Growing older gracefully

davissue_zone9January 28, 2004

This isn't exactly a question about retiring, but I assume most of the people involved with this forum are in their late fifties and upward, and they are who I want to ask this question. How does one cope emotionally with the realization that one is now "older"? Both my husband and I are in our early fifties, and it seems our bodies and energy levels have taken a nosedive. Suddenly, everything is sagging, flagging and aching. Our doctor, who is a few years older than us tells us it's normal and welcome to the club. It's so incredibly depressing. This seemed to sneak up on us and hit all at once. I keep telling myself to quit whining, consider the alternative, but it's still hard to accept. Being Boomers, I guess we thought we would go on forever being young and vigorous. How did you cope with the realization that it's all downhill from here? Well, maybe that's putting it a bit harshly, but you know what I mean.

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Well, we are fighting it tooth and nail. I'm 53 and my husband just turned 58. My husband recently learned he had cataracts and early stages of diabetes - while he was getting pre-op blood tests for a knee replacement. When we learned about all this, we began to feel ancient - like it was the beginning of the end, LOL! I've been after that man for years to eat right and exercise.

He had a total knee replacement (he was in constant pain and couldn't walk fast or stand too long) and had one cataract surgery with one to go. His blood sugar is amazingly low - completely controlled via diet and exercise.

Three and one-half months after the knee replacement, he has lost 47 lbs. and walks up to 6 miles a day and climbs a very steep/killer type hill several times a week - up to 4 round trips at a time (with absolutely no pain).

I have put him on a modified Zone diet (lots of good carbs (includes large amounts daily of most vegetables except beets, corn, potatoes, cooked carrots) some fruits every day - berries are especially good), stay away from startches, eat lots of fiber, cut way down on eggs, fat and cholesterol, minimum of meat. We take lots of vitamins also. He looks fabulous - his middle-aged gut is almost completely gone - he looks slim and trim and says he feels better than he has for 10 years.

The other thing we do that I think helps us feel young is we dream about our retirement (2 years and 8 months away)....we are relocating from So. CA to the East Coast - we have so many dreams and plans for traveling, our new home, etc......we are very excited about the next phase in our life - retirement. We acknowledge and laugh at our infirmities - we often say that between the two of us we have a perfect body and one good mind, LOL. Anyway, hope this is of help to you - there is a lot of life left to live after 50!

    Bookmark   January 28, 2004 at 9:09AM
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When do you think that I should start thinking about being "older"?

I found on a Thursday last fall that I was going to be free for the weekend, when I wanted to help my brother and his wife celbrate their 40th wedding anniversary - especially since I married them. And his retirement from farming.

When I went to get medical insurance for travel through the U.S. (any Canadian who travels in the U.S. without med insurance has rocks for brains) there were several questions about pre-existing conditions. When I answered "No" to about 10 of them, the lady looked at me and said that few over 70 who come in there can say "No" to them all. I said that it was something to be very thankful for, as well. Being frugal, I was pleased that 4 days cost me $28. (found out later that next category would have cost $52.).

Left London Ont. late Thur. night, through MI, WI, MN, ND to Saskatchewan, driving down street of Regina Sat. evening in rush hour gave me time to get a few miles out of town in time for the party, Sat. night. Something under 1,600 mi. in 45 hours.

I told him that, having been born in '34, surely he could farm till '04 - but his son isn't interested and he's been cutting back for a time - so he said this is it. He plans to refurbish old tractors - including one we took from this area when we moved there nearly 60 years ago.

Went out again for Christmas - first in many years with my brother - and nephew's wedding in Edmonton a few days later. Son (who doesn't drive) went along - he said to make sure that I didn't go out there in 45 hours again.

On Sunday after New Year, stayed overnight with friends in S. Manitoba, worried about car starting in morning, but it started (after engine turning slowly due to oil thickened by cold) after about 6 seconds. I think that fuel injection helped somewhat. Had to run it a few seconds, stop a few seconds, run a few seconds again, stop a few seconds, a dozen times before oil light went out. Thermometer said -39 degrees that morning.

