But Nobody Told Me!
Telling my adult children about aging feels important to me.  My mother was 84 when she died. She never talked about what it felt like to grow old - the good, the bad and the ugly - so here I am at 67 with no road map, and much of what I have encountered has been unexpected.   Here is some of what I have learned so far: The Challenges 1. I have learned that growing old gracefully is a lofty (and for me unattainable) ideal. How can I possibly embrace the aging process with grace when the image in the mirror stares back at me mercilessly, as it taunts me with its drastically thinning hair, ubiquitous age spots, and face that is rapidly migrating south. If I'm supposed to embrace my aging appearance, I’m failing abysmally. [gallery columns="1" ids="2125"] 2. I have learned that short-term memory is ... well ... short! and, as we age, fades into oblivion. In the (probably futile) hope of warding off dementia, I engage in sundry forms of brain exercise, but it doesn’t seem to make a dent in my memory difficulties. Thoughts and ideas that enter my mind often disappear in mili-seconds, lost forever unless I am somehow able to quickly scribble them down. And if – during a conversation - I have to politely wait my turn to speak, I forget what I wanted to say – and then get stuck trying desperately to remember. 3. I have learned that the greeting ‘How are you?’ takes on a whole new meaning for seniors. Just when we begin our long-awaited retirement, medical issues lie in wait, ready ...
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Aging Gracefully
  Aging with Dignity? Why do I think that aging with dignity is an oxymoron?  Because - with more than a smattering of nostalgia -  I am watching my optimism about aging with dignity slowly but surely drift into oblivion. But wait! Rewind ...   to the 1950s, to my high school days in Johannesburg, South Africa,  when my fellow students and I were assigned a creative writing task. We were to write an opinion piece using the title ‘Old Ladies’. My thoughts flowed easily as I put pen to paper, expounding the declining importance of older women in our society. I concluded my essay proudly and  with the unwavering conviction reserved for the unconscious mind – stating that I had no wish to live past the age of  (wait for it!)  49, beyond which I would simply be a burden on society! It’s a good thing my sentiments slipped past the ‘powers that be’  or I wouldn’t be here to tell the story!  Oh! how I’m eating my words now! I suppose I should be ashamed of my teenage ignorance,  but I am far more concerned about the “A” grade that I received for this essay!  I have a  great deal  to say about that! Firstly,  I should have been hauled into the Guidance Counselor’s office to begin a process of social awareness training. Secondly, somebody should have explored where on earth I got the idea that 50 was old!!  Although I did not grow up with grandparents (all  died during my pre-school years), I had aunts and uncles who were probably in their 50’s and up. 49??  What was I thinking??  Hell, when I was 49 (almost 20 years ago) I ...
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