I’m 75 years old today! It’s a milestone birthday.
Last week, my sister-in-law sent a large box containing several albums of pictures of my family. I looked at many photos of my mother taken in her 70s and 80s. She smiled in almost every photo. What’s more, she looked radiant, vibrant, and engaged with life. I was in many of the photos, smiling back at her and having fun.
Thinking back to the times when the pictures were taken reminded me that I never thought of her as getting old. I don’t know if she considered herself an old lady as she modelled living life to its fullest. She spoke of ageing only in terms of losing close relatives and friends as so many died before her.
Am I an ‘old’ lady?
Some may regard me as an ‘old’ lady. I spend my time doing things that characterize older women in our culture. I read extensively. Until the pandemic hit, I belonged to three book clubs. I knit. Until the pandemic hit, I went to a regular knitting meetup group; now, I knit while watching the news on TV or watching Netflix. I play bridge. Until the pandemic, I belonged to two bridge groups; now I play online although it’s not the same as a ‘real’ game.
The mirror reminds me of the passage of time. My level of energy is diminished although I’m not ready to admit that I’m declining! I sport reading glasses and wear them low on my nose which provides the opportunity for a negative glare to others when it’s deserved!
There are many ways in which I don’t think of myself as an ‘old’ lady. Over the years I’ve maintained a routine of regular exercise including aquafit, swimming, yoga, strength training, and walking. My exercise routine, coupled with a healthy diet, has helped me to maintain a healthy weight and kept my body in trim shape.
I try not to think like an old person — whatever that means. I check my attitudes for rigidity; try not to talk about the good old days. I try to stay abreast of current events and current culture. I try to stay open to new experiences.
I also write this blog. Writing is not usually perceived as a hobby for older women. Communicating through written output keeps my brain active and forces cognitive output. Although I’m not adept at technology, using my computer to write and publish a blog requires some capacity to keep up with digital media trends.
Am I Treated Differently?
Although I don’t expect it, people treat me differently. Negative age stereotyping exists — especially for older women. Most of society has a dismal view of ageing.
My friends tell me that after age 75, car rental companies make it more difficult to rent a car as some car rental companies have age restrictions on rentals beginning at age 70.
I worry about health stereotyping and whether I am treated differently by doctors and other health professionals. Are recommendations based on age categorization? Are treatments withheld after a certain age?
The ageing population in Canada and the US means that fewer people will be working to propel economic growth. Plus, older people usually receive some form of government income support. How will people in the workforce perceive those of us who are retired?
Feeling Like 75?
I don’t feel like 75, but, I’m not sure what 75 should feel like since I’ve never before experienced being 75 years old. The younger age I feel inside is more important than the number of years I’ve lived. I’ve learned to love myself and to love life. Perhaps that’s why I treasure those pictures of my mother exhibiting such joy when she was this age.
This birthday reminds me (again) that time is precious. I’ve lived most of my life. While I hope to have many more years, I know that the ticking clock gets louder with each passing year. Long ago, I resolved to live with no regrets. Of course, I have hopes, fears, and challenges that have become friendly companions over the years.
Thankfully I enjoy a lifestyle that includes a loving husband, freedom from financial worry and general good health.
Because there’s a pandemic there will be no party. We’ll have a family dinner with a celebration cake! Plus, glasses of champagne to toast years well-lived and aspirations for many more years of health and happiness.