Just got a couple of pension cheques in the mail today (think I should have them direct deposited) and another by direct deposit next Monday.

Just got cheque from my retirement account middle of Dec.

Managing to live comfortably - if frugally, my choice - without using income from investment.

Doing some driving of seniors and a couple of friends who lack licence, give listening ear to older woman who, when she's depressed, talks suicide, have been preparing tax returns for low-income people for a while, recently found there are no clinics in a whole county about 40 miles north of here, where I used to be clergyperson, so hope to get some set up before next year's tax season.

Now winding down about 20 year personal financial advisor business (advice only - sold no products), but have become sad that so few know much about money management, so am planning to continue my occasional newsletter for a time - single copy free to anyone who asks who can receive it by email.

Hope to visit some colleagues from years ago in west coast area, next summer.

I expect to be 75 on Friday - the good Lord willin'.

We seniors are luckier than similar folk in many countries who don't have the luxury of retirement savings.

I feel that people worldwide are not going to permit us rich North Americans and Europeans to continue wasting the world's resources as we have been while they continue impoverished.

It seems to me that, as life gets tougher for us, we fortunate seniors need to contribute what we can of skill, energy, talent and money to help our communities and the world run more smoothly.

I don't have grandkids, and I'm a bit thankful, as I feel that a generation and a half from now we North Americans are going to be forced to live a much less attractive lifestyle than we've known.

Enjoying life.

Hope you find a variety of ways to do the same.

Good wishes to you and yours,

joyful (most of the time) guy

P.S. Started this in early evening, then friend from investment seminar picked me up, we spent two hours there and another hour with a few at after-meeting in coffee shop.

Canadian MoneySaver, excellent money management magazine carries no ads, doesn't use slick paper, no fancy pictures, asked subscribers what they wanted: one request for subscribers in an area to get together, so this group of about 18 (one of about 40 in Canada) has gathered monthly for several years.

Many interesting viewpoints expressed. Cost? Zero (except gas).


    Bookmark   January 29, 2004 at 12:03AM
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Hey, I'm still waiting to find out what I'll be when I grow up. Never think of "aging". Just know that you are experiencing so many things that weren't available 20, 30, 40 years ago and be grateful that you are around to see, do and learn them. Get age out of your thinking.Twenty years from now you'll be wishing that you were the age that you are today.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2004 at 4:05PM
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My friend told me: "Age is just a number & mine is unlisted"

    Bookmark   February 8, 2004 at 8:58PM
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Ditto to what Minnie said. DH and I are in our early 50's also and I plan to live another 30-40 years. Of course, there are times that we already feel 90, but we keep going. You know I always liken getting old to old cars. LOL If you just let them sit up and not move (even if they just kinda chuggalug down the street), then they won't work anymore at all. We gotta keep on pushing.

Here is a link that might be useful: Christin Cosby Memorial Web Site

    Bookmark   February 9, 2004 at 11:46PM
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Recently a magazine style monthly periodical aimed at folks 50 and up changed their name from, "Today's Seniors" to "Forever Young".

I called them to tease them unmercifully about the folly of their concept: when did they judge that a person graduates from being "young" - at about 110?

Also - it's tough to put an old head on young shoulders.

Some people, after a heart attack, go ramming around as they did before, making the (foolish) judgement that they're not going to let a little thing like that slow them down. Not a wise choice.

Others, in similar circumstance, sit down, crying in their beer, afraid to do anything for fear that it will be the death of them.

Both are wrong.

We need to learn what our limitations are (at all ages) and either find ways to stretch what they appear to be - or live within them.

And not get too fussed about a whole host of things that we can't do.

I know - easier said than done.

Just an old farmer, seminary student, overseas missionary/relief worker helping (a few of) hundreds of thousands of refugees get their lives back in a semblance of order after a horrible war. One of the missionary's tasks is to learn how to make a dime do a dollar's worth of work.

Clergyperson, shipping clerk, salesperson, school and milk truck driver, bartender, securities salesperson, personal financial advisor and retirement consultant. Still continuing effective money management (occasional) newsletter - for a while - as so few know much about it.

