Flourishing in the Eighth Decade!

Women everywhere, welcome to our blogspot, a space for sharing experiences, thoughts, and ideas about how to overcome obstacles and thrive as we approach and endure in the eighth decade of life. We hope this exchange will be a source of inspiration for the next generation of seventy year olds. Those baby boomers are hot on our heels, and want to know more about what lies ahead. Nobody gave us a guidebook or shared what this path might be like. As we burn those seventy candles, we can help shed some light on the trail for them.

What has this transition been like for you? Serious, funny, commonplace, unusual, short, long stories, all are welcome. How does it feel to be among the oldest in the crowd? What does it take to thrive in this decade? How do you think others see you? What contributes to well-being and yes, flourishing at three score and ten?

We welcome the comments and reflections of women everywhere. All cultures, ethnicities, socioeconomic status and backgrounds; as diverse a sample as we can reach.

Please contribute brief anecdotes, observations, thoughts, ideas, and life stories by posting them in the comment section below.

Alternatively, you could email longer stories to us at 70candles@gmail.com. Please include information about your age, ethnicity/cultural background, geographic location, education, and work status. We will organize, collate, and share your emailed stories anonymously on this blogspot. Ultimately this may become a book about how our generation flourishes. Spread the word!! 

Posted in 70candles | 23 Comments

Such is life

Elaine,  Age 70

Well I am wondering how to live under the pressure that 70 is the new 60! Really….Tell both of my arthritic knees that. I remember my grandmother holding onto everything as she walked and I as a little girl said to myself, no matter how much I hurt I won’t walk like that! Wrong! But I go to the senior center 5 times a week and lift a few weights and pedal a sit down bike and get to feel pretty good, except when it rains.

I do acrylic painting, nothing great but have fun! I wrote a short story and some poetry. Lately I worry about the legacy to my grandsons…everyone is so busy I am left behind, the last to come up, I can’t compete with the other 2 grandmas.

Oh well such is life….my husband is great, now after 46 years….we always say life is good as the saying goes. I color my hair and listen to the newest and oldest music on the radio and sing along!!!

Posted in 70candles, About turning 70, Grandparenting, Our bodies, our health | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Am I insane for taking all this on, or should I just keep on trucking?

Noel,  Age 70

I must be in complete denial. I am 70, will be 71 in December. I have broken my femur, two wrists, a pelvic fracture 11 years ago, and breast cancer when I was 57.

This week, I will graduate with a masters degree in Mental Health Counseling and I expect to work part time as a therapist until I am 80. I am single, was married briefly in my thirties(no children) and started my own business when I was 49. Fortunately, I did well so I have been able to put aside some money (not a fortune) but enough to see me through until my demise. I am estranged from the only family I have, two sisters, but I do have friends. I own a horse, who is boarded 7 minutes from my house and I anticipate riding again when I return from moving out of a recently sold house (lost money on it) upstate New York.

Recently, I have become a little frightened. I look much younger than my years, but my accidents coupled with aging skin, has weakened my fortitude. I love Jane Fonda’s talk on Ted that we are not going to sink into decrepitude but I am beginning to feel like I am on shaky ground and that maybe I should move in to a one bedroom retirement community and scale back big time.

Am I insane for taking all this on, or should I just keep on trucking? Would love to hear from similar type a ladies.

Posted in 70candles, Finances, Looking ahead, Older women connecting, Our bodies, our health, Resilience, Where to live, Work life and retirement | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 30 Comments

Feeling lonely and struggling with ageism

Diane,  Age 71

Thank you, Jane and Ellen for allowing me to share.

First of all, my heart goes out to Lois (“My 70’s Story”) for what she was faced with and for her courage in dealing with it.

I feel that I identify with Ronne in England. Even though – thank God – I’m healthy, I, too, have literally daily unbidden thoughts of my own mortality. I don’t feel my age and am reminded of the saying, “How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?” Honestly, I’d be in my mid 40s.

