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 | 13 Comments

Finding your life’s work…at any age

Nancy, Age 79

I found the class in the Community Education schedule,”Finding Your Life’s Work at Any Age.” I thought. even at my age? This is what I shared with the class at the last session.

We’re supposed to start with where we were at Week 1. I have had a pretty rough time the last few years. My husband was diagnosed with cancer in May 2011. I spent that summer driving him to chemo and radiation treatments, feeding him through a feeding tube, and becoming his nurse (for which I was not suited at all.)

About the same time, the college foundation where I worked was being taken over by a rogue board of directors. I had worked part time for the foundation since my retirement from the college in 2001 and I loved the work.

In November we learned that my husband’s cancer had metastasized and any further treatment was palliative. He wanted to fight, so he started on more debilitating chemo.

Things were getting worse at the foundation. I was so stressed and anxious that I started seeing a counselor. In February, the foundation director reached a settlement with the board and resigned. The staff resigned as well.

My husband started Hospice care and he died in May 2012. I would have given anything to have had my foundation job to keep me busy and distracted from my grief and loneliness. But it was gone and I jumped into another part time job on campus just to get myself out of the house and with people.

So that’s where I was at Week 1. I knew when I signed up that most of the people in the class would be younger than I and that they would be career-focused. I though I might find some rewarding volunteer activity that would be creative and productive.

This 7-week journey has done something entirely different. I have discovered that I really want to write. I have always liked to write and I think I have done it well. When I went back to college and got my BA at age 55, writing was the best part of it. One of our assignments was to write our autobiography. For years I have thought about writing down family stories that I want to pass down to my grandchildren, but never quite made the time to do it, William Zinsser’s book “On Writing Well” is my inspiration. So at Week 7 I have found my life’s work – writing – at any age – 79.

Where am I headed? Zinsser says to write about what you know. My Autobiography, Part 2, is part family history, part memoir, part journal. I don’t know what it will end up to be. I write every day without fail – just 2 or 3 or 4 pages in a composition book I keep on my bedside table. I find there are so many stories already written in my head that it just flows. And some days, it doesn’t.

Posted in 70candles, Family matters, GOALS: Summer 2014 Challenge, Looking ahead, Resilience, Stories, What do we do with our time?, Work life and retirement | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Not like a Boomer

Sandy, Age 71

I am a 71 years old woman and live in a log cabin on a gravel road in Western North Carolina. I designed and built the cabin 12 years ago and was my own contractor. I had to make every decision myself-down to the placement of the last little electrical outlet. It was a blast and I loved every moment of the experience.

The best thing about being 71 is waking up in the morning with a whole big wonderful day that I get to fill up with things I want to do. No job and no particular place to go. The down side, of course, is that it takes me about six times longer to do any and every thing. If you are not careful those hours can slip by in a big hurry.

About 8 or 9 years ago I got lonely. I decided to join an online dating service. I typed in the age bracket I thought would work- (64 to 70.) I typed in the locality- (500 mile radius.) One possibility came up. I extended the age to 90 and the distance to anywhere. Wow! Three possibilities. Not good odds. Yet my dear husband John is right now adding another log to the wood stove. We met just 12 days after I started on the dating site and married five months later. He is the dearest man and every day I am thankful for his companionship.

I am a war baby. I was born in 1943 while my Father served in the Navy in the Pacific arena. I find I have very little in common with baby boomers. I recently told my son and he could not understand how so few years could make a difference. To me, they do, and I sometimes feel I have been caught in the cracks between two different ways of thinking. Anyone else have that feeling?

Posted in 70 from other perspectives: looking forward and looking back, Family matters, Gratitude and Spirituality, Resilience, Where to live, Work life and retirement | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Should I move?

Anonymous, Age 74

Sitting here reading through this site, like what I’m reading and seeing, especially since it’s mostly women my age, yea, you understand.

I’m wondering if anyone else has done what I think I might want to do or feel like I do sometimes, Share some ideas, experiences, wisdom with me if you wouldn’t mind.

Long time divorced, worked long and hard, no career, just a lot of jobs, finally down to 25 hours a month. Just hanging on because it’s a decent job, pays okay, and how lucky am I that they still let me work there though in a limited capacity.

I’m feeling restless. Winter is not by best time, cold, snow, ice, dark, I am mostly shut in for the long winter months. Lost my ability to walk on my own, now using a walker, no complaints, I’m still mobile, get to just about anywhere I want to go on my own, except in the winter. Live north of Chicago. Weather determines when I go out in this season.

While I was busy working, my friends were actively doing life; I had to turn down way too many invitations to have fun because I had to work. Now quite a few of my friends are gone, there will be no long lunches, getting together for this or that. A few have moved to other states, those still married are joined at the hip with hubby.

My limited mobility also affects where I can go, what I can do.
I have 4 children, 8 grand kids, we are in touch by email, text, skpye, and cards. Everyone is really busy I rarely see the family except for 2 or 3 holidays depending on who isn’t busy. The rest of the year I’m pretty much on my own, which is okay.

This past year the kids have been bugging me to move south where it’s warmer, they think I should be out doing more, getting a life; sounds good, but there are a lot of “but’s” running round in my head.

One thing I do know, at 74 it’s now or never.
I do hate winter, even hated it before I could no longer walk on my own, don’t like driving in it either; in fact driving in this state is like driving on the Indie Speedway. Drivers are crazy, and driving behind an older person like me makes them crazier, I go over the speed limit by 5 miles which is never enough. I stay in the right lane, I do take my time when turning left, been hit twice, so extra cautious, me taking my time is sure to bring on a honking fest which only makes me more nervous. I try only to drive between 10 AM and 3 PM.

My income level is slightly above poverty, but I’m comfortable. What do you think about moving at 74? I’d either try FL or Az, maybe even Tx but thinking AZ might be more my style, maybe more affordable.

I would be moving where I would know hardly anyone, 2 very casual friends that live there year round might be of some help but limited since we are not “close” friends and are of different economic levels, and 1 that winters there. When I sell my home I will have some equity to put down on another place, definitely prefer buying to renting, doesn’t have to be big, just close to move in ready, as I wouldn’t have much if any for fixing up.

The thought of moving where you can get out all year round is appealing, no more bundling up then not being able to move. if it’s extra hot, guess you do errands early or late in the day?
I could get a dog, I’ve always wanted a dog, but who wants to take a dog out when it’s -20, dogs don’t even like that kind of weather.

One other weird thought that keeps spinning around the gray matter, I’m obviously aging, when you can’t walk without some kind of aide. I’m facing the fact my days and years are limited; thank goodness I don’t know the “when”.

It seems like a novel idea to do something “wow” like, move away from a life and style that’s the only kind I’ve ever known.

My kids are also talking retirement in the next 10 -15 years, I don’t want them to feel “stuck” having to take care of mom. They wouldn’t complain to me, but I don’t want them fighting among themselves, who does this or that, who might be doing too much or not enough. 3 of them are also talking about retiring to warm weather states.

Another quirky thought, there will be several weddings over the next 10 years, I don’t know if I want to be the “spectacle” at these events. Nothing makes me feel sadder than when I go to an event, see the grandma sitting there dolled up looking uncomfortable, maybe with too much make-up on, not being able to hear well, sometimes not being able to see either, or even unaware or understanding what is going on around her. Yes, it’s wonderful our families care and include us, but I think I’d like to be remembered when I looked better, could get around better, be remembered for my funny remarks, humor, etc. Anyone else ever entertain this thought?

What if I move and I don’t like it, I’d be stuck, but at least I wouldn’t be laying there on my death bed regretting what I didn’t do, and wondering what if I would have.

Any feed back? Anyone else move at this late age to a place where they had no one? How do you feel, would you recommend it, are you glad, did it make your life better or worse? Did anyone end up with less money in their savings which I probably would, how to you deal with it, do you feel selfish for doing something on the “wild” side?