When interviewing for a position to help handicapped persons find work (in an area where it was difficult for able-bodied people to find employment), an interviewer said that they'd had a hundred applicants and were interviewing 15 - and that I'd been so many places and done so many things that he wanted to talk to me.

I replied that most of the situations had been interesting, that I'd learned some things - and had a bit of fun, besides.

(still) joyful guy

    Bookmark   February 9, 2004 at 11:53PM
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My body started falling apart early, so I may not associate it so much with age as I would have done otherwise. I am no longer able to work an 8 hour day plus a two hour commute, so I quit and am going to graduate school. I have to go on the cheap for no credit because I can't afford it otherwise, but I am getting the same education and having no problem keeping up with the 22 year olds. Some people think that means I am not growing old gracefully, that I should recognize that I will have fewer years to use my education - but I am having a wonderful time. I am studying Hebrew and I am going to do Greek next so that I can read both the old and new testaments in the original language. I have so much to learn, I can't possibly live long enough to get it all in - that's the good news and the bad news. I guess if my mind was going the way of my body I would be really upset, but for now I thank God that I can still walk upright and can enjoy making life a little more difficult for the youngsters who have to keep up with me mentally.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2004 at 2:07AM
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I think it is mostly good genes and a lot of good attitude. You can't stop it, so don't waste any precious time worrying about it.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2004 at 7:07PM
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At 67,I really don't feel old and I am constantly startled at that older woman staring back at me in the mirror! I have some chronic health problems, but nothing I haven't been able to handle. I still enjoy life and don't spend a lot of time worrying about the wrinkles, the sagging where I never sagged before, and the hair that's beginning to get gray. Life is still good and I enjoy every minute of it!

    Bookmark   March 4, 2004 at 10:14PM
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Jonesy & Mamatoad, I do believe that the two of you have arrived. For me, there was a time of "falling away"....the letting go of concern for so many unnecessary things. The embracing of what I could do. This came about during and after a long period of serious illness which are chronic and very limiting. I didn't choose to have them, and boy do I have my share; speaking of good genes, I came from the polluted end of the gene pool. I have several very debilitating conditions/diseases. I continue to find new ways on doing things and new things to do. Yes, I too am still surprise that there is an old lady looking back at me from the mirror, but I am so happy to see her. Not too long ago I couldn't find my way thru the door. Fortunately for me my DH had taken early retirement and started a new career when we uprooted and relocated due to my Mother's illness. My husband finally talked me into quitting my job, no pension when I was 54 so that we would be free to travel. I count myself fortunate to have seen so much of the world and done so many things of which I had always dreamed. I still travel, even if I need a wheel chair to get to the plane and I still garden. It just takes me much, much longer to do much, much less. The point is we do get to choose what we do with what we have, good or bad. Contentment, peace, happiness, love, joy are a few of the things that cost nothing but most would trade the world for. I don't have health but I have a wonderful, loving family, and a place where I am content and at peace doing the things that I love most.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2004 at 1:50AM
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I know one day I will die and when the time comes I will handle it the same way I have handled every thing in my life. But, I never stop planning what I am going to do tomorrow, next week or next year. My traveling days are over for now, because my husband's memory is failing. I hope I have him with me a very long time, but since I am younger than he is, I will most likely end up a widow, he almost died 2 weeks ago. When/if that time comes I will climb on a plane and spend a few weeks on the Okavango Delta or at Cieba Tops in the Rainforest. I will set aside so much money for travel and go until my body wears out or until the desire to travel is gone. When/if the time comes when I can no longer care for myself I will check my self in retirement center and if possible I will play video games, read and do what I am doing now. I that is impossible I will have my memories.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2004 at 7:42PM
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Old what is that. I am 61 but feel like 41. Older is better.
I am retired now 2 years. I have just this year learned to
ride a Motorcycle and I'm loving every minute of it. DH
retired a year ago . And he has rode a Motorcycle for 40+
years. I had some health problems last year like a mini
stroke and found out I had diabetes which I had to take
insulin for. I now control the diabetes with the way I eat,
no insulin any more. I have lost 30 lbs. And no side affects
of the mini stoke. I feel so good, I am happy and healthy.
I don't see a old woman looking back at me, I have no wrinkles and don't think I ever will as for oily skin. I
have 12 Grandchildren and a Great Grandson on the way. I
love life and everything about it. Just don't ever put me
in a home. I got to much to do and to much to learn.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2004 at 7:17PM
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Good for you Gloria, keeping busy is very important. I don't see myself as old either, but do call my self an old lady sometimes when it is convenient. :o)