Since my husband and I moved to our current home ten years ago, I have found it quite impossible to generate any “genuine” friendships in spite of being involved in volunteer work for over seven years. Yes, I’ve developed acquaintanceships but have not formed any bonds (even among 70 somethings!) that I could call friendships. Are my standards simply too high? I hope not. I honestly feel that I have put genuine effort into the process with no results. I get a lot of, “Hey, let’s meet for coffee. I’ll call you.” No calls are received. And, when I take the bull by the horns, so to speak, everyone seems to be so “slammed.” I believe that I am a pleasant, interesting woman, and when I read or hear about other women’s “girlfriends,” (think Susan Branch, for example) I wonder, pitifully, how one acquires them. I joke to myself that Karma is biting me for sins committed in a previous life.

When I decided to join a book club 10 miles from where I live, I discovered that there is a “cutoff” age of 68! Apparently, even being 69, let alone 71, is “too” old. Are we septuagenarians offending the sensibilities of younger people?

I and many in my age group that I have known over the years had such respect for people in my parents’ generation. I was always interested in what they had to say and what their life experiences were. The fact that they were older than I made no difference to me. I don’t know about anyone else out there, but for the most part I don’t feel this is the case anymore. As I have previously mentioned, once you’re of a certain age, you’re simply invisible. I feel such a sense of loneliness. My husband loves me dearly, but we share no common interests (it’s not for lack of trying). He has his “guy” friendships to occupy much of his time.

All right then, enough of these depressing thoughts. I should pick up my needlework (challenging, not even close to Home Sweet Home) and my books (my “real” friends) and get on with it. Sigh. I don’t mean for this to be a complaint fest. Am I one of the few who feel this way?

Thank you again for the opportunity to pour it all out.

 

Posted in 70candles, Ageism anecdotes, Networking, Older women connecting, Where to live, Work life and retirement | Tagged , , , , , , | 10 Comments

I miss my old house

Anonymous,  Age 70

Okay I wrote in this blog about living in an extremely rural Area in Montana and finally sold our home and land. Excited about change after 17 years of no friends and the loneliness over came me. I’ve been here since Sept of 2016. I’m turned 70. Medical issues surfaced not serious

We’ve come to the conclusion this house is very small. It needed at least $35,000 in upgrades. Realized the traffic is horrible in this small residential area. Still no friends, …oh they wave, say hello. The yard turned out to be a huge challenge $$$$$$. My location is in the center of the city. We’ve gone out to eat several times.

I miss my old house; it was finished, the yard was mature. And location was a bit quieter. I wished we could have moved our house in to closer land. Yes I know, reality showed me a big fat No.

I feel down, I feel letdown. My husband who is older does not like to go to many things going on in the area. Did I mention we have 3 older ranch dogs and 2 smaller dogs? Can’t leave the house for too long, maybe 3 hours…the last 2 months medical issues surfaced…a ganglion cyst on my right…hand surgery was more intense. Dr found it was wrapped around a tenden in my thumb and a joint in my thumb. It’s been 8 weeks of not being able to drive very far, clean my little house, no Quilting, no decorative painting. Lifting of a full glass of water is not on the list. Plus issues in my neck from an old injury.

All this does not change the issue of not feeling home. My husband built up a small garden for salads. Yah I can’t cut anything I’m right handed. I read and listen to my realaxing music from Pandora.

Well I’m signing off now. I’m so grateful for this blog. After reading some of the stories I know I ‘m not the only one going through difficult Emotional times. God Bless you.

 

Posted in 70candles, About turning 70, Family matters, Men aging, Our bodies, our health, What do we do with our time?, Where to live | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

My life’s purpose became clear

Barbara,  Age 70

I retired 2 ½ years ago and recently turned 70. I have always looked for meaning in my life, and found it in my work. But it’s been a struggle finding day-to-day purpose in retirement. I love the freedom that retirement offers – sleeping late, exercising as much as I like, reading a book in the afternoon, visiting friends without restraints on my time, but it’s not been enough. I don’t volunteer well, like other people I know. And I don’t have any particular hobbies. My son lives in China and doesn’t have any children as yet. I pondered  what to do with my time for a while, then about six months ago the purpose of my retirement came clear. They say “you get what you wish for.” Well suddenly every minute in my life was purposeful, and I was busier than ever before.