I have thought about renting for awhile in 1 or 2 states but then I have to drive alone where I’ve never been. What will I do when I’m there for a month; can you really tell in a month if that might be the place to land? If I fly, then I have to rent a car, to be honest renting a place and a car, or even air fare, not exactly cheap and once spent the money is gone. How much do I want to spend just on the “deciding” factor? So much information on the internet, it won’t tell me everything but maybe enough?

I even thought about renting for several months every winter, again, have to drive to my destination no doubt alone, or I could hire someone to go with me, fly them back and do the same on the return. Then how do you spend your time when you know no one in the area. I don’t play cards, don’t gamble so not interested in junkets, with a walking disability hard to take tours. I have several hobbies, but would not have any of my tools with me, I don’t know if I could just hang out for 3-4 months at a time. I think I’d feel guilty about wasting so much time doing nothing. With life being on the short side at this age, I want to keep doing as much as I can when ever I can. I love to create, don’t want to stop for several months at a time.

My current home is okay, I had to put some money into the place, some major repair work, I would barely break even but I can’t stay here for 5 more years, goodness I’d be 79, way too old to want to move then unless it was to Assisted Living. I live in a very small complex, never see anyone, neighbors are not friendly, only know the people on both sides, retired couple on one side and the others are younger renters, both say “hi” and that’s it. I love to decorate but have lost interest since I only have company once or twice a year. I don’t think people my age are much into decorating, more into doing other things. Seems we like to go out instead of going from home to home for dinner or visiting.

Suggestions, ideas, comments, is my thinking too off the wall? Too negative?

I hope to contribute a few ideas and suggestions for others,in time.

Posted in Family matters, Financial Challenges, Looking ahead, Our bodies, our health, Resilience, Where to live | Tagged , , , , | 10 Comments

Positive thinking works!

Anonymous, Age 69

Hi there!

At 69 am more childlike than when I was a child. It’s been a conscious thing for me. My childhood was sad for me. I had too much responsibility for a 6 yr old, never any praise and pleased everyone (except myself) til I was mid 40ish. Now I’m not saying my life was all sad, but it wasn’t me. I did what most women did but at an earlier age, you know: education, marriage, children, working, divorce, grandkids, another divorce more grandkids, still working. Suddenly I made a big decision. No more pleasing others, just myself. Instead of pretending to be happy I became happy. You might ask how? It starts with ourselves. Only do what you want. Say NO if that’s how you feel. What do we think will happen if we allow ourselves to be who we are? We’ll be happier with life and accept it. It’s called being responsible for ourselves and our own happiness. No more blaming others, no more guilt. Of course we can be unhappy or sad about some things in our past, but only for a short time, because we only have a short time left. Get out the funny movies and laugh. Dance (even when it hurts), you’ll get some exercise and feel better. As for the news of the world. If it bothers you, either do something about it or turn it off. Positive thinking works, even when you’re having a painful/negative day! I have those days too!

PS Always the optimist, I married again, and this time it’s working for us. We’re responsible young thinking seniors, almost 70 and most of the time having fun with our combined families, but still say NO when appropriate for us.

Posted in About turning 70, Family matters, Looking ahead, Resilience | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Relocation decisions

Pat, Almost 70

Is is great to read the stories of other people who are in the age range I find myself. I am so very fortunate to have health and economic ability to do anything I can dream. I am embarrassed to say that, to date, nothing is pulling me in any direction except to move from the area in which I grew up, left, and returned. Living here is “soul crushing”. I don’t want to make a mistake by relocating and find out it was the wrong thing to do. Back in the day, I was able to successfully complete ANYTHING I began. I think I have allowed myself to become mentally lazy and complacent, taking the easy, comfortable way out even though I am not satisfied with my choices. I am looking for exciting, shiny, bright ideas and activities. I hope I don’t sound “whiney”; my thoughts and concerns are sincere.

