Worried about aging – thinking 70 is “ancient”

Sandy, Almost 70

I will turn 70 in 10 days. Having a very difficult time emotionally with it, even though I have no ongoing health problems, a good boyfriend (5 years younger), adequate money, two great kids, a lovely apt, and a great life in general.

I feel guilty about having this emotional problem, since I have such a good life, but the fact is that in this society, 70 is considered ancient. I guess the main problem is that I consider it ancient.

I think we Boomers will change that perception since a lot of us are much better educated, in much better health, and much more active at these ages than previous generations. But I am the first year of the Boomers, so I can’t benefit from any change in society’s perceptions, and my own perceptions are based on what my grandmothers and women of my Mother’s generation were like. There probably are a lot of 70 year olds out there now who are like I want to be, but I don’t know it because they don’t walk around with a sign giving their age.

I look about 10 years younger than my age, keep my weight under control, and am very active, which results in most of my friends (who are almost all younger than I am) not being able to understand how hard this birthday is for me. My boyfriend either. They just say Oh, but you don’t look or act 70, so don’t worry about it. But I do. In my 60s, I could convince
myself that I was a stone’s throw from middle age. But 70 is old.

One thing that has helped is that I have made two new friends recently who are 70, and they look fine. They have health problems, but work around them, and are very active. They make me feel good because they are living proof that one does not have to look like a hag at 70. I am hoping to find a 70candles
discussion group near me (Philadelphia area) so I can meet more women like this.

I also have cut out magazine photos of well-known people who are older than I am and who are still attractive and vigorous. Like Jane Fonda. I will never look like her, but it just goes
to show that decrepitude is not inevitable with old age. I also found the photo of Jane that she put on her “Spirit of 76” post very encouraging. She looks great, and so is another counter to
my image of what older women look like.

I also find that getting out in nature raises my mood. Especially in areas with lots of greenery. I read recently that it is something about the greenery giving off negative ions that raises the mood.

And just finding the 70Candles book and this blog site has raised my spirits. And I haven’t even read the book yet!

This entry was posted in 70candles, About turning 70, Looking ahead, Networking, Our bodies, our health and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Worried about aging – thinking 70 is “ancient”

  1. Blog Mavens says:

    Sandy,

    Welcome to our blog!

    You’ve come to the right place. We hope you find inspiration from the many women who have joined the 70Candles conversation.

    They tell us that this decade is, above all, what we make of it.
    Jane and Ellen

  2. joy says:

    i thought i was reading my story. i do exactly what you do with the magazine pictures of women who age well. i am 70 my boyfriend of 5 yrs is 5 yrs younger than me, not in good health, and i feel now that i want to enjoy my life after taking care of parents brother and uncle who have died. i am feeling depressed because now it seems like my life is on hold again, to take care of my friend. i am also young looking and people cant believe when i say i am 70. i am trying to stay healthy, want to move closer to my daughter and grandchildre and feel now plans on hold.
    thanks for your comment, made me feel good.

  3. Sandy says:

    Joy-

    Thank you for writing. It is so good to know there is at least one other person out there similar to me. If you are in the Philadelphia metropolitan area, I would love to get together. My contact info is listed in the Gatherings tab on this site, under the Philadelhia suburbs contact.

    I can certainly understand your frustration with having to take care of your boyfriend now. Maybe it would be good to start finding community resources to relieve you now and also in the future if his condition progresses and the demands on you become even greaer.

    Adult Day Care programs are one option. Also “respite care” programs in many assisted living communities and nursing homes, which provide overnight care for one or several nights. Your county Area Agency on Aging office (Google that followed by your county name) can help you find these places, and help pay for them if that is an issue. Hopefully your boyfriend’s family could provide some physical and/or financial help also.

    I always remember what my Mother said when she was in her 80s and my stepfather had had a stroke and she was at first caring for him at home (catheter changes and the like). He did not have as much money as she did, so part of the reason she was doing the care herself was so he did not have to spend his money. Then she realized that all her caregving was just going to result in leaving more money to his kids. She then started arranging for a lot of his care in the home using his money, and she got a lot of her life back.

    I think we women have to protect ourselves against the financial devastation thar can result from late life illness of our mate. Those of us who are not married to our mate have it a little easier in that regard since we have no legal obligations to pay his medical or care bills, but I think even we have to guard against our concern for him resulting in depletion of our physical or financial resources to care for a man in old age, and ruin our enjoyment of our later years. (I think one good thing to ask ourselves is if he would be doing the same for us if the tables were turned.)

    My boyfriend understands that if he starts to need a lot of care, that I, being 5 years older than he is, will not be able or willing to provide much of it, and that his money will be used to get help in the home, or if appropriate in a facility, and when his money runs out, he will go on Medicaid (as about 60% of nursing home residents eventually do in PA). My money (more than his) will be used for my care and as an inheritance for my children. These arrangements may not be appropriate for everyone, but they work for us, and make me feel comfortable that I will not be financially or physically devastated should my boyfriend start needing care later.

    I hope you can get the financial and physical help you need to not let your boyfriend’s health negatively affect you at this stage of life or later.
    You deserve it.

    Sandy

  4. Jane says:

    Hi, Sandy,
    I will turn 70 in 2017, but am already feeling the “weight” of that number and am trying to get my mind around how to hold it. I, too, look pretty good, very thin, skin is not too saggy, overall very healthy (until I’m not), but feeling a bit of loss, especially since my college roommate died recently and I always assumed she would outlive our little roommate quartet. I keep “busy” but I miss working and keep looking for part time employment again as a teacher, which I was for 30 years. I don’t like being busy just to be busy, if that makes any sense.

    One thing that I want to start to reframe is the whole issue of what I look like and to learn to embrace (more than tolerate) not looking as I did, learning to love that older woman’s face that looks back at me from the mirror. It seems to me it should be enough to be basically healthy, intellectually sharp-ish, having good friends in my life in a regular way, being delighted by the beauty in my backyard, loving watching my grandchildren move into teenage life and so on. I am not who I was, and I need to let her go. Does that make any sense? It doesn’t feel so easy and I am so happy to see this blog, as I know I am not alone.

  5. Sandy says:

    Jane-

    You are definitely not alone in your feelings.

    I also think it that the appearance issue is important,
    because it can enhance our self-esteem,
    which can get battered by society’s view of
    older women.
    So we need to feel good about how we look
    at these ages. Fortunately, with exercise,
    a good healthy eating plan, some extra attention
    to our clothes and makeup- with those, I think
    most of us Boomers will look fine. So many women
    at this age, though, seem to put little or no effort into the
    whole matter.

    A good book by a former model who wrote it at about
    75 and which includes some emphasis on the
    appearance issue is Getting Over Growing Older
    by Brigitte Nioche.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *