Age is a state of mind. At least that’s what many of us say, particularly as we age. We’re all 30-something in our mind. Does that mean we are having difficulty coping? Or is the confusion between what our grandparents looked like and acted like at the age we are now versus how we are living our aging lives?
Because of our age we expect ourselves to act a certain way but the world has changed. Is changing. People are living longer – not necessarily healthier, but a quick search of articles on the Internet shows no end of advice about the exercises to do, the foods to eat, the green stuff to drink and the brain games to play to stave off the effects of age. Within just a couple of generations what aging looks like has changed.
Hair colour, Botox and Juvederm, Tai Chi, green tea, the Mediterranean diet, vegan and gluten-free, walking clubs, Dr. Oz, drink wine or don’t drink wine, vitamins, ditch the granny panties, dark chocolate, superfruit, supplements, good fat, mental aerobics, Thermage and Fraxel, water, avocados, yoga. The list is endless and often contradictory.
Note these headlines:
Do we have to choose? Alzheimer’s or cancer?
How we behave is as important as what we consume. Very few women worked outside of the home in my grandparent’s generation. In the current generation it’s assumed that women will have careers. As I write this, Hillary Clinton is potentially the next President of the U.S.A., a thought never thought by my grandparents. Conversely men are nurses and teachers, careers not previously available to them. As recently as 1981 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the refusal of nursing schools to admit men to be unconstitutional.
Grandparents in this generation are routinely rollerblading, skiing and swimming laps. The fastest growing demographic on Facebook is the over 55 crowd and this author recently taught her 28-year-old how to use SnapChat filters.
RV parks are no longer the sedate stopovers they once were. They’re now populated by wireless Internet access, upscale washroom/shower facilities, movie theaters, golf courses, hot tubs and more.
Clothing styles have changed for community dwelling seniors. Gone are the abundance of floral printed day dresses worn with sensible shoes for the 50+ crowd and while you can still easily spot sandals and knee socks on some men, fashion has evolved. It’s no longer unusual to see companies like American Apparel or Bulgari using 60-year olds in their ad campaigns. Cosmetic companies are celebrating older women in their campaigns as well.
Hip, hard of hearing seniors are foregoing traditional hearing aids for hearing ear buds and even support hose has made strides toward the fashionable with colours and patterns that our grandparents would never have considered wearing in regular socks.
None of this is surprising once we realize that by the year 2020 1 in 5 Americans will be seniors, a vast difference from 1900 when 1 in 25 Americans was a senior.
Today’s seniors are better educated, better travelled and, while aging isn’t kind to everyone, there are enough seniors who have planned and taken care of themselves well enough to want more than staying at home baking cookies for the grandkids. It’s no wonder that today’s seniors don’t see themselves as their grandparent’s idea of what 60 or 70 should look like. Is 80 really the new 60? For many of us, the answer is yes.