By Sandy Getzky
Few things in life are guaranteed, yet getting older seems to come with some rather predictable frustrations. I’ve assembled the top five ways that getting older can bring us down — and how to get over all that and live life to the fullest. Remember that no matter how drab things get: getting older always beats the alternative.
1. Body Pains
“Sometimes I call my grandson for a joint to help the joint pain”
As we get older we are constantly worried about: “what will go next?” These days it seems like hands go first. Typing becomes slower and more painful. Growing up I was told a stiff handshake was a sign of a strong, assertive individual. Now I meet people and just hope they go for the hug and spare my fragile digits.
Then comes (or goes) the hips — if I had a nickel for every person over 50 who complained about their hips I’d have at least enough to pay for a hip replacement.
And finally, the most standard of body pains: the back. Oh the hours of repositioning and adjusting in hope that you may find that sweet spot of temporary relief. Like the drug addict chasing the feeling of that first high, it is unlikely you’ll ever catch a day free of back pain again.
But lets not get ourselves all depressed over these aches and pains. These vexes mark a life well-lived and a body which has many more miles to go. You’ve earned yourself a massage this weekend, and the few extra bucks it costs to get your groceries delivered using freshdirect.com.
2. Body Looks
“Umm… I don’t think toenails are supposed to look like that”
Old cars show their age. Old houses show their age. Old people show their age. I don’t need to explain this to anybody: as we get older we start collecting new features all over our bodies. New lines, new dots, new bumps, and new colors.
But look, we’re NOT rotting like the rotten apple shown above. We’re just showing some wear and tear. Every aging person in the history of the world has been through the exact same process. And frankly, some signs of aging can be quite endearing, while many others can be beaten back in their tracks.
Lets take nail fungus for example. If you don’t have it, I’d be willing to bet someone you know does. Symptoms include big yellow toenails that look overgrown and disgusting. This incredibly annoying condition actually affects almost 15% of the adult population and is 100% curable (great guide to removing toenail fungus).
So the point is, we need to stop worrying so much about the ways our bodies are changing. You’re not rotting; you’re just aging like every single human has before you. Embrace what you can’t control, and do what you can when you can.
3. Playing “Catch-Up”
“Wait, so now my emails are on a phone and my whitepages are on a face book?”
Technology moves quickly these days. Quicker than ever before. Chatting with my 6 year old niece feels like taking a college-level technology course, and I missed half a semester of material. Now, I’m sure the older cavemen of their day had to deal with the frustrations of misusing portable fire or whatnot – but we have it worse. Last I checked, a camera phone was an awesome new invention. Now, if I’m not “instagraming” with the rear camera on my iPhone 5, I’m “doing it wrong.”
The best advice I have for those who feel they’re constantly playing “catch-up” is to “give-up”. Well, not give-up completely, just don’t try to GET everything. Young and old, we are all working to navigate through this constantly changing landscape of innovations. Most of the great new tools today will be long forgotten next year. Don’t try so hard, and the things that really matter will become obvious in time.
As editor, I have to take one exception to this and encourage seniors to get online and become a bit tech-savvy. Banking is harder to do by check and increasingly demands that you use ATMs and online banking. Even social security checks and IRS refunds are moving online. Your kids and younger friends are online too, so to stay in touch you need be too. You don’t need every gadget, but you may need to invest time in catching up. Maybe your kids can help.
4. Dumb ‘aint Dementia
“My keys, I know I just had my keys”
We forget some things, and we lose other things. It starts to get worse the older we get. It requires us to be more careful about where we place things. Throwing a bunch of junk into a purse or a drawer and keeping track of it is a young man’s game. Stop doing that kind of stuff. Forgetfulness is not dementia. Pick up the slack of your aging mind by get yourself a bit more organized. You’ll thank yourself later, if you remember to.
I heard President Gerald Ford speak one time and remember his comment about getting older and forgetting things. It went something like, “My senior moments are due to a limited brain size that’s already stuffed with so much knowledge that there’s hardly room for more.”
Your career may be ending or over. Relationships may be nearing their final years, weeks, or days. We all signed up for this. We all know good things come to an end. To provide you with advice on how to accept these sometimes-tragic endings is far above my pay grade. But let me say this: life goes on. Things change and end. People end. But our world will keep on spinning, and new lives will keep on starting. All around us is the magic of human existence – starting, stopping, pausing, resuming. It’s a massive world and we each play an invaluable role in it. Our roles made fade away but the fact that we lived them is the important part. Savor your memories, keep making new ones, and do everything you can to age well. After all, getting older sure beats the alternative. That much we know for sure.
Speaking of memories, consider your legacy in this digital world and check out Recalling & Recording Your Life’s Story for those you leave behind.