In November 2016, my husband and I were out bicycle riding in the retirement community in which we own a vacation home. There was a small hill just three blocks from our home. My husband whizzed past me and sped down the hill in order to pick up momentum for the uphill climb. At the bottom of the hill something happened. I looked up in time to see him tumble over the handle bars, bouncing head first on the concrete road. He was not wearing a helmet. I knew in a split second that my life had changed forever.

Upon arriving by ambulance to a local trauma center, he was diagnosed with traumatic brain injury with a poor prognosis. In that moment, my life’s purpose became clear. I vowed to do everything in my power to see him through this tragedy, no matter the outcome.

My husband spent eight weeks in three different hospitals. I was at his bedside every day, communicating with health care professionals, making life and death decisions, and speaking with each doctor and nurse who touched him to be sure they had the proper information. There was no room for error in his precarious situation. I watched a once healthy and joyful man reduced to a body with tubes coming out of every opening in his body. He did not know who he was and what was happening around him. He couldn’t speak, was highly agitated, and fought so violently that he had to be restrained to the bed. He underwent surgery to repair fractures in his face and eye, was fed liquids through a feeding tube, needed a respirator to breathe. I networked as best I could to find the best facilities for him.

Miraculously after 8 weeks in 3 hospitals, I brought him home. By then he was breathing on his own, and the tracheotomy was removed. But he needed full time care for several weeks to navigate the 75+ stairs in our multi-level townhouse and assist with his liquid feeding. In time, he learned to walk and swallow well enough to eat solid food.

Now, after six months of doctors and therapies he is playing golf, hiking, and driving a car. He still has some short-term memory issues and a soft raspy voice, but basically, he is close to the man he once was.

In hindsight, retirement was a blessing. There was no way I could have managed my husband’s recovery while working the long hours and traveling back and forth across the country – as my job required. Today I feel fortunate that my husband doesn’t need me as much anymore. So, my pursuit of meaning in life has picked up where I left it six months ago. I approached my 70th birthday with  the attitude that it was just another birthday. I didn’t have fear, excitement, or any feeling. But I decided to make something of this arbitrary number to reexamine who I am, what matters to me, how I respond to people, and how I can be a better person. Along the way, I’m hoping to find some new activities that bring added meaning to my life.

Posted in 70candles, About turning 70, Caretaking, Family matters, Our bodies, our health, What do we do with our time?, Work life and retirement | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Knitting a life

After hearing in our 70Candles! discussion groups and on this blog that many women are wondering how they might spend their time, I glanced back on these seven years of my own retirement and offer this summary of how I have dabbled dangerously.

Knitting a Life

by Jane Giddan
Since turning 70, almost seven years ago, and retiring from a long career, I have bravely declared myself a “serial dabbler.” Calling upon historical activity threads of years gone by, I soon began to explore, to find the “perfect” pursuits for the coming years. New to this city, I was also ready to meet new people and establish new relationships.
What I’ve discovered is there is no one “perfect” activity to sustain me in my senior years, and new friends, of all ages, can be developed through common interests. The buffet is endless, I have the luxury of devoting as much time as I want to any pursuit, and, yes, I can still learn new things. Further, when one phase appears to be over, it may not be truly ended, for I can circle back to it at any time.

I began by finding a book group- something during the day. That expanded quickly into two daytime book groups. Lots of interesting reading…some works I’d never have chosen on my own, but have found worthwhile. Congenial groups of women. Many with views similar to my own. Others who diverge, but are open to good-hearted discussion. Lunch afterward where we eat well and get to know each other better…New friends!                                                                                                                                                                  I checked the local Senior Center, and became involved, for many months, in their lively table tennis scene. An able volunteer instructor elevated my game from tame ping pong to hard-hitting competitive table tennis. It was fast-moving, sweaty fun until I tripped on my doubles partner’s shoe and fell backward with a thud. I decided against further such risks, and moved on.