Posted in About turning 70, Looking ahead, What do we do with our time?, Where to live | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Negative feelings about being old

Anonymous, Almost 73

I am almost 73…I have the feeling that most comments sent to you are on the positive side….But I have very negative feelings about being old….I dislike that the physical beauty I once had is gone….I dislike that I’m seen as an old person….Sometimes I forget and react to younger people as if I’m still young….But the look in their eyes reminds me that they see me as old and I feel like an idiot….I am well aware of the concept that it’s only what’s inside that counts, not outside….Of course being a good human being inside is of utmost value….But the idea that external beauty doesn’t count is a lie….The horror of it all is that it can only get worse….Unlike many diseases, there is no hope of finding a cure to this one….Plastic surgery can aid somewhat but that has its limitations as well….So often my dreams are such that I look young and socialize with young people as if I were….But I am in con tinual fear that they will find out that I’m really old.

To me it is a constant and awful reminder that I have only so many years to go and that the possiblity of changing my life and making future plans is so limited….For example, many, many years ago my husband and I took a very long and adventurous overland journey across Asia….Naturally we couldn’t see everything….So we said that we would go back at a future time….But now, because of our age, traveling like that is no longer possible.

One thing has changed….I was always terribly curious about what the world would look like in the future and very sad that I wouldn’t be around to see it….But now that curiosity has greatly diminished….Since we now know about the atrocious direction the earth is heading, I feel strangely relieved that I won’t be around when the worst happens.

The one positive thing I can say is that I still have a loving and caring husband….But he too is old and there is no way I would want to live whatever years I have left without him at my side….That is a certainty and it is of some comfort to me to accept that when he goes, I will go along with him.

Posted in 70 from other perspectives: looking forward and looking back, About turning 70, Family matters, Looking ahead, Our bodies, our health, Stories, Traveling | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

8 concerns of women in their 70’s

We heard from women in their 70s here n our blog at 70candles.com and in 70candles discussion groups across the country, from New York to Texas. With decades of life ahead for many of us, it’s a great time to reassess our lives and examine our options.

Here are the topics that matter most to women in their 70s:

1. Work and Retirement: When to retire — when is too soon, too late, just right? What to do with the ocean of unstructured time that lies beyond long and in so many cases satisfying careers? How to stay engaged, feel fulfilled, and participate in life meaningfully?

2. Living Arrangements: Where to live once the family home or current living arrangements are no longer tenable? Stay in place? Move nearer family? Remain in familiar terrain, but smaller quarters? Become involved in a new community? And when might it, if ever, be time for senior living, for assisted living?

3. Ageism: How to react to the attitudes of others — even old people themselves, ourselves — who view old people with pessimism, fear, even disdain? Who patronize? What about the invisibility of old women?

4. Caretaking: Many are taking care of parents, partners or spouses, sometimes even grandchildren, and feel the stress of that responsibility.

5. Social Connections: Above all, women on their 70s do not want to be isolated. We thrive on social connectivity. Some of us continue to have colleagues at work. Others take courses, volunteer their time, participate in local activities, become members of a religious community perhaps for the first time since childhood, and travel with others. Women friends are critical for 70 year olds, but for some it can be challenging to maintain social connections. How to best do this?

6. Functional Changes: Although women in their 70s acknowledge bodily changes and perhaps some memory losses, our tendency seems to be clearly to go forth, regardless. We stay active and avail ourselves of the newest assistive technology — hearing aids, eyeglasses of course, new joints, mobility scooters, and much more. The issue seems mostly to be about timing. Akin to retirement for those of us who work or worked, when is the right time to have that hip replacement, begin to wear hearing aids in both ears, and so on?

7. Grandparenting: There are so many ways to be a grandma, especially when families are spread across the country. Some feel estranged and disconnected, others derive joy from frequent Skyping and periodic visits. Some move across the country to be near their grandchildren or provide baby-sitting services several times a week or more. What is the optimal kind of contact? And what about those of us without grandchildren?

8. Loss and the End of Life: How do we face the loss of dear friends and family members, particularly spouses? And, ultimately, how do we best prepare for the end of our own life?

We’ll visit these topics in more depth in future posts as we share what women in their 70s have told us and taught us.

