- Aging & Longevity
What Turning 60 Means
A Significant Summer
So this is a significant Summer for me. I was born in August 1954, that means this Summer I turn 60. The interesting thing is that when I turned 30, it was no big deal. My sister had a melt down when her turn came but I felt really good about myself and my future at 30. When 40 came, I was too busy to notice. There were some life-altering things happening with my family, my teenagers and my marriage, so grieving over age just didn’t really happen. Also 50 came and went rather peacefully. My husband (28 days older than me) and I were happy to have lived through another year and our marriage was strong, our jobs still relatively secure. However this past decade has held some twists and turns we didn’t see coming at 50. We both found ourselves jobless and started working on self-employment, which sometimes flourishes and sometimes leaves us wanting. We downsized into a smaller place than we had ever imagined we would live in but found we were happier than ever before with the smaller price and utility bill that came with it. This year we have faced the 60’s together. It will be an interesting decade.
Living on borrowed time.
But the most significant thing about this year for me is that my father died at 60. He was so young. Not even retired yet. They found a brain tumor in October the previous year, but it was one of those tumors that even with surgery, always grows back. By December of his 60th year he was gone. I can hardly believe that was 23 years ago. And so I am now the age he was when he passed. It makes me feel from here on, that I am living on borrowed time. That I somehow have something my father was denied. I feel humbled and hurt, dejected and determined. It is a whirl of emotion. I am determined to live purposefully for him. It is as if I am packing into my years ahead, what he could not have; I’m living with and for him. I remember reading recently about the life of Jim Henson who felt he had to live for his brother after his brother died in a car accident at the age of 21. I actually understand the sentiment. I feel that way too. Each sunrise takes on a whole new meaning. I am grateful for each one and count them all as blessings filled with promise.
If you were born in the 50's...
Being born in 1954 means that we are at the tail end of the Baby Boomers (1945-1955).
It means a good number of the Baby Boomers are already retired or soon will be. Becoming a sexagenarian isn’t nearly as encouraging as it sounds.
It means I can laugh, cough, sneeze, fart and pee, all at the same time.
It means I can order off the Denny’s Senior Menu.
It means I get carded again but now by the cashier or theater ticket taker checking to see if I’m old enough to get the Senior Discount.
It means I only have a couple years before officially retiring and getting Social Security (if they still offer that by that time).
It means I’m old enough to know better but too old to care anymore.
It means those character lines and laugh lines are just plain old wrinkles.
It means I get more doors held open for me by men and women not being chivalrous but just helping an old lady along. I’ve decided I actually like it.
It means when I go to the Senior Center, people don’t try to help me find my mom or grandma.
It means all those times as a snarky teen when I made fun of the flappy skin hanging off my grandma’s arms, is now coming back to haunt me.
It means if you had long hair you may have been one of those girls sporting a Princess Leah hair do.
It means if you needed glasses you may have been one of those unfortunates wearing the "cat's eyes" glasses.
It means the obituaries have become interesting reading, almost like a high school yearbook.
Arnold Bennett said that turning 60 means you have spent twenty years in bed and over three years eating. That is humbling.
Washington Irving wrote that after you turn 60 your mischief is mainly in your head. Good to know.
Do you get regular exercise?
How do you feel about getting older?
So what can we do to get the most out of these years ahead?
* Read more
I think reading and writing make me more mentally alert (and that is what the world needs: more lerts). I feel sharp and informed when I read. I feel sure this will be a bedtime habit that will continue in my future. But writing as well as, reinforces what I have read and makes it easier to remember and save what I read. My interests are varied and I think mixing biographies and romance novels, do-in-yourself and psychology books, make me a better, well-rounded person.
* Take care of my health, my blood pressure.
See a doctor regularly. Do regular breast exams.
* Eat better
My weight has always been a battle for me and as I get older, I can see this battle is not getting easier. I need to be more vigilant with myself about overeating which is a factor in many diseases and disorders in aging.
* Exercise more
I hate exercise but see the benefit when I bother to do it. This has got to be more of a priority with me in the future and would certainly help with my weight issues.
* Visit with and enjoy my grandkids more
This shouldn’t be a difficult task, however I don’t like driving much and my grandkids don’t live nearby. When I get there, I’m ecstatic, but the drive is exhausting. I just need to bit the bullet and swallow the frog.
* Keep learning
Never stop learning. I think it keeps me young to be continually learning and trying new things. I actually don’t understand my peers who refuse to get a computer or learn how to use a cell phone. Technology is a fabulous thing. It is going to continue with or without me, so I might as well embrace it while I can. Not to mention, the Internet is a great innovation, making the world a smaller place than ever before.
In 1976-77, I lived in Spain. It took 6 weeks for a letter to get to my mother in California. A trans-Atlantic phone call cost us $25 per minute (hundreds of dollars today) and was reserved for the birth announcement. What I wouldn’t have given to be able to Skype her and ask questions about my newborn or just visit on email. Today we don’t have to wait a day before we can get answers from loved ones mail. This is a great thing.
I heard someone say once that the day they stop learning is they day that they die. This makes perfect sense to me. I want to learn something new everyday, even if it is something I didn’t know about myself or my honey.
* Remember I’m not alone
There are lots of people turning 60. I’m in the company of greats:
Katey Sagal, (Married with Children); Oprah Winfrey, actress and talk show host; Billy Mumy, (Lost in Space); John Travolta, (Welcome Back Kotter, Pulp Fiction); Ron Howard (American Graffiti, Happy Days); Catherine Bach, (Dukes of Hazzard); Jackie Chan, martial art actor; Dennis Quaid (Dreamscape, Right Stuff); Jerome ‘Jerry’ Seinfeld (Seinfeld); Barry Williams, (Greg-Brady Bunch); Denzel Washington, actor; Scott Bakula, St Louis MO, actor (Quantum Leap, Enterprise); Just to name a few.