I found an excellent twice a week Core, Balance and Strength Training class at my local recreation center. The talented instructor, who specializes in older adults (everyone is over 50), miraculously presents different routines in each and every class. New (younger) friends there too.

In these hot Dallas summers I’ve challenged myself with lap swimming in our neighborhood pool. I love the quiet weekday mornings there when others are away at work, and each time I enter the pool I try to exceed my previous number of laps. On Saturday mornings, my dear neighborhood pal joins me.

Lately, at his urging, my husband and I have tried Yoga. At first I participated for his sake, but as our sessions have become more challenging, I look forward to them to increase my own flexibility as well.

My creative impulses have led me in new directions. I’ve always doodled, and wondered if I had some latent artistic talent worth unearthing. To find out, I enrolled in a continuing ed. class at the nearby Community College. After three semesters of happily drawing, in pencil, charcoal and colored pencils, it was gratifying to discover that I could, indeed, reproduce objects I saw before me. Then I paused, and turned my attention to writing, but intend to return to art sometime in the future. Meanwhile, I’m saving my daily telephone doodles in a small journal, thinking they’ll serve as inspiration another day.

When I saw a notice for free ukulele lessons at our local Guitar Center store, I signed on. Early years of piano lessons gave me the confidence to ‘face the music.’ Once I could play some old familiar songs, I carried my uke to nursing homes and entertained my friend’s mom, and then another friend’s husband. Each time I now play their “favorite song” I think of them.
I even got my granddaughter launched with a uke. What a treat to play duets with her!

Writing and marketing projects with my husband take a lot of attention, and tend to temporarily drive out other creative pursuits. We’re currently having translated into Spanish, our children’s picture book – Grackles of Green Grove Protect Their Land – with associated coloring books and short plays, and we’re spreading the word far and wide.

Curating the 70Candles.com blog and writing for HuffPost have become my morning tasks. I’m fascinated by the geographic reach of our blog and the quality of the heartfelt postings from women discussing what matters to them in this era of extended longevity.

Then there’s grand-parenting. We moved to the Dallas area be near our adult children and three grandchildren. We’ve been here as support through sickness and health and through the ups and downs of family life, but overall, what a fine experience it has been. Although as they’ve gotten older, our grandkids no longer want to sleep-over, there’s still so much to do with them and for them. I most enjoy sharing my love of museums and theatre, and learning about their lives and their teen-age culture from them.

I’ve most recently picked up knitting needles, and have been producing scarves, upon request. I know, we said in our 70Candles! book that we weren’t like our grandmothers, “sitting in a rocking chair knitting”….but knitting is fun!…quite addictive, and the fruits of one’s handiwork are happily given and gratefully received gifts. An ancient art form that knows no bounds, knitting can lower blood pressure, calm the mind, and relax the body. All reasons it has experienced a renaissance and has become so popular today. What fun helping my granddaughter learn this craft.

And now, my political bones have been aroused, and I’ve been invited to several local political groups that reflect my values. I’m ready to make a difference in these chaotic times. Who knows where this will lead….or what will come next.

We hope you’ll share what new things you have tried, and let us know how they’ve worked out.

Posted in 70candles, Family matters, Goals ahead, Networking, Older women connecting, Our bodies, our health, Resilience, Stories, What do we do with our time? | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Do you know the signs of stroke?

Dixie, Age 73

May is National Stroke month. DO YOU KNOW THE SIGNS OF STROKE?

I didn’t the first time around, 2012, and put off going to the hospital beyond the time limit for receiving the “clot buster”.

Last Saturday, April 29, 2017, I had another stroke event. 911 came to the rescue.

“FAST” is the memory tool for stroke warnings. Please check out my current post on richlyaged.com, “Do you know the signs of stroke.” This post contains all the actions needed to save brain cells and tells my story of what can happen if you don’t react fast enough and what can be possible if you do.

