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Page 3 in the conversation "When are You an Older Person?" by Angie
Funny story--my grandmother was 93 and lived in a nursing facility. I asked her one day why she always ate in her room and never went to the dining room. Her response? Hmpf, I am not going to eat with those old people! True story and end of discussion. I still laugh about it! Age, youth or maturity--is all relative--always hang out with older folks and you will always be the youngster!
My mom is 94 and refers to my husband and me, as "youngsters" (I am 67 and my husband 70). She has always "kept herself up," as the saying goes. She worked (CPA and office manager) until she was 76. Her biggest worry is a few age spots on her face and she's constantly after me to find a cream that removes them. She's in assisted care and will not participate in any of the activities that are "stupid and for old people" (I hear ya, Angela). She dresses for each meal and will not wear jogging pants of any kind.
Aging gracefully is an art. Knowing where the boundaries are in fashion takes skill but the classic approach with a fresh eye for color and design helps keep our shoulders back and chin up with a glow in our eyes.
For those of us over 60, posts focused on your clients, Angie, in our age range have been popular and instructive for anyone under 60 as well. We all need to be educated on what aging and beauty mean and what the possibilities are for women over 60 in our culture.
We're all older people. Older than we used to be. Older than our children. Older than some of our friends or co-workers. I was the firstborn, so was always the "older" sibling. "Older" is just a comparative word. I'm older than my husband. Older than my doctor. Older than my financial adviser. But not, thank God, older than dirt.
I never really think about dressing for my age. I used to think about that a lot more often when I was in my 20s and 30s. I wanted to look polished and to be taken seriously, so I tried to dress in ways that projected how I wanted to be perceived. At this point, I know people take me seriously. I dress in whatever I like, and know I look good. One of the blessings of age is becoming comfortable in your own skin.
It's difficult to describe, but I feel older not in myself (I swear, I still feel like 35) but in how strangers approach me. Not that I'm complaining. My experience is positive. People treat me very nicely. But young people no longer take one look at me and consider me a peer. And I have to wonder if at times I'm guilty of something similar in the reverse. Just the other day, I walked away from meeting a local sports figure and I asked my husband, "How old is he? Twelve? Does he even have to shave yet?"
I think that's the dividing line: when young people start looking really, really young!
I don't think "older" is a pejorative and I don't mind being considered older, either. When I am older, that is. It being relative.
Gaylene, I think some of this is semantic. Because of what age used to mean (frailty, ill-health, closed mindset) people tend to associate active lives with youth. So while you're happy to embrace your age, others would probably consider you a "youthful" 65 and call you such, whether you agree with that descriptor or not.
And there is no denying that -- just as one 15 year old is not like another (one might be miles more mature than the other), one 70 year old is not like another. (One might be riding her bike and gardening up a storm or writing her best work yet, while another is ill and infirm and in a nursing home). We tend to ascribe these differences to age, when there may be additional reasons.
Deb, I didn't like bar hopping when I *was* 25, so I guess I've been old for a long time.
It's true that people are living longer, and more healthfully, thanks to medical advances and improvement in quality of life. So the mental image of our grandparents' generation being x years old and infirm isn't the reality for most people anymore, fortunately, which is why we get all this "50 is the new 40," "70 is the new 60" nonsense. But a lot of it is a genetic and statistical crapshoot - will we be the mentally and physically active 80 year-olds, or will we have mental difficulties or problems getting around or be struggling with an incurable chronic disease, or have already passed away due to illness? Family history can make some predictions but honestly anything can happen, and a lot of it isn't under our control. People don't like to think about that, and so they comfort themselves with "oh, I'm taking care of myself, I'm active, I'm still young at heart," not like those *other* people my age who already look and feel old.
Linda makes an interesting point that I agree with - I've started feeling rather middle-aged based on how younger people interact with me. Not teenagers; they've always had a skewed sense of time. But people in their 20s, out of college and working - of which there are tons of around me since I live in Silicon Valley. When they start seeing you not as a peer, but as someone who's from a different generation, it's an adjustment process.
Suz, as usual, has hit on it. Maybe it's time to examine the associations we put with the words "old" and "young". If "old" is only associated with fraility, poor health, nasty disposition, and a closed mind, I'd have hated being called a "mature" fifteen-year-old--something that my parents viewed as a compliment when their friends said it in an approving way. It's the tendancy to associate negative images with the term "older" and positive ones with the term "younger" that bothers me. A nasty disposition and a closed mind can inhabit an 18-year-old body as readily as an 80-year-old one. An active life is an active life, regardless of numerical age.
As others have pointed out, "older" is a totally relative term. Given the demographics of this forum, I AM an "older person" because my age is greater than majority of those on the forum. If I joined a forum that was predominately in their 70s and 80s, I'd willingly label myself a "younger person". My generation is my generation.
Wow- this is an amazingly interesting conversation to wake up to! I am 55 and in my workplace I'm a teacher) I am definitely an older person! I frequently feel a fraud because I feel as if I am still learning my job! I am lucky enough to have two healthy parents in their 80s. They are active and independent, and I feel blessed to be 55 with a mother who texts me at work to tell me she is delivering a meal she has cooked for my family. Most days I am quite happy to be me, whatever my age. Some days- when I wake up feeling a hundred-I'd like to lose a few years!
Not that I wasn't serious in my previous posts... But I'm no doubt an immature (my cell is huge and I listen to the wratchett music) 46-yr-old with a healthy dose of Asian genes - and I'm American, my life has not been one of toil. Last week I discovered my 22-yr-old co-worker thought I was 26.
What do I think about that? I don't think, *Great! Another year of short skater skirts for me!* I think I'm OLD and that's not ok. We are not peers. He can't get too comfortable; I will be treating him seriously. He has to answer to me. He shouldn't forget.
ETA: Back to add... It's your job when you're 'old' to look out for young people. Help them get a job, help them navigate toward solid relationships, etc. I really think when you're 30 it's long past time when you should be thinking this way.
Letting my grey grow out has been enlightening in this regard. The main comment has been "but why would you want to age yourself?". Excuse me, but this is my ACTUAL HAIR. If more people didn't wait so long to stop coloring, maybe the world would realize that grey is not just giving up.
My little nephew made me laugh when he said "you have a lot of grey for a 30 year old!"
Very interesting. I am in the category of persons who sometimes have to stop and think when asked their age. I agree that in our parents and grandparents generations people aged much more rapidly. They didn't have the benefits of good nutrition, health care, and knowledge we have today. I look at photos of my grandmothers at the same age I am now and I think how much older they seemed. They worked very hard, went through 2 World Wars and a Depression and took care of their parents and older relatives as well, without home care or nursing home care. I feel so lucky to be living now.
DH and I take Continuing Studies classes at Stanford and several times we've look at each other and have remarked that we feel like the younger generation in this group. Thirst for knowledge has no age limits.
We've got relatives a few years younger than us and DH and I don't like to be around them because they spend so much time moaning and groaning about being old and aches and pains. They look older than we do (not enough sunscreen will do that) and their attitude is "we're basically done." So there is some truth to saying that age is relative and you are as young as you feel.
I do think about my age when I go shopping, because as I wrote on another post, my self-image that I have in my brain is my body at age 40. I've tried on many an outfit that made me wonder what I was thinking. And to be sure, I've had SAs encourage me to try dresses and such that are way too girlish for me. The thing is, I wouldn't have worn that kind of dress at 40 or even 25. I can no longer drop 5 or more pounds by not eating chocolate donuts for a couple of weeks.
You will notice that I haven't mentioned my own age in this post. II will say this, my 55th high school reunion is this month.
Relative, and as Joy mentioned relatives play a part in how I feel.After losing my parents and in-law parents by my early 50s I've felt like, well, "I'm next" which makes a person feel old. But after a family reunion with 2nd-Aunts and Uncles who are in their late 80s and early 90s (going on 60!) I didn't feel so old.
Ms.Maven, your comment about "moaning and groaning" reminded me of another of the rules Gentleman Friend and I have adopted: "Don't make noises when getting into or out of your chair!"
My very elderly Dad passed in March of 2013 and my mom in September of 2014, and then I turned 60 the following December. At about the same time, my kids other set of grandparents also passed. That generation, that "older" generation, was completely gone within a couple of years! And suddenly I felt like an "older person".
We ARE now the "elders" of the family. So "older" not in a negative way, but rather the people with a bit more mileage than others. And a bit more weathered as well. But more mileage and weathering means nothing in terms of being vital and interested in life.
I think that why our grandparents looked so much older...actually its really just kind of stodgy and uncomfortable though, isn't it?... in photos from the 40's and 50's was not so much health (mine lived very LONG healthy lives) as it was just a style at the time: the old matronly dresses and those black shoes!...and the hairstyles and unrimmed glasses...and girdles, for gosh sakes!
And it's worth wondering why is being younger considered better? There is nothing bad about being "older", not really. Culturally we are sold that we should look young and fit forever. Why? Mostly, it's to sell products and services, isn't it? Or some idealized version of a perfect life? Basically the love of youth is an Ad campaign. But it's also one we don't have to buy!
For years I had trouble seeing myself as "middle-aged," and now I have trouble seeing myself as "older." On the other hand, I have no trouble applying those labels (in my head at least) to other people. When I read this thread it seems to me that a lot of us share this perspective. Middle-aged and old are qualities that other people have, not us. (That's how it's always been for each of us, right? So why should it ever change?)
But labels aside, here's how I look at this particular point in my life, including my age, 56. For one thing, the older generation in my family is pretty much gone. I'm close to one elderly maternal aunt (elderly? how can Aunt Doris be elderly? just because she's 84?), and out of my late father's six siblings only two are left. If my cousins and I and my half-sisters and I are going to stay in touch, it's up to us now. I definitely feel that, the sense that my elders are gone or going.
