“Age Is Change”. That’s an AARP slogan, I think designed to help us feel better about getting older. That should be a clue right there! If maturing is so great, why do we need cheerleaders along the way? “Age is Change”, “You’re only as old as you feel”, “Age is just a number”. It’s all malarkey! Some days I feel older than I really am and 58 is not just a number. It’s the number of years I’ve been tossed around this world, collecting bumps, bruises, and gray hairs! AARP’s got it right though. Age IS change. A lot of change. Some for the better and some not so much.
I feel like I was not prepared for this. No one warned me about getting older or gave me any kind of advice on what to expect or how to get ready. Well, I’m here to do just that. I want my kids and my younger friends to have an idea of what they’re in for. So, here are the major changes I’ve experienced and the advice I would give my younger self if I could.
- Physical ability: The biggest change that hit me when I was around my early 40’s was the fact that my body was starting to have difficulty doing things that I had been able to do before with no problem. For example, a somersault. I can’t even explain the feeling I got after doing one in my 40’s vs. my 30’s even. It was like an all-over body rush that left me with a killer headache and dizzier than I think I should have been. Shortly after hitting 45, I couldn’t do any kind of exercise without some sort of pain – all the time – before, during, and after. We think we’re bullet-proof when we’re young and it never crosses our mind that one day we might be physically limited. Well, guess what? It could happen.
My advice: Start working out early and keep working out on a regular basis. Drink tons of water and when your joints start hurting, switch to low-impact stuff like swimming and cycling. Walk a lot all the time. Drink tons of water! I can’t say that enough.
- Libido: I’m not going to go into too much detail on this one. It’s pretty personal and different for everyone, but trust me, one way or the other it changes.
My advice: Other than investing in little blue or pink pills, I don’t have a lot of advice except to communicate with your partner and be kind to each other as you go through this one. Being on the same page will help a lot.
- Bladder control: This was a surprise! I wasn’t expecting problems here until I was like 80. Apparently, it can start as early as your 30’s. Maybe even earlier. I’m not an expert. What I do know is that the first time you start jumping up and down to your favorite song and all of a sudden you’re so glad that you’re at home and not out in public where you don’t have a change of undies, is a bit unnerving. To say the least.
My advice: This was actually my GYN’s advice – Kegel exercises. If you’ve ever been pregnant, you probably know what those are. If not, look it up. The other option is surgery, and according to my doctor, we don’t want that surgery. So, start early and do them often. I’m sure it’s not a guarantee, but it has worked for me.
- Complexion: In my 40’s I started noticing things like skin tags, age spots, and other changes to the skin all over my body, not just on my face. Spots I had never seen before. And my face started trying to grow moles! My dad had those so that wasn’t a total surprise. My chin started sagging and fine lines started appearing around my eyes. Seemingly overnight these thing appeared, although I’m sure it wasn’t overnight.
My advice: microdermabrasion is your friend. There are over-the-counter products for getting rid of skin tags now. There are a plethora of high-cost methods for tackling these things, but I don’t invest my money there. I use a concealer on my age spots, and my moisturizer is coconut oil – all over, even around my eyes. The best advice I can give on this one though, is keep an eye on any spots that appear. If they grow or change color, see your doctor. And let go of vanity. It’s not worth it. I’m not saying to stop caring about your appearance. I’m saying stop obsessing over it. We all age. Age as gracefully as you can and throw vanity out the window.
- Attitude: That last one is a good segway into this one. As I age I seem to have a better grasp on what’s important. I have come to accept that I am NOT bulletproof and that people and relationships are more important than appearances. Also, my relationship with Jesus has kept me from crashing into the rocks while navigating these changing waters. He is my lifeline.
My Advice: Meet Jesus sooner and when you find your attitude changing, roll with it. Enjoy being comfortable in your own skin and the shift in priorities. Wisdom is setting in. 😉
Now that I’m past middle-age, I’m more aware of my own mortality and that awareness fuels a drive to know my Creator better and make my time here more meaningful. I care less about what people think of me and more about how to make meaningful connections with them.
Age IS change, some for the better and some not so much. The best advice I think I could give my younger self is to do what you can about the not so good changes – make the best of them – and focus more on the changes for the better. The knowledge and wisdom you’ve (hopefully) acquired, the shift in priorities to things that really matter, caring less about what people think and more about the people themselves. A positive attitude and being anchored to The Rock (Jesus) is essential.
This has all been MY experience. Everyone’s path is different, but if you share any similarities with mine I hope this has been helpful. And if you’re not in any of these places yet, I hope a little heads-up to possibilities has been helpful to YOU. Whatever your season of life, know that the one constant in life is change and the more accepting of that you are, the happier I believe you will be.