to choose life.

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Thoughts on Aging

by Anon.

Aging is an odd thing. Though we're all constantly aging, the feelings associated with youth or with old age often seem to be almost entirely up to subject circumstance.

Some situations make us feel older than we are, others make us feel like we are reliving our more youthful days.

Often, the accumulation of age is associated with a few things that are considered by many to be inevitable: the acquisition of responsibilities, and the loss of carefree innocence and wonder.

Taxing worries and unbearable jobs can often be reminders of our adult responsibilities. Such boring and monotonous tasks will often make us forget about all of the world's more wonderous mysteries, and distract us from that which is fun and beautiful.

During moments where we are allowed to remove ourselves from the many stressors associated with adulthood, we sometimes experience moments where things once again feel fresh, new, and exciting, like seeing the world through the eyes of a child.

Finding a balance between carefree youth and responsibility is important for living a life of fulfillment, substance, and happiness.

It is important to tend to our responsibilities, but it is equally important to prevent ourselves from thinking we have everything all figured out, and spiraling into useless pessimism.

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AGING: Live for Today

by Sandra
(Washington St.)

Aging - is it all in the mind? I don't think so, considering how my body feels differently now that I'm 55 - at least, compared to when I was 25! Although in my heart, I haven't aged.

I still enjoy rock concerts. I love all the activities I loved in my youth - swimming, picnicking, writing, music - although my life has expanded greatly since those days.

I have memories, images, snapshots in time, from each year, each decade of my life. I was there, watching the first man on the moon, take that one giant step. I was there when Kennedy was assassinated. I was there when Nixon resigned, disgraced. I was there when Martin Luther King, Jr., marched in Alabama. History was created during the time I lived, as it continues to create itself even now.

I try to remember my mother, when she was in her mid-fifties... am I different from her? I hope.
To me, she was always old before her time. I swore I would never reach that stage of being old and tired. It's difficult to avoid! But I try not to show it, or feel it constantly.

At least my young adult children feel I am timeless, ageless, never-ending. Sometimes I wonder if now is the time I need to start taking care of myself properly, to ensure I continue through several more decades of life.

But as Jackie Kennedy once said - when diagnosed with fatal cancer - after all she did to take care of herself, all the sacrifices made to keep healthy - in the end, it ends. It doesn't matter. When our time is up, it's up.

So, as the old song goes, my motto is "live for today" - because tomorrow is just that.

Another day that might or might not exist with me. So here's to another day! And hopefully, another decade or two!

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Age: It's not important

by Joe

When do you feel old? When do you feel young? You can measure your years by aches and pains, by the decreasing efficiency of your memory, or by the weight of knowledge that grows. You can look to youth for freshness and vitality, for hope and promise.

You will not find answers there, however. It’s all nonsense.

Someone somewhere decided to apply numbers to people, to count the times that the earth has returned to its place.

It means nothing.

When I was a young child, I was considered very intelligent and serious. I was a little adult. I spoke and wrote with words and style that my teachers couldn’t call into service readily.

Was I young? Was I old?

Now, I don’t take my ability to tie my shoes for granted. I’m not sure that I really understand half the things that go on around me. I make declarations of nonsense for the fun of it, and l like to get down on the floor with the dogs to play with them.

Is this wisdom, the recognition that nobody really has any answers, that taking life seriously is a faulty strategy? Perhaps, or maybe I’m just young and incapable.

We’re all just people living in this moment.

Some of us have experience, and some are fresh and see no limits to possibilities.

Some are young fools and some are old ones.

We are all just drawing on what we’ve been given, trying to make it to the next moment intact. Respect for freshness and experience are important, but when we label one person “young” and “another “old,” we place yet more barriers between ourselves.

Isn’t it better to share what we’re been given, and to help one another through the struggles of this particular moment?

Wendy: Amen.

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Golden Girls

by Jorja
(San Jose, Ca)

I think the funniest thing I heard on the Golden Girls was when blanche said she looked in her rear-view mirror and there was an old lady staring back at true!

