“My friend is a wonderful example of this; he’s perpetually youthful in his thoughts, actions and interactions; he truly seems ageless. So many people have accepted that ‘aging’ is inevitable, and go about their lives living out the programs, beliefs and ideals that our parents, families, teachers, society socioeconomic background, etc., instilled in us. Too often, those programs are negative, and virtually ignore the unlimited source energy of our authentic self.” – Aleta St. James (http://www.aletastjames.com/forget-aging-lets-all-be-ageless)smokin at 100

I’m not exactly sure why this struck me at this particular time to say good-bye to the thought of aging.  Maybe it’s because I’m in post-holiday blues and want to find things to feel good about.  Maybe it’s because I just got married and want to live forever with the love of my life.  Or maybe … well maybe just because.   I agree with Ms. St. James and the idea of aging as being portrayed too often as negative and limiting.    How about the idea of having children at age 50 as Ms. St. James has done?  Some feel it is not fair to the child to have such ‘old parents.’  What of child maybe at age 10, introduces her mother and is asked, ‘so that is not your grandmother?’  If raised with insight, love and mindfulness, the child will respond in ways that show there is nothing unusual or strange about having an “older parent.” Will the “older parent” have the stamina and strength to cope with the demands of parenting if faced with inevitable declining health?  That is usually the issue raised.

Another way of saying this may be “what’s age got to do with it?” – to paraphrase a line about love.   And if that is too much for you, than how about toning it down and just “living to the fullest?” Passionately, regardless of age?  Heck, why even place a description on aging at all?  It’s funny that if you Google terms about the refusal to give in to “aging” they are usually written by people in their 40’s or 50’s.  Well folks, I hate to tell you this, but that ain’t aging.  Not in the way those in the field of caring for older patients may define it.  That is more about a midlife crisis.  The need for good health care provided by Geriatricians usually won’t even be considered unless you are 70 or older.  And providing a chronological age to the caring for an “older adult” is more about policy and the need for age-related guidelines and standardization of care.

One reason we are compelled to say something about how we grow older may be the need to be aware of living well with the time we have left.  I have noticed more of my friends, most in their 50’s and 60’s doing things that they would not have dreamed of doing years ago.  I also notice that I am attending more memorial services for friends who have passed away – many way to young.  So what did “age” mean if their lives were full or not?  If they achieved what they hoped to before their time was done?  It meant nothing except in ways that would define the age of retirement, becoming eligible for an annuity, social security or a discount at the local grocery store or Luby’s.  I was told I can get a 10% discount at Kroger’s since I’m over 55.  Well let me just run over there and get my discount.  Please!!  Before you know it, I’ll be hanging out at the local donut shop complaining about the government!  Oh oh!  I think I’m getting into that old habit of portraying some bad stereotypes of ‘old’ people’.  You see, it can’t be helped.  You start feeling ‘old’ (whatever that is) and then before you know it, you’re old.

Think I need to get my surfboard out and hang some 10 down at Galveston beach.  The waves are looking good! I love seeing the look on the teenagers’ faces!

Our Guest Blogger this week is Tony DiNuzzo, Ph.D., Director, East Texas Geriatric Education Center/Consortium, UTMB.

Join us for a real-time discussion about questions raised by this essay on Tuesday from 12:00 p.m. to 12:45 p.m. See Discussion and SL tabs above for details. Link to the virtual meeting room: http://tinyurl.com/cjfx9ag.