Monday Author: Susanne Skinner
You have had your time to be all of those younger ages.
Now it’s your time to be this age – embrace it.
~ Kirsten Dunst
I woke up one morning to discover my age is a category. When did that become a thing? My date of birth defines me to social security, health care providers and even the movie ticket booth. What happened to just being Susanne Skinner?
Suddenly I am Fifty-Five and Older, Senior and sometimes a Retiree. To some people age really is a number. To me, it is who I am today as well as the journey that brought me here.
I can’t change the day I was born but I can embrace it.
Studies show that as people grow older, they identify less with their actual ages. A significant birthday doesn’t define or end your involvement in life. Today, people remain in the workforce longer and are more proactive in their health and happiness than previous generations.
Years ago, people—especially women—were secretive about their ages. A friend of mine always replies, “A polite person never asks and a lady never tells,” when her grandchildren ask how old she is.
But that was then; today older adults are not afraid to let their age speak for them. We earned the right to be the age we are now.
Physical signs of aging, like gray hair (mine included) does not define age. I currently have streaks of teal, purple and midnight blue in mine because – well, because I can.
Beauty is not a reflection of a person’s face or body. It is testimony to a life well lived. Today’s culture values youth and beauty over age and knowledge. I see age as an asset, to deny it is to deny your life’s experience.
Rolling Stone Keith Richards (still not dead) says, “We age not by holding on to youth, but by letting ourselves grow and embracing whatever youthful parts remain.”
Chronological versus Biological Age
Everyone has two ages: a chronological age (how old the calendar says you are) and a biological age, (the age at which your body functions) compared against average health and fitness points.
Chronological age isn’t how old we really are. It’s an artificial number. Professor David Sinclair, co-director of the Paul F. Glenn Center for the Biology of Aging at Harvard Medical School says, “We age at different biological rates according to our genes, what we eat, how much we exercise and what environmental toxins we are exposed to. Biological age is what determines our health and ultimately our lifespan. Biological age is the number of candles we really should be blowing out.”
When your biological age is lower than your chronological age, you are at a lower risk for multiple health issues, including mortality. Since this data is readily available through physicals and check-ups, lifestyle changes in diet and exercise improve biological age.
Bottom line: live well, live longer.
If you believe aging is a big negative, you will live into that prediction. We have the ability to define and shape who we become as time passes. We can’t prevent growing older, but we can embrace it. All of us have a story to tell.
All of us moved here from somewhere else. We are each other’s new friends and neighbors, figuring out the next phase of our lives. Most of us are retired (I work part time – when I want to). When I say retired, I mean no nine-to-five jobs. Nobody is sitting in a rocking chair.
Volunteering, boating, classes in cooking and art, road trips, and monthly potluck dinners are a few of the activities in any given week. I did not know I could be this busy without a job. I admit I put a lot of thought into what I’d do when I wasn’t working. I have a bucket list and an inquiring mind. I am getting older, but I am not missing anything.
Last month I filled in as a sub for a neighborhood bunco group. There are twelve players in groups of four. We’re all in the same age group and my table was in a full-on discussion about make-up hacks and tips. It was like high school, but cooler, because we can afford it.
Heaven’s Waiting Room
I live in Florida, often referred to as Heaven’s Waiting Room. Many people retire here, so it’s actually true. The climate favors sun, the beaches are beautiful, and there is a lot to do all year round. We all die somewhere, so why not here?
No one wants to encounter the health challenges that come with aging, including the risk of dementia or hospitalization. Easy access to specialized services is insurance against the need for it.
Multi-level managed care is important as we age. I don’t like to think about it, but knowing it’s here brings a certain peace of mind.
If we’re honest most of us are a little afraid of aging and all it implies. Wrinkles, arthritis and insomnia are by products of getting older. We can’t stop time so the best defense is to live life to its full capacity.
- Do what you love
- Try new things
- Look your best each day
- Live mindfully in the present
- Respect your past
- Embrace the time you have left
We will still age and most of us will look our age. But we will be content, connected to others, and remain involved in and contributing to the world around us.
Aging gracefully is a choice. My favorite age is now.