I just turned 60 in July and can't believe how hard it's been.

I'm healthy, in a good marriage, OK job, love my sisters, crazy about my kids and grandkids... but still having tons of thoughts of life... what I've missed, what I still want, etc.

I tell my kids to enjoy their youth, beauty, kids etc because life goes by way to quickly. I have a friend who has been diagnosed with cancer so I have nothing to complain about compared what she is going through and try to keep it in perspective... yet, the past keeps coming back flooded with emotions....

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Retired and Aging:
when do I feel old or young?

by Karyl
(Dundas Ontario Canada)

Thank you to those who already commented on this theme. It was helpful so I think I will add mine.

I feel old most of the time since i retired. I feel old because I was always a high energy person and now I have so little energy.

When people ask me (and I wish they would stop) what I do all day, I have no answer because I have a huge to do list and am lucky if I get a few items checked off on it.

I feel old when I don't feel like hiking which I always loved. Same with singing. I have a very lovely garden and it does give me pleasure but it doesn't make me feel young. I really like my house too but it doesn't make me feel young either.

It's this G#!!! depression that makes everything grey. I can't tolerate those antidepressant drugs either so that is not a choice.

The best I can get is when i feel solid. I feel solid at times when I have enough perseverance to meditate for an hour. I feel solid sometimes if i go for a walk in the woods and when I listen to the bird calls and can identify one, or watch the birds and can name some, and when I spend time browsing nursery catalogues for annuals and perennials and small trees and shrubs.

I feel old when I can't figure out my new camera, can't organize my pictures properly on my computer, lose something I just wrote on the computer, can't figure out a new program or how to fix the computer when it is not working right I also feel old when I can't figure out how to work my new Nintendo Brain Age game, or when I forget something or someone's name (which happens often).

I do feel comfort when my little poodle cuddles up to me and when I talk to my daughters. They are very busy and I don't get to talk to them a lot. My son is a comfort too but also a worry at times.

My two little grand daughters do give me joy but certainly do not make me feel any younger! I have yet to feel that age 76 has brought wisdom. I bought the Posit Science Brain Fitness and Insight programs. I did pretty well on Insight but terrible on Brain Fitness - depressing.

All of the Psychological information I have collected in my brain all these years is still there but seems to be of little use in my everyday life.

Wendy: Just a thought, why not have your hormones checked... maybe you are just a bit "off" somewhere and they might have something to help. OR Visit your health store.. see what they have for energy, just to see if you find a bit more and get more active, maybe the depressed thoughts end?

p.s. If I felt old every time I lost a computer file because I didn't put it in the correct folder, or when I goof online... I'd be long gone! I do lots of "goofs" working on this website, I'm not perfect, and I bet you weren't in your 30s either.. it's just part of life!

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Okay, So I Am Aging!

by Gretchen
(Tustin, California)

A couple of weeks ago, when I spent the night with my daughter because her husband was out of town and she had to go to the kids "Back to School" Night.

My granddaughter — who at five is in Kindergarten — and my daughter and I were walking home from their neighborhood school, and I said something like “Careful, sweetheart, watch where you are going!” as a pole suddenly loomed in sight of her while she was looking the other way. She grinned and said she was all right, but I had better be careful too!

After all, what would they do if I fell and hurt myself? Who would pick ME up? (HOW would anyone pick me up is the better question) How would they get me home? I joked that she could push me in a wheelchair and I could show her how to do wheelies.

But I said to myself: Good question! Never thought of it! This is how they see me. And perhaps that is how it really is!

I see myself as still young. And perhaps this is good because I therefore act younger (and fortunately I have the good luck to look younger—a bit younger—than my actual age). But it is not so good when you think this and suddenly you are made aware of how some people see you.

Your grandchildren think you are a relic. Even your children think of you as old — because they are not (and won’t be until after you are dead). And it hits you in the face.

