Most people think that getting old (or older) is a gradual process. Maybe it is, physiologically. But in my case I have had no really demonstrable signs of aging, unless you look at my white hair that transitioned from light brown many years ago.
Even now I sleep well, feel strong overall (play tennis, hike etc.), and can (blush) have sex with my wife. (Well, maybe not as regularly as some years before, haha). My wife actually LOOKS younger than me (and IS, by two years) and her hair coloring and styling completely camouflages her somewhat graying follicles.. (Older guys could take a lesson from the wimen..) And, of course, she always dresses fashionably.
FYI, I’m 75.
According to statistics, most men do not live past this milestone. I feel I have taken care of myself most of my life–never smoked, eschewed alcohol, and never worked in a factory and been exposed to toxic chemicals (that I know of) except the smog of Southern California where I grew up (and left, to go to college in Iowa and Oregon).
I certainly do not want to die anytime soon nor rapidly decline as I have so many good things still to live for–travel, grandchildren, the fellowship of my peers etc. But of course no one gets to choose when they are going to leave this mortal coil…(Sometimes I think writing on a subject like this could even become a self fulfilling prophecy but I really don’t believe in those)..
Recently there have been some somewhat age-related things that really “hit” me– out of left field. A diagnosis of bladder cancer. Seriously failing hearing. I couldn’t have anticipated these, nor could or would most people even my age. (Well, maybe the hearing loss.) Bladder cancer strikes one in 27 men, far fewer women. (The “bad things” many men do, above, generally cause it, but I have evidence there may be a more insidious cause–long story/different article.)
I do occasionally resent getting old but resenting isn’t preventing. And there’s only so much you can do anyway. The bladder cancer that experts say is caused by the very things I have avoided most of my life has resulted in several operations to remove tumors the past couple years. And as I have recently learned, the urologic surgery necessary, under anesthesia is very likely to be the cause of my hearing loss. (But anesthesiologists will likely deny it). It took some digging to discover the anesthesia cause. But after several surgeries, I’m quite convinced of it. See https://pubs.asahq.org/
anesthesiology/article/98/1/ 241/40602/Perioperative- Hearing-Impairment.
Over the past three years or so I have been on gurneys in hospitals or medical offices more times than I care to remember.
And I’m frankly not patient being a patient. Is anyone?
So there you have it, old suddenly–but not really feeling it in most respects. I don’t limp around. I fix and make things. I go places without assistance. I play with the dog (or vice versa). I carry on conversations (when I can hear well).
Yet maybe I am in serious denial about my prospects for the future. How can it get better? Should it? Do I need to plan for my ultimate demise? (Yes, my wife and I have a living trust). Should we start to scale back our vacation rental/b&b business that has been so successful?
Will these words help anybody else? I hope so, and more of mine can be found at PBS’s nextavenue.org site and here at Seniors Lifestyle Magazine where there are some hopefully inspiring articles. If I have to stop writing that would really set me back–it’s certainly a passion. I have no signs of dementia…maybe occasional forgetfulness brought on by an occasional lack of clear purpose. (You probably know what I mean.)
While my wife and I aren’t fully retired, if you are old(er) and anticipating that stage in life (or are actually there), you know how important it is to keep busy doing things that energize you. If you don’t, then “getting old–suddenly” will certainly happen, and you’ll feel it even more…
Living life is about motion and challenge and not getting too comfortable with the status quo. (That sounds pretty profound if I do say so myself). Whenever I get up in the morning I do review the things I would like to do (or have to do, even if they aren’t all that desirable). Sitting around in front of the boob tube is certainly not one of them. Even being online is a bit of a useless escape–unless your friends and kin are actively there. Hey, telephones still exist…
My wife and I continue to run a home-based b&b/vacation rental and there’s always work to attend to with that. We have volunteered in the past, as co-presidents of a local dance club, and I as a board member of a homeless outreach organization. We are, pretty much, as busy as we want to be. In fact, we live in a town full of the volunteer spirit.
We may be in a bit of denial that we can keep all this up indefinitely.
So wish us luck. And I wish you luck, too.