After spending last Saturday night in the hospital, with countless tests, I’m determined to share the information with others. Stroke can strike at any age. Speed equals brain health.

Please share this information with your friends and family. I love my life at 73, my friends, my husband, the countless possibilities for the future. I just want to do my part to ensure that future.

Cherish each day and put the FAST reminder on your refrigerator. Life is good.

Dixie at richlyaged.com

Posted in 70candles, Our bodies, our health | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Wish I had more girlfriends

Mary,  Age 70

I always thought that at this age I’d be “settled.” Nothing could be further from the truth. No relationship, my business is struggling and I worry way too much which I know is bad for one’s health. On the other hand, I am so fortunate! I have two wonderful children and four grandchildren and they are all healthy. My daughter had breast cancer two years ago and is now cancer free. Fortunately my business was doing well while all that was going on. I live in Oklahoma. The oil business has been in the toilet and so my business has been in the toilet too. However, all in all life is ptetty good. My heart breaks when I think about all the Syrian children and so many displaced people who just want a roof over their heads and food in their tummies. How can I possibly complain? I just wish I had more girlfriends.

Posted in About turning 70, Family matters, Gratitude and Spirituality, Looking ahead, Our bodies, our health, Resilience | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

The New York Times’ second article on aging by Jane Brody featuring our book

Today is the first anniversary of the publication of this, the second in Jane Brody’s two-part New York Times series on aging. It again features our 70Candles! book, and a topic of great importance to women our age…where to live. We share it once again for those who might have missed it and for those who will enjoy reading it anew.

To join the conversation on our 70Candles.com blog, find the Where to live category on the right side of the blog site and see what others have to say.


PERSONAL HEALTH
Jane Brody on health and aging.

Aging in Place

When I asked the other three members of my walking group, all of whom are in their mid to upper 70s, whether they had any concerns about future living arrangements, they each said they had none despite the fact that, like me, they live in multistory private homes without elevators and, in two cases, without bathrooms on every floor.

My Los Angeles son asked recently what I might do if I could no longer live in my house, and I flippantly replied, “I’m coming to live with you.” The advantages: I’d be surrounded by a loving and supportive family, and the warm weather is a benefit for someone like me who becomes increasingly intolerant of the cold with each passing year. The disadvantages: I’d lose a familiar community and a host of friends, and his house, unlike mine, is on a steep hill with no nearby stores; if I could no longer drive, I’d have to be chauffeured everywhere.

Probably my biggest deterrent would be relinquishing my independence and the incredible number of “treasures” I’ve amassed over the last half century. The junk would be easy, but parting with the works of art and mementos would be like cutting out my heart.

I suspect that most people are reluctant to think about changing where and how they live as long as they are managing well at the moment. Lisa Selin Davis reports in AARP magazine that “almost 90 percent of Americans 65 or older plan to stay in their homes as they age.” Yet for many, the design of their homes and communities does not suit older adults who lack the mobility, agility and swiftness of the young.

For those who wish to age in place, the authors of “70Candles: Women Thriving in Their 8th Decade,” Jane Giddan and Ellen Cole, list such often-needed home attributes as an absence of stairs, wide doorways to accommodate a walker or wheelchair, slip-resistant floors, lever-style door knobs, remotely controlled lighting, walk-in showers, railings, ramps and lifts. Add to these a 24-hour help system, mobile phone, surveillance cameras and GPS locaters that enable family members to monitor the well-being of their elders.

In many communities, volunteer organizations, like Good Neighbors of Park Slope in Brooklyn and Staying in Place in Woodstock, N.Y., help older residents remain in their homes and live easier and more fulfilling lives.

While many young adults chose to live and bring up children in the suburbs, a growing number of empty-nested retirees are now moving to city centers where they can access public transportation, shop on foot for food and household needs, and enjoy cultural offerings and friendly gatherings without depending unduly on others.

One reason my friends and I are unwilling to even consider leaving our Brooklyn community is our ability to walk to supermarkets, banks, food co-ops, hardware stores, worship and recreational facilities, and get virtually everywhere in the city with low-cost and usually highly efficient public transportation. No driving necessary.