Digested from our book, coming soon:
70Candles! Women Thriving in Their 8th Decade

What matters most to you?

Jane and Ellen

Posted in About turning 70, Family matters, Looking ahead, Our bodies, our health, Resilience, What do we do with our time?, Where to live, Work life and retirement | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

When we outlive our joints and our senses

Jane, Age 74

We seniors are fortunate to live in an era of robotic advancement.  As we age, and our parts wear out, we can turn to medical science to find replacement joints, organs, and sensory implantations.

Ellen is back to playing tennis with her new hip.  My friend Shelli proudly sports two new knees and a new hip, all in working order…great relief from the pain she experienced before each of those was implanted.  Her husband has recovered from the new anterior incision for hip replacement, looks forward to returning to  his treasured racquetball game.

As my hearing abruptly decreases and my hearing aids strain to accommodate to my current deficits, I read up on cochlear implants.  That technology has come a long way in these last decades.  It does appear that I am outliving my audition, but I treasure my ability to hear, listen, converse, and bathe in environmental sounds. Time to have a chat with the best implant surgeon in town.  I can’t imagine my life without hearing.

Posted in Looking ahead, Our bodies, our health, Resilience, Stories, Technology and contemporary culture | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Confessing ageism

Amy, Age 29

OK my confession,

I must thank you for your inspiration. I however must admit I am no where near the wisdom levels that you have achieved.

I have come across this site by a stroke of luck or just divine intervention. I am a second year college student. At the request of my Gerontology Professor, I am required to write a paper on imagining my self at 70 years of age. I have been reading through the stories, and I find myself, laughing at the variety of life experiences you have all had. However, I also find my self feeling ashamed, for the assignment I just completed for College, I made the 7th generation age group seem like lifeless dolls, collecting dust on a shelf.

I am sorry to say but, I have just written a 13 page paper on the idea of what I envision my life to be like when I turn 70 years old. The medical break down of everything imaginable that I fear will be wrong with me. The fact that I wrote an entire paper on being “too old” to do anything. I envisioned that I will sit on a swing, and pet my dog who would love a nice walk. He will never see one because I would be too sore, to take him, the fact that I will watch my great grandchildren from a chair because my bones will ache too much to play.

I must apologize for my ageism. But I fear that I really had no idea what I was writing about. It is interesting to think that I was able to write a paper about something that I obviously know nothing about.
I was concerned about my 30th Birthday coming up next month. But I suppose you would be the wrong group to complain about that to.

Thank you for this new information that I have found and the inspiration to know that my time is far from over and there is no need to assume that just because we are told life is short does not mean it is over already.

Posted in 70 from other perspectives: looking forward and looking back, Ageism anecdotes, Looking ahead, Our bodies, our health | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Make what’s left of life count

Barbara, Age 70

Today Sept. 12th 2014 is my 70th birthday and I believe finding this web site was one of the gifts God has given me today. I live in Phoenix, AZ and married for 51 years to a great man six months older then I. So far it been a great first day being 70.

My mother lives to be 90, and I am my mothers daughter. Looking for 15 to 20 more good years. In 1992 I had a heaven experience so I am not afraid to die, but now that bugs me. Been fairly healthy most of my life, do have IBS and IC, and I am overweight by about 40 lbs. Very hard to lose weight as many of you know after 50. Had ovarian cancer in 1978, but they got it early and so I live.

I am a pastor and bunker teacher. A Spanish Jew only on my fathers side, but love my Jewish roots. Two grown girls, and three great grandchildren, one girl and two boys. Not much more to say except in the 70’s I found a sign in a junk store that says: “Enjoy what you are!” And I have turned hard to do that.

I want to make what’s left of my life count. Today at lunch I was touched deeply. There was a man and his wife across from us, and he was feeding her because she could not. I watched him, he was kind and loving, and I wanted to do something nice for them, so unknown to them I paid for their lunch. When the bill came, the man looked puzzled, I heard him say the lunch is free

Posted in About turning 70, Family matters, Gratitude and Spirituality, Our bodies, our health | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments