People tell me I’m too concerned with age, and perhaps that’s true, but I don’t necessarily see such concern as a bad thing. It keeps me focused on what I can do now to protect myself later. For example, I do balance exercises, stretching, walking, knee exercises to strengthen my knees, and various other activities. There might come a time when I can’t do these things anymore, and so I do them now when I can, and when it counts. Exercise always counts, of course, but it’s a lot easier to maintain one’s muscles than to redevelop them after they have atrophied.
I am also cognizant of where I am and where I place my feet. I hear over and over again (and I see the proof in people I have known) that if you want to live to a vital old age, don’t fall. In fact, the last advice the orthopedic surgeon gave me during my final appointment after he’d done what he could to fix the wrist, arm, and elbow I’d destroyed in a fall, was, “Don’t fall.”
I have fallen since then, though luckily, I didn’t even bruise myself any of those times. I am aware, however, that such luck might not always hold. After all, it deserted me back when I took that horrible fall after a dance performance. (I was heading back to my car and when I walked between two cars, the motion-activated parking lot lights went off, and in the darkness, I tripped over a misplaced parking berm. Actually, the berm wasn’t misplaced. The idiots who maintained the parking lot repainted the lines for the parking spaces so that cars were parked in the open spaces between two berms.) Come to think of it, I was lucky back then, too. With all the damage, I could have lost the arm, but I didn’t, and I even managed to gain normal usage
I come by my wariness of falling through experience rather than advancing years, but I am still aware of how necessarily it is for a healthy old age to refrain at all possible from falling. Surprisingly, this awareness of a need for not falling doesn’t set me up for a fall, though you’d think it would. Like if you’re trying not to think of a pink elephant, that’s all you can think of. (I bet you thought of a pink elephant, didn’t you?) Because of this, I use my hiking poles, even though at times it makes me feel old, as if I were so feeble, I needed two canes. But better to use them when I can rather than when I have to.
To be honest, I don’t think I’d be so concerned with age if I weren’t a caregiver. When one is young, you never equate yourself with the elderly. You simply know that in the division of life, you are young, and they are old. But now that I am getting older, I see myself in these nonagenarians, and I wonder what I will be like at that age (assuming I live that old. Both my mother and her mother died in their middle eighties). Some problems are inevitable, but are all of them? I don’t know. But the question arises every day, and so I do what I can to hold back the growing tsunami of my years.
All things considered, I am doing well for my age. Doing well for a younger age, actually. A lot of that “doing well” is because of my concern with growing older, because despite what people might think, I don’t sit and stew. I do.
Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.