The dawning of acceptance

Jocelin, Age 70

What a relief!

Thinking back I began to worry in January about my 70th birthday, August 2017. I did not want to leave my 60’s. I loved the 60’s. I had started to live my dreams of traveling with my camera and becoming a proficient photographer. But I was turning 70.

As the year progressed the undercurrent continued pulling me under. To celebrate or to weep or neither. Eventually I decided to celebrate which, in retrospect was fun and the right thing to do – but behind the smiles my life was fragmenting.

I began behaving as I have read other 70 years olds have written. My moods changed to dark, I blamed loss as theft, and there was theft, mistakes were made, I took matters personally, I had several non-serious car incidents, life was becoming intolerable. Worse, I found myself behaving a-typically, doing what I would previously never have contemplated – all because I felt trapped, snared between chronology and not feeling or looking ‘my age’.

Then came the pit, the bottom, the wall, the smash, the fragmentation and the tears … if anything ever ran more true it was the axiom: what you resist persists.

Somewhere something penetrated the funk – ‘the internet – read – there must be others like you’ – and there was 70candles. I read with relief, I read for interest, I sought to identify, I looked for a model – there wasn’t. I am my own model – I have to be. If 70candles doesn’t have one for me, it’s up to me to become my own. And in that dawning came something else.

Acceptance. It was the only way out and it came from a place deep within.
I felt, as I imagine a butterfly must feel as it wriggles out of the chrysalis to spread its glorious wings for the first time. The fears for my future diminished and disappeared. The financial problems swung around to become solutions. Concerns for my animals, (three dogs) vanished. My physical disposition changed as well. Where I had been concerned about falling – I became sure on my feet returning to the gym to once again feel the exhilaration of walking the treadmill. Like the Rubicon cube, my life suddenly clicked – from here on I feel I have the energy to manage.

I found Christiane Northrup’s work Goddesses never Age – that together with 70candles provided the insights for me to do my work. For me to take over and create my role model, my beliefs for going forward, the framework for my attitudes and goals for the next thirty years.

I do not fit in to the general society. I am single, without a partner with no immediate family in my city. The latter is not particularly people-centered. One has to drive everywhere. The thought of living in a community, home or care centre is not one I will contemplate.

My vision for my future is in the making and one I feel sure I’ll continue to design, shape and grow as I move forward inspired by the stories posted on this blog.

Thank you to the 70candles community.

Posted in 70candles, About turning 70, Aging, Attitudes about aging, Looking ahead, What do we do with our time?, Where to live | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Positive Aging: Adding Life to Your Years

See the Vimeo recording of this 2018 presentation by Ellen Cole at the William K. Sanford Town Library in Albany N.Y.
April 3, 2018

Ellen Cole, PhD, will share the results of her 8-year research project on aging. She will present what women say about their lives, the challenges and the joys, and conclude with what we can learn about thriving in one’s 8th decade and beyond. She will discuss her most recent books, Retiring but Not Shy: Feminist Psychologists Create their Post-Careers (with Mary Gergen) and 70 Candles: Women Thriving in their Eighth Decade (with Jane Giddan).

Ellen is currently a professor of psychology at the Sage Colleges, where she teaches master’s level graduate students who are becoming licensed mental health counselors. She has co-edited the journal Women & Therapy, and authored and edited many books.

[If the following link doesn’t work for you, type the URL into your own web address bar, or look at the first Comment below.
It does work there.]

Https://Vimeo.com/266517349

Posted in 70candles, Adaptations and accommodations as we age, Ageism anecdotes, Aging, Attitudes about aging, Caretaking, Goals ahead, HUMOR, Looking ahead, Older women connecting, Resilience, Work life and retirement | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Is your city age friendly?

There’s an initiative afoot to make conscious changes in towns and cities so they better fit the needs of their older populations. Amazingly, by 2050 more than 60% of the world’s major cities will be over the age of 65.

In light of our extended longevity, activist gerontologist Dr. Bill Thomas calls the stage of life after adulthood, Elderhood, and applauds its rich potential. Average life span in the U.S continues to increase. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, by 2050 the number of Americans aged 65 and older is projected to be 88.5 million, more than double its population of 40.2 million in 2010. More than half of those born since 2000 are expected to live to 100 or more.

Time is of the essence, for the issues that confront cities today effect the well-being of older citizens everywhere. Frequently identified problems area limited adequate affordable housing, constricting transportation options, sparse social opportunities, and minimal access to community culture and amenities.

Age UK, a British organization, in conjunction with the U.N. World Health Organization (WHO), has launched an international Age Friendly Cities initiative. Dr. James Goodwin, head of research for Age UK announced that Santa Clara County in Northern California is the first to have all fifteen of its cities sign aboard this initiative; each city assessing needs and making its own plans for appropriate improvements.

A great concern is isolation and loneliness. According to Dr. Goodwin, feeling lonely more than 2/3 of the time is as detrimental to one’s health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Encouraging social connections is critical for health and well-being.

Age friendly cities work to enhance infrastructure and services so older citizens can continue to participate in their communities. Dr. Goodwin envisions walkable environments, with curb cuts to eliminate steps, seating along streets and roads for those who need rest breaks, and availability of handy public restrooms.These would encourage people to get out and walk more, providing exercise and more social encounters for improved physical and mental health.

Some cities have created pop-up social groups, and encourage volunteer drivers to help people get to community events and activities…like volunteering.

Affordable housing options would expand. An new innovation by Dr. Bill Thomas, is a design called Minka homes – small, units, easily assembled with prefabricated parts that fit together LEGO-style. These could be arranged in planned communities as in the experimental prototype soon be constructed on the campus of Southern Illinois University.

Look around your community. Let your city council know about what’s missing, and encourage them to join this movement. Involvement in the Age Friendly Cities initiative takes the will of a city council and the signature of the mayor.
Age UK can help with some guidance.

To learn more about this, listen to the podcast of
Dr. Goodwin’s presentation to the San Francisco Commonwealth Club, July 14, 2017. Just type Age-Friendly Cities and the Future of Aging into the search box at commonwealthclub.org, and think about your town.

We elders are a powerful force and can have an impact, even lead the changes we want to see happen. Let us know here at 70Candles.com what your community looks like for older adults.

What do you think needs changing in your area to improve life there for you and other older citizens?

Jane and Ellen

Posted in 70candles, Adaptations and accommodations as we age, Where to live | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Apologies for technical problems

There’s been a glitch in our subscribers email distribution.
Notices about new postings are not being received by our more than 600 subscribers.

This is very frustrating, and we are working with GoDaddy to uncover the cause and