And, there is nothing you can do about it. You can try to delay it, but it’s coming like a fast-moving train and I hear the whistle blowing. It is inevitable.

"Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer" is no longer a funny song. But it is to everybody else, everybody who is under 40.

I had a dream the other night. I was somewhere, surrounded by 20-somethings, and I answered my ringing cell phone — in my dream I knew the person on the other end, who asked me a technical question of some kind. I answered as best I could, but concluded by saying, “However, you might want to check with someone else because I am not certain.”

When I hung up, this young girl called out to me, “You don’t know anything about what you just said on the phone,” and everyone laughed. I replied back, “When you were born you didn’t know anything at all. (Which, as soon as I said it, I knew was a ridiculous statement—but I plowed on.) And anyway, I have had more experience in life than you have.” She shot back, “Lady, THAT doesn’t matter any more!”

The next morning, as I sipped my coffee I reviewed this dream and everything that went on—and I realized she was absolutely right: Just because I am older and have more experience, if I can’t figure out how to plug in my computer, download songs onto some new item of equipment, or any version of the above, I am at a disadvantage.

Because right now, and in the future, this technology is and will be at the root of everything.

To the younger generation, working with this stuff comes naturally to them, and as far as the other stuff goes they can always look up what they don’t know on the Internet like grammar and spelling, and everything else).

The only advantage I have at this time in my life is that I need less to be happy — which, if you think about it, covers a whole lot of life.

Oh, and I can always HIRE someone to do the technology.

Wendy's Two Cents: Thank you Gretchen! Great thoughts... and yes, 4 weeks into my own retirement and I also need a whole lot less to be happy. Retired Life is what you make of it!

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Don't Look In The Mirror
Unless You Are Applying Makeup

by Gretchen
(Tustin, California)

I have had that moment when I did not recognize myself -- I had made the mistake of being in a photo with my daughters and my grandchildren.

"Who in the heck is that old woman?" I thought, and then CRAP it's me! I am 66.

People say I don't look 66, but I don't believe them half the time. The other half of the time I do believe after I have had a good night's sleep and have just done a truly outstanding job of applying makeup (not a lot, because that ages--just some eye shadow and blush).

And I try to OPEN my eyes to eliminate my sagging lids.

Yes, it is depressing--but we have to GET OVER IT.

Down the street from me lives an outstanding woman who just turned 90. She has beautiful gray hair and dresses well, and her makeup is reasonable. She runs a comb through her hair and she is out the door (yes, she is walking!).

She doesn't DWELL on her age -- she is too busy being involved and doing things. Granted, she has been spared some ugly diseases (my dear mother suffered through Parkinson's). Those who have maladies have it harder, that is for certain!

For the rest of us who have been (so far) spared, all I know is we have to enjoy every day of good health -- to hell with the fact that when we look in the mirror or see a photo of ourselves we recoil in horror that we have aged!

Gratitude is part of attitude.

Growing old is definitely not for sissies and we have to maintain our bodies and our minds like crazy--but we are worth it!

Fight every day to be the best you can be.

Wendy's Two Cents: WOW Gretchen, great page! Yes, we try to age our best (and our healthiest) but attitude is 3/4 of the battle! Absolutely!

I did have to laugh when you said you keep your eyes OPEN to prevent sagging lids... grin! I can imagine you looking bug-eyed, trying to look youthful... yes, I'm bad!

Thanks for sharing!

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Reflections in Retirement

by Buzzo

I often times find myself in reflective moods as I ponder,"just how did I all of a sudden get old?" I look in the mirror and wonder who that is looking back at me.

I realize that I have peaked, and that the "best" is probably over.

I often lament over the fact that I could have done more. Been more involved in life, travelled more, given back to society more, what ever. I guess we come to the plate only once and we can either walk, run, or strike out!

I realize that a life is like a grain of sand that washes up on the beach, there one moment and then washed out to sea never to return!

WOW.. Buzzo! That's great.. deep thought there! I absolutely love your last thought.. thank you for posting! Wendy

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