How do you change the perception of aging?

Posted by Merry, Volunteer Mentor @merpreb, Jun 19, 2020

I've been doing a lot of thinking, and I mean a lot of thinking about aging and accepting certain facts that go with it. It's a tough job. I look in the mirror and the girl who I expect to see is no longer there. Where did she go? How long ago did she disappear? Has someone else taken her place? Why can't I accept what I see instead of being depressed? I've wondered what kind of changes I can make to be more accepting of myself.

For way too long "old age" myths, the media, and cosmetic industries have dictated how women should feel about themselves. What they say or imply is an injustice to women and enhances the notion that aging isn’t good. They want us to mask our looks, change the color of our hair, and let someone cut us so that our skin looks stretched and fresh and young! Looking young is not being young. The first thing that I have to get rid of is the term, "feeling old." Old is not a feeling. It's a fact, a state of being. So what does this mean? It means that I need other words to describe how I'm feeling. Perhaps I might be feeling low about something, or I'm in pain or feel lonely, feeble, burdensome, or demoralized. And these words are the words that describe me when I feel "old".

I can’t feel young either. Youth is not a feeling. But at times I feel energetic, courageous, beautiful, healthy, and active. Feeling well makes me feel that there is the promise of tomorrow, I'm happy and healthy-ish. I can't change the way I look or my genetic make-up. But I can strive to feel my best, and feel a sense of well-being and satisfaction in doing what is best for me. I can pursue what I know to be my purpose, my passions at this time. Not what I want to do or dream to do but things that make me feel whole, complete, wanted, needed, and loved. Purposes, my life passions, that make me think and feel whole. If this means putting color in my hair or trying a new lip color, then that’s what I’ll do. Not because I look “old or wan” but because I want to do it.

Because of my stage 4 lung cancer, my bucket list has changed. I no longer can think in terms of “Well I have plenty of time.” My bucket list consists of todays. What to do today, where do I go today, what do I read, eat, and think today. My lists no longer have unrealistic goals for the future but doctors' appointments, lab work, and rest. My plans are to do things that make me feel like I have a purpose and that I feel are important in everything I do, things that have meaning for me. My purpose for resting is so that I can later feel more refreshed for a walk, or meeting a friend. My purpose for drinking lots of water is so that I don't get dehydrated and feel ill. My purpose is to nag my husband to be careful on his runs, make sure his clothes are clean, and that he eats clean fresh food. My purpose is to hug him and tell him that I love him as much as I can. I need to feel fulfilled by talking to my son and maybe irritate him too. I’m a mother. It makes me feel good. My bucket list might not stretch very far into the future but it sure is full.

By changing how I think, with a different vocabulary, maybe I can help change the perception of aging. And this might help me so that when I look in the mirror I might see some of the old me and not the aged me.

Good morning, @merpreb. The sun is shining, the trees are leafy, the grass is green – what a beautiful day! We all can think of a place that we consider to be completely safe – a natural scene like a beach, a mountain, a forest. For me it’s standing under an open space staring at the wondrous stars at night. The stars have been there long before we were here and will remain long after we are gone. Yet without our perception of them would they be there to be appreciated? If we cannot physically be in our safe place, we can certainly find a quiet place around our own home, close our eyes, and put ourselves there. When you do so, think of all the good things you have done, think of all the smiles you have engendered, and think of what it is that you are grateful for on this day.

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WOW!!! I so admire the forthright way you are dealing with yourself and your thoughts often echo what I think and feel when in my introspective mood. One thing that is first and foremost is distinguishing between what I really want/need and that of others or society. I am so encouraged by this post as often I am discouraged by things but this is so refreshing. Now I need to get on with today which is obviously the only time I can take action and pursue the things that are important to me. Thanks so very, very much!

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@merpreb

@sapphira– Just because I have some understanding of aging doesn't mean that I don't wish for youth, fewer lines, and better health. Congratulations on reaching 89! Now it's time to make the best of it! At your age, you can say anything you want and get away with it! 🙂 On Connect we stay away from discussions about politics. Connect is about patients comforting and supporting other patients. Stay healthy and thank you for such a nice compliment.

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I'll have to stand corrected re my mention of "politics," however I feel it fitted in with the ageism I see today, and was not really political in nature. Sorry if I went against the rules of the house.

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@sapphira

I'll have to stand corrected re my mention of "politics," however I feel it fitted in with the ageism I see today, and was not really political in nature. Sorry if I went against the rules of the house.

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@sapphira, I am 3 months older than my husband. He claimed he chose me for my wisdom!

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@rosemarya

@sapphira, I am 3 months older than my husband. He claimed he chose me for my wisdom!

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@rosemarya I know a man who is 70. He told me, with a straight face, that he has a young wife. She is 69 1/2. Age, like beauty, can be in the eye of the beholder.

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@lagrange5

@rosemarya I know a man who is 70. He told me, with a straight face, that he has a young wife. She is 69 1/2. Age, like beauty, can be in the eye of the beholder.

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@lagrange5 -It has worked for us. Married 45 years ago this day!

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Bravo and thanks for addressing this topic!!
A little of my background. Go back to mid 1970's and caught in between to societal waves. One pressure to get married, children, house, and the other side the beginning of the women's movement, bra burning, etc. Such confusion but married for 18 years then divorce. Times goes by quickly and now 65 years old, single, post menopausal, losing my beautiful hair and teeth but want to go out and dance, date ( when safe). Happened to mention to younger generation that I'd like to date and they asked me…you date??? If one has gray hair one is perceived as out to pasture giving the word "senior" a negative connotation. Senior just classifies a particular age group but cosmetic and clothing companies still primarily cater to the younger generations.

I too look in the mirror and don't recognize who I am now and it seems like it's happened overnight. My skin is drier and makeup needs to require better ingredients and applied with a lighter hand to enhance what is the current state of affairs for my face/skin. I still like to wear heels and be somewhat fashionable, but the gray hair and if I share my age changes other's perception of me.

Guess it's obvious I'm having a difficult time dealing with aging. So how can we help one another?

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@rosemarya

@lagrange5 -It has worked for us. Married 45 years ago this day!

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@rosemarya Congratulations

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You say you are 65 yrs old? Wow, that's young to me (I'm 88), and at your age I was busy socially, dating, etc. Perhaps you are "buying" the ageing
issue that's so out there now. Firstly, don't give up – you could dye your hair – become a redhead if you have fair skin (like me). I did it when I was 40, went red. Gray hair can be beautiful if styled well. Try another hairdresser, if you go to one, or just seek one out if you don't. We all age and with that comes the physical changes in our faces and body. Focus on your interests or develop a new one and go out to people. Be accessible to other people – it's hard but can be worth the effort. In other words don't focus too much on the age issue, become more "interesting". Forget what's going on out there and develop an inner self that feels worthwhile and socially valid. Also, don't focus on what young girls are wearing, you can look classic but interesting with the right accessories and appropriate clothes. Don't imitate the kids, develop your own look.

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@rosemarya

@lagrange5 -It has worked for us. Married 45 years ago this day!

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Well, bless you both! Obviously both of you see the beauty in each other. Whatever you’re doing, keep doing it.

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@sapphira

You say you are 65 yrs old? Wow, that's young to me (I'm 88), and at your age I was busy socially, dating, etc. Perhaps you are "buying" the ageing
issue that's so out there now. Firstly, don't give up – you could dye your hair – become a redhead if you have fair skin (like me). I did it when I was 40, went red. Gray hair can be beautiful if styled well. Try another hairdresser, if you go to one, or just seek one out if you don't. We all age and with that comes the physical changes in our faces and body. Focus on your interests or develop a new one and go out to people. Be accessible to other people – it's hard but can be worth the effort. In other words don't focus too much on the age issue, become more "interesting". Forget what's going on out there and develop an inner self that feels worthwhile and socially valid. Also, don't focus on what young girls are wearing, you can look classic but interesting with the right accessories and appropriate clothes. Don't imitate the kids, develop your own look.

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I live in a rural area in the Southwest and COVID-19 has put a damper on socialization, but open to your suggestions. I guess I have bought into the ageing issue, but enjoy your spunk. I appreciate your words of encouragement and wisdom. Would love to keep in touch.

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@marjou

Bravo and thanks for addressing this topic!!
A little of my background. Go back to mid 1970's and caught in between to societal waves. One pressure to get married, children, house, and the other side the beginning of the women's movement, bra burning, etc. Such confusion but married for 18 years then divorce. Times goes by quickly and now 65 years old, single, post menopausal, losing my beautiful hair and teeth but want to go out and dance, date ( when safe). Happened to mention to younger generation that I'd like to date and they asked me…you date??? If one has gray hair one is perceived as out to pasture giving the word "senior" a negative connotation. Senior just classifies a particular age group but cosmetic and clothing companies still primarily cater to the younger generations.

I too look in the mirror and don't recognize who I am now and it seems like it's happened overnight. My skin is drier and makeup needs to require better ingredients and applied with a lighter hand to enhance what is the current state of affairs for my face/skin. I still like to wear heels and be somewhat fashionable, but the gray hair and if I share my age changes other's perception of me.

Guess it's obvious I'm having a difficult time dealing with aging. So how can we help one another?

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My name is dave and a freind told me she gets depressed sometimes so I wanted to look up some information and I saw your post and it made me think. So here goes when you told people about dating and their reply was you date they were not being positive or negative they were just responding to the to your openness of you talking about it good job by the way putting yourself out there. So now if someone asks you how they can support you please let them know in an open and loving way and describe in detail best you can how they can help and forget about what you think that they think about their answers you date. By the way look into taking a dance lesson here in mpls most lessons you rotate partners to become better

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