But the other thing is that just this year I've outlived my mother, who died of cancer while she was 55. Perhaps I had to tell myself hers was a full life, because it hurt too much to see it any other way, but in any case I look at my life now as lagniappe. Truly, lagniappe. From here on out, it's all a lovely extra. I don't know if I'll be able to hold onto this attitude when health concerns and physical limitations hit, but right now that's how I see it. Every good bit (and there are lots of good bits right now) is a treat.
I used to work in marketing and young was always the 28-34 demo. Browsing on line recently I was looking at a modern ad agency (forgot name) focused on digital influence, as opposed to traditional print and broadcast media. Their young demo was defined as 18-44. So I do believe that as we live longer, our period of youth/middle age etc. is shifted.
My own definition: 13-24 is Teen/Youth. not having a fully formed brain yet, which happens at age 25 (source: NPR's Science Friday).25-44: Young adult, with adult brain.45-64: Middle age.65 plus: Old age. As defined by the government, so, when we get Medicare. Social Security defines my old age as 67-1/2 (they've caught on that we're living longer).
I actually still thought of my own Mother as being middle aged until she was around 75. Middle aged is fully functioning mentally and physically strong. I do think that there are those who are not, physically or mentally, really old, until they are 80. Maybe even older. But there are plenty of people who are in decline by the age of 65. An acquiantance of mine is a few years older than I am, but having worked construction and in gas (propane), he has many more health problems. Also, his wife is in worse health than I am -- missing teeth, back problems -- enough problems to collect a disability check. No one has mentioned this in this thread, but socio-economic factors do play into how we age.
As for myself, I am interested in staying in good health and being strong. When I was in my 40s (I'm currently 57), I tried to hold on to youth a couple years longer by doing things like botox. Now I hold no illusions of passing as a younger person than I am. But, I want to be strong and healthy and my aesthetic aim is to be stylish (not necessarily to look younger). So that means I have wrinkles and sun damage and people correctly guess my age. (The wrinkles are also connected to having lower BMI. So there's a tradeoff.) Of course if I routinely passed for younger I would probably love it too. Since I don't, I've simply learned to embrace myself at my age in my current condition.
Thanks Angie for starting this amazing conversation.
I think you know your young when you are happy that people mistake your age for being older. I know a wonderful 17 year old. She was thrilled when a teacher said she looked 25 years old when dressed up for her school formal. I know I would be less than impressed if someone mistook my age for 8 years older...not that I'm old or anything....
Sometimes I feel older, sometimes younger, depending on what I am doing and who I am with.My parents are still alive and active; I think that helps me feel younger. When I swim, I feel young and happy. When I am successful at doing something new I feel young. When my sons sigh while teaching me something having to do with technology, I feel old. Still contemplating whether to color my hair again as I know people treat me older than I am as soon as they see the gray.
I am sure most people would see me as a older person. I have a full head of gray hair (which I love ).
We all have young and old in us. My fifteen year old is often more wise than myself. My body has been affected by awful awful gravity for 56 years now- but I still feel lucky.
The question puzzled me as I really don't know who or what an older person is ? I have never really thought in those terms. Personally, I have never been told I look young or old. Not sure....
As for fashion, I relate more to body type than age. I see certain body types and know quickly... looks good on them but would not be so good on me, or Hey ! that would work.
(As far as Queen E... I don't think she dresses well and I do not try to emulate. However my 78 year old mother is thrilled thrilled thrilled to be told that she reminds them of her- ) We are all so different !
Angie, thank you for starting this wonderful, thoughtful thread here and I loved reading so many of the shared comments.
It really does seem like a mindset to me, as Deborah suggested. I "feel" younger than my biological age and my inner framework drives me to live socially, emotionally and mentally in an "ageless" way, without a number or label. I join Cocolion in her thoughts that society reminds us of the fact of our age and our oldness in many ways. For example, I wanted to try a new physician I heard was kind and caring and when I called, I was rebuffed by the telephone screener/gatekeeper, because I was one year too old and they don't take Medicare patients. Ah! This is my reality, no matter how I feel or how little of a burden I would have been to their practice.
So, I go back to seeing life with optimism and hope and I naturally surround myself, and am drawn to, people of all ages and persuasions. I know this curious nature of mine keeps me young. Age, in my world doesn't matter; connections do. Yes, there will be days when we feel "old" and then we find our way again as we enjoy all life has to offer with childlike wonder and eyes wide open.
I've been mulling this question over for the last few days, and my thoughts are that it is, for me, a state of mind or attitude.
The moment that you are simply killing time, have withdrawn from active involvement of any type - you are old. Conversely, as long as you actively engaged with 'life', find daily pleasure (and perhaps even passion) then you are young.
I've searched for 'definition old' on Google and the first search result was 'not young'. Ha! I truly believe that there is nobody fulfilling this definition. I think we are always more than just entirely young or old. I am almost 50 now and I am alternating old, young, wise, stupid, having found some answers, being full of wonder-lust and a few more things. Sometimes at the same time. It would be wonderful if I could say the same with 90. The second definition was 'belonging to the past' - and if this is old, I have met a few people who are completely, totally, ancient, stone age old - but probably only in my eyes, I don't think they would say that about themselves
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