We also wallow in the joys of near-daily walks in a big, beautiful urban park, remarking each time about some lovely vista — the moon, sunrise, visible planets, new plantings and resident wildlife.

Throughout the country, communities are being retrofitted to accommodate the tsunami of elders expected to live there as baby boomers age. Changes like altering traffic signals and street crossings to give pedestrians more time to cross enhance safety for people whose mobility is compromised. New York City, for example, has created Aging Improvement Districts, so far in East Harlem, the Upper West Side and Bedford-Stuyvesant, to help older people “live as independently and engaged in the city as possible,” Ms. Giddan and Ms. Cole wrote. In East Harlem, for example, merchants have made signs easier to read and provided folding chairs for seniors who wish to rest before and after shopping.

In Philadelphia, a nonprofit organization, Friends in the City, calls itself a “community without walls” designed to bring members closer to the city’s resources and to one another. It offers seniors a daily variety of programs to suit many cultural and recreational interests.

Also evolving is the concept of home sharing, in which several older people who did not necessarily know one another get together to buy a home in which to live and share responsibilities for shopping, cooking, cleaning and home repair. For example, in Oregon, Let’s Share Housing, and in Vermont, Home Share Now, have online services that connect people with similar needs, Ms. Giddan and Ms. Cole report. There’s also an online matching service — Roommates4Boomers.com — for women 50 and over looking for compatible living mates.

Of course, there are still many older adults, widows and widowers in particular, who for financial or personal reasons move in with a grown child’s family, sometimes in an attached apartment or separate floor. Host families may gain a built-in babysitter, and children can develop a more intimate relationship with grandma or grandpa.

For those with adequate finances, there is no shortage of for-profit retirement communities that help older people remain independent by providing supportive services and a host of amenities and activities. Some have extensive recreational and exercise facilities, as well as book and craft clubs, discussion groups and volunteer opportunities. Some take residents to theatrical productions and museums and on trips to nearby attractions.

I confess that retirement communities that house only older adults are not my style. I can’t imagine living in a place where I don’t see and interact with children on a daily basis. I find that nothing cheers me more than a smile or comment from a toddler. I guess I take after my father, who used to flirt with every child he noticed in a car near his. But I realize that, just as some people are averse to dogs, not everyone enjoys the companionship of a high-energy child.

For older people likely to require help with the activities of daily living, there are many assisted living facilities where residents can get more or less help, including aid with medications, feeding and ambulation, according to their changing needs.

And should I ever have to leave my home, Ms. Giddan and Ms. Cole point out that there is a new and growing cadre of professional organizers and moving managers to “help people sort through accumulated belongings, distribute and disperse what won’t be needed in the new setting, and assist with all stages of packing, moving and then unpacking, and staging the new home.” Continue reading

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The New York Times article about our book

We celebrate the one-year anniversary of this Jane Brody article. Here’s a chance for those who missed it to read it, and a re-reading opportunity for others.

Enjoy!

Thriving at Age 70 and Beyond

By Jane E. Brody

Well Blog -The New York Times 4-25-16

A recently published book, “70Candles! Women Thriving in Their 8th Decade,” inspired me to take a closer look at how I’m doing as I approach 75 and how I might make the most of the years to come. It would be a good idea for women in my age cohort to do likewise. With a quarter of American women age 65 expected to celebrate their 100th birthday, there could be quite a few years to think about.

It’s not the first time I’ve considered the implications of longevity. When one of my grandsons at age 8 asked, “Grandma, will you still be alive when I get married?” I replied, “I certainly hope so. I want to dance at your wedding.” But I followed up with a suggestion that he marry young!

Still, his innocent query reminded me to continue to pursue a healthy lifestyle of wholesome food, daily exercise and supportive social connections. While there are no guarantees, like many other women now in their 70s, I’ve already outlived both my parents, my mother having died at 49 and my father at 71.

