I never thought aging would be easy, but I also never realized it would be quite so confusing. It’s hard enough to help my almost 89-year old mother figure out whether she wants to continue to stay alone in the spacious house she loves and has lived in for the past ten years, or move to a retirement community. Moving would require downsizing to a one-bedroom apartment, but staying means that sometimes she is lonely and we would have to scramble for help if she fell or became seriously ill. It’s not an easy choice to make, but it’s one she has to make for herself.
I may be only 61, but I’ve still reached the age where I’m confronted with far too many choices. My husband and I live in a modest house with a big yard, with the master bedroom and bathroom upstairs. We’ve lived here over twenty years and are very attached to our house. But is it time to move somewhere that will work better for us as we age? Somewhere with a first-floor master suite, a smaller yard and a driveway that isn’t long enough to park seven cars? Sometimes I think living in a condo within walking distance to stores and restaurants would be great. Other times, I think I’d rather just stay here until one of our kids signs us into a nursing home.
And those are the just the choices about living arrangements. Because face it, the days when women reached a certain age and started dressing like “little old ladies” are basically over. Stores that cater to women my age and up don’t exactly feature the house-dresses and sensible shoes my grandmother wore. But there are still times when I look at an item of clothing and think, “is this too young for me?” I still want to look nice, but I sure don’t want to be like the seventy-something woman I saw last week wearing a micro-mini skirt. (Yes, she had long legs. But no, it wasn’t a good look for her.)
Sometimes I think that medical science has advanced just a little too far, at least in the cosmetic surgery department. Almost everything on our face and body can be plumped here and taken in there, which means we have to decide just exactly what kind of adjustments we’re willing to make in order to cling to our youthful looks. And while I know that each of us gets to make our own choice, I sometimes find myself almost apologizing for my wrinkly neck and ever-growing under-eye bags because I know they can be fixed. I’m just too chicken to actually do it.
No doubt about it, the choices we’re faced with as we age are as difficult as they are plentiful, and there is no “one size fits all” answer. All we can do is establish our own priorities and pursue our own goals, and respect the fact that other people might make choices that are different from ours. We each get to choose what is most important to us, and we each live in different circumstances.
But the one thing we have in common is the fact that we’ve lived long enough to even address the issues of aging. Because even though growing older can be a pain some times, our life is still a gift, no matter what our age happens to be.