The question “How do you spell “old”?” is sort of facetious… we probably all spell it o-l-d or perhaps a-u-l-d, I have a few friends who spell it v-i-e-i-l-l-e, and of course my son-in-law spells it v-i-e-j-a.
The concept of “old” really hit home his morning when I was reading an article about Coronavirus and they wrote of people in their 60s as if they were OLD.
I’m in my 60s and I’ve never thought of myself as OLD. I still classify myself as mid-age because I am somewhere in the middle of my life span. Given the fact that I feel strong and healthy and I have no idea when my termination date will be, I think I’m justified.
These days I think it is increasingly impossible, or implausible, to define someone as old merely because of their age.
They’re in their 80s and 90s
I have friends in their late 80s, even into their 90s who are busy, active, fun, engaged, strong… and despite the number of years they have been collecting their “Old Age” pensions, they are not old. Some of them will die of “old age” and still not be old at heart!
On the other hand, I know “young” people who are grumpy, stuck in their ways, with closed minds – they seem old to me despite their lack of wrinkles. I remember meeting a young woman of 19 several years ago who was aghast at the thought of her getting experiences outside the world she lived in, who recoiled at the suggestion of broader horizons. That seems old at heart to me too.
Habit, not intent?
Like many incidents of Political Incorrectness, I realize the ease of verbalizing age-ist remarks might be habit, not intent, but… like many of us work hard at being more sensitive to others who are not like us, I think I need to be more insistent that age-insensitive comments be thought through.
Back to Coronavirus, I’m with the 84-year-old woman on the news this morning who said ”I’m strong, I’m healthy, I’m going to listen to the medical professionals who tell me to wash my hands and not touch my face – I’ve made it this far and I’m hoping I’ll make it through this as well.” Hard to call that attitude old no matter what we think 84 means.
What’s your experience?
What’s your experience with age, numbers, insensitive comments? Do you think “old” has a numerical definition?
What is your definition of “old”?
Addenda: (thanks, Darla) When it comes to health issues like Corona-virus, perhaps it needs to be clarified that persons with immune-deficiencies such as a person of advancing years or with health issues are at greater risk for infection, not a blanket statement like anyone 60 or older. 🙂
I’m a nurse and I’ve always said those people who get to their 80s and 90s are often the easiest to look after – there’s a reason they have made it to that age: their intrinsic outlook on life is generally positive, and they have good genes. They have an inner strength that I wish I could bottle and share out to the younger people who are dying swans!
I hear you, Christina! Much of my career was spent in residential Complex Care. So many of those elders had amazing constitutions and, yes, optimism about their lot, even in the face of current illness or pain. Their experiences strengthened them incredibly – my only sadness was when they thought they’d had an uneventful life, that no one wanted to hear their story! “dying swans” – love that!
I’m in my mid-60s and had the same reaction when I read (probably the same) article. Wait! 60 is not old! My mom is 93 and still dresses beautifully, makes sure her makeup is ‘just so’ in the morning and spends time on the hairstyle as well. Then she spends an enjoyable day with her friends at the retirement community. Old? In age only. I hope I live as well as her at that age. #MLSTL
Candi, I just came from a friend with dementia, mid-80s, who took a while to coax into dressing nicely for a dinner out with her husband but, even with Alzheimer’s, when she finally decided to, she looked spectacular, had lipstick on perfectly, and was fun and engaging. Our generation will really need to be vocal about redefining “old”! or setting the youngers straight! I’m determined that age will only be a number.
I read about “old women” and “grandmothers” in news articles and then realize they’re not that much older than me – it seems over 60 and the media starts to bring out the “old” label. My mum is in her 70’s and is super social and very engaged and engaging. She gets peeved with the media labelling people over 70 as “elderly” – it makes them sound like doddery old decrepit centarians. I love the “midlife” term because it encompasses a decent age range – and I’ll continue to ignore anyone who tries to label me as “old” – because… Read more »
My mother would never accept “old” either – she merely said she was well past her best-before date! It’ll be interesting to see what public opinion is about “old” when we all are in our 90s! Hopefully we’ll change what people think!
I had that same exact thought when they talked about risk to people who are old- as in 60 and beyond. I do not consider myself old either! I also have friends in their eighties who are active, traveling, and running volunteer organizations. I want to be like them when I am their age. #MLSTL
I am completely in agreement with your last comment, Michele! I tell my older-than-me friends that regularly and assure them they are the very best role models!
I never counted age by number, even from a young age. When my mother turned forty neither of us batted an eye. ~grin~ But beware that bodies do respond differently to infection as our immunity can be lowered in ways we don’t expect. 🙂 Be well, my dear.
Thank you, Darla… you reminded me of a comment I wanted to add about better warnings about things like Corona-virus. I’ll go do an edit right now! Wishing you wellness as well, my friend!