When I turned 50, I got an invitation to join AARP. I was officially “old”, I thought. From then on, I would be a “woman over 50” – a category that would define me for the rest of my life.
My 50’s started out well. I was healthy, active in business and traveling between homes in Florida and Maine. I was kayaking, scuba diving and working out three times a week with a trainer. Life was good – even though AARP magazines began showing up regularly, more and more young people were calling me “ma’am”, and I found myself avoiding the bathroom scale.
Around my mid-50’s, I realized there was more to come. I began to have what my mom called “women’s troubles”. Menopause was hell. I dealt with brittle hair, weight gain, iron deficiency and high cholesterol. I lost my mom, an aunt, two uncles and a friend. I found myself pulling back from my Type-A business lifestyle. I spent more time reading and writing and learned to play golf.
Then it happened. I turned 60. I was surprised to find that I felt very different than when I turned 50. Now, three years into this decade of my life, I have decided that being over 60 is NOT the same as being over 50. In fact, we deserve our own category. (That’s why my friend Patty and I started this blog site!)
What’s so different? Everyone’s experience is unique, of course. But here are some things that are true for me and probably true for many other women in my age group:
- Business isn’t at the top of my list… family and friends are
- Aches and pains are much scarier… is my body telling me something?
- I’m increasingly concerned about contributing something positive to the world… do I still have time?
- Illness and death are front and center… enough said
- Politics and world events irritate me but don’t make me want to march or protest… or even talk about them much
- Days are slower paced, but the weeks and months go by quickly… really quickly
- It surprises me to look in the mirror and realize that plastic surgery could help… but not enough
- Keeping my body flexible and toned is more important than keeping it thin… assuming I even could
- Looking “good” is what I want to achieve every day… Looking “hot and sexy”? I wish!
I might have begun to think and feel some of these things in my 50’s, but they are now solidly in my life and here to stay.
TIME OUT: I was just editing this blog and received a phone call with a recorded message: “Hello, Catherine, this is John. You have been selected to receive a free senior citizen medical alert system ……” I hung up quickly. Am I being overly sensitive or did they know I was over 60? Would a 50’s-something woman have received this call? I doubt it.
Magazines and websites like to gear their articles and advice to women over 50. It may be convenient for them, but it’s not my reality. At 63, I think, feel and behave differently than when I was 53.
Will I advocate a category of over 70 women in eight or nine years? I don’t know, but I’ll keep you “posted”.