If I have one fear as the years climb, it’s that I won’t be able to fit in all I want to see and do before my time is up, so I always plan activities while I can still do them.

I book cycling and hiking trips to parts of the world I want to visit and schedule visits to distant friends and family to be sure I make them happen. In a most pragmatic moment, I crocheted a gender-neutral blanket for my first great-grandchild, but attached a loving note in case I’m no longer around to give it in person.

Of course, advancing age has taken — and will continue to take — its incremental toll. I often wake up wobbly, my back hates rainy days, and I no longer walk, cycle or swim as fast as I used to. I wear sensible shoes and hold the handrail going up and down stairs.

I know too that, in contrast to the Energizer Bunny life I once led, I now have to husband my resources more carefully. While I’m happy to prepare a dish or two for someone else’s gathering, my energy for and interest in hosting dinner parties have greatly diminished. And though I love to go to the theater, concerts, movies and parties, I also relish spending quiet nights at home with my Havanese, Max, for company.

Jane Giddan and Ellen Cole, the authors of “70Candles!,” do not tout their work as definitive research. Rather, their effort involved scores of posts to an online blog, and eight gatherings in different cities with groups of women in or near their 70s, where participants were encouraged to share their stories and generate research questions that could be explored scientifically in more detail. Such studies are important: As baby boomers age, women in their 70s, already a large group, will represent an increasing proportion of the population, and how to best foster their well-being will be a growing challenge.

What are the most important issues facing these women as they age, and how might society help ease their way into the future? Leading topics the women chose to explore included work and retirement, ageism, coping with functional changes, caretaking, living arrangements, social connections, grandparenting and adjusting to loss and death.

As members of the first generation in which huge numbers of women had careers that defined who they were, deciding when to bow out can be a challenge. Some have no choice, others never want to, and still others like me continue to work part-time. However, sooner or later, most will need to find rewarding activities to fill their now-free time.

The authors reported that “the women seemed to fear retirement before the deed was done, and then to relish their newfound opportunities afterward.” Several warned against rushing into too many volunteer activities, suggesting instead that retirees take time to explore what might be most meaningful and interesting, from taking art classes or music lessons to mentoring students, becoming a docent or starting a new career.

As one woman said, “There are many places where you are needed and can make a difference.” Another said, “It’s more like putting new tires on a car… re-tiring!”

Still, many lamented society’s focus on youthfulness and its failure to value the wisdom and knowledge of elders like themselves. Ageism abounds, they agreed. As one woman wrote, “At my institution, there’s an unstated policy that anyone over 55 won’t get a job. We’re thought to be out of touch with the younger population and assumed to be lacking in the necessary technical skills.” A practicing attorney admitted, “People might not listen to me if they knew I was 71, so I keep it to myself.”

Adjusting to physical changes that accompany advancing years is often tough. Grandchildren, though a great joy to many, can be exhausting, necessitating a restorative nap. Adjustments are needed to reduce the risk of falls and fractures. Better lighting, hearing assists, a reliance on Post-it notes and lists as well as canes and walkers can become essential for safe and effective functioning.

As Ms. Giddan and Ms. Cole wrote, “Our bodies change as we age, even when we eat healthfully, exercise and try to take good care of ourselves. Sight, hearing, bones, joints, balance, mobility, memory, continence, strength and stamina — they will never be what they once were.”

There is also the matter of attending to or accommodating various aches and pains. As one physician reassured a woman of 70, “All my patients your age who are free of pains are dead.” I’m not one to run to the doctor the moment something hurts. Rather, I give it a few weeks — maybe a month — to see if it will go away on its own. Even if fully covered by Medicare, doctor visits cost time and effort, and tests that ensue may have side effects.

Also important as women age are social connections, especially with other women. Whether married, single, widowed or divorced, participants reported that women friends were their greatest source of support and comfort.

Perhaps most important, for men as well as women, is to think positively about aging. A 2002 study by epidemiologists at Yale found that “individuals with more positive self-perceptions of aging, measured up to 23 years earlier, lived 7.5 years longer than those with less positive perceptions.”

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