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Being of a 'certain age' has its perks, too

 
Series: Redefining Aging | Story 12

September 19, 2019 | View PDF



Bette Davis had it wrong.

Remember her famous line? "Old age ain't any place for sissies." Seriously? What part of life is for sissies?

Toddlers are on a straight uphill battle learning how to walk, talk and get the Cheerios into their mouths, instead of up their nose.

Adolescents - yikes! That's a time filled with changes, inside and out, and the feeling that every thought, blemish and worry is about to go viral across social media, meme'd and "liked" a thousand times.

College and the early stages of adulting are fraught with a myriad of challenges. Issues like credit scores, student loans, mortgage payments and picking a partner for life are coming right at you.

Coast into your early 50s and you can take a deep breath. You actually have a bit of wisdom on your side. You have learned a few things. You know your strengths and you know what brings you joy. Ideally, you've balanced your check book a time or two.

By now, you've observed life around you, know what you like and what you don't. You have an interesting list of places to visit and things to do. The goals, decisions and spending are for the most part discretionary.

Think about that for a second. What part of your life has been discretionary up to this point?

Until now you had a parent, teacher, boss, professor, drill sergeant or partner telling you what you could and could not do. You had obligations to stretch your budget as far as humanly possible, opting for Ramen when bills needed to be paid as your loans, expenses and obligations quickly outpaced your starter salary.

Your time? Your parents decided it, the school schedule defined it, your family dynamics determined it.

Now ... now you can bring the car home when you want. You can eat your desert first. You can put Baileys' in your morning coffee on a lazy, chilly Sunday.

Aging comes with wisdom and insight. It comes with new beginnings and bittersweet endings.

Sure, it brings challenges, but you now have a life time of experiences to help you tackle the challenges. And news flash - challenges are a huge part of every stage of life. When you're 50 (or 60 or 80) you're a lot smarter than when you were 20, trying to figure things out for the first time.

There is now the opportunity to gift people in your life with your wisdom, your old golf clubs and those candlesticks you never use. Give stuff away and make people happy. That will make you happy, too. Trust me.

This is a time of life filled with choices and options. Do it well and have others wish they were you. If you do it right, they'll think they can't wait 'til it's their turn.

But don't do it alone. A new website, agingredefined.org, is filled with great information to help you navigate this path. Resources, education, services and more. If you were planning the trip of a lifetime, you'd do the research, pull in experts and talk to people who have been there.

You are literally on the journey of your life. Make the most of it.

- Annie Krug is the executive director of The Community House and a member of the Healthy Aging Task Force.

 
 

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