    Bookmark   May 6, 2004 at 12:41AM
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Your peonies are beautiful by the way! I think each person copes with this "getting older" business differently. I'm 53 too...but I don't feel like it's the beginning of the end. I have wrinkles, and I don't look like the youngin' that I used to, but I still work and feel like I'm much younger. I do have aches and pains, get much stiffer after working in the yard/garden, take a lot more Motrin, and celebrex....but I try to stay energetic but also get plenty of rest. Alas, I have to work 2 jobs for now, but someday I hope to be able to goof off more.
I do feel it's better than the alternative. I lost a sister when she was 43, and I really regret for her that she didn't GET a chance to become we are going into another phase of life. It's much mellower, yet exciting. I don't worry about things that other people that are younger have fits about. A young coworker was VERY upset that her nephew's name was misprounced at his high school graduation. I thought it was funny! She got mad a me. But at our ages, stuff like that just isn't important.

I think it's a time to get involved with AARP or whatever group suits you. One needs to have activity. Get involved with the Dept. of Aging, see what all they offer. Usually they need volunteers, and it's a great way to meet people. They have senior games and all kinds of stuff. I just went to our SENIOR FOLLIES. I didn't know whether I wanted to go. Was I going as someone who will look at these old people and see what I have to look forward to...or am I on the verge, already there, getting my feet wet? The answer is "a little of both". The follies were sooo funny! Hearing the SONG, "I don't look good naked anymore" put it all in perspective, believe me!

Older folks, such as us, are a LOT YOUNGER than our parents or grandparents were at our ages. There a lot more to do for seniors, even on a budget or with physical limitations. Even if we get old, we can still have a young spirit...I think that is important! Keep your eyes and ears open for unexpected talents and meeting new people and you will never be old in spirit!

June Lynn

    Bookmark   June 2, 2004 at 4:12PM
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I guess I am lucky, I have very few aches and pains, what I have doesn't require any medication. My knees are giving out, but the bone doctor said they would last the rest of my life. He doesn't know it, but my mom is 92, all of my ancestors lived to be near 90 or more...not sure my knees will survive that kind of genes. :o)

BTW I am 67 years old.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2004 at 9:25PM
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Consider the alternative,and getting old with all it's little problems doesn't seem so bad.
I lost my best friend when she was 26 and my favourite sister in law at 44,a week before her first grandchild was born.
So when I think about getting old I thank God that I've been around to enjoy all the things these two wonderfull people missed.

Eliza ann,who mumbles and grumbles to herself about her aches and pains and just keeps on ticking and enjoying life!

    Bookmark   January 9, 2005 at 5:23AM
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I'm firmly convinced its genetics. I am currently working on my PhD, run a part time business from home, work out 3x week lifting free weights (I bench presss 65-70 lbs), and take no medication. I have just been offered a new job. I am a 72 year old woman, and have been told I look 60. I haven't had any nips or tucks, either.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2005 at 2:09PM
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I am kind of proud of the things I have done after I turned "old". My first trip on an airplane was to Botswana when I was 59, the second was Kenya, the 3rd and 4th were to Peru. My room mate on my first trip was 78 years old and she kept on traveling for years after our trip, until she died. I have hot air ballooned over the Masai Mara, been charged by an elephant, went on a walking safari with a Maasai warrior, stayed at Mt Kenya Safari Club, swam in the Amazon River, caught and ate piranha, and walked at the top of the rainforest on the Aceer walkway. It's sure hard being stuck in Kansas now... sighhhhh

    Bookmark   January 13, 2005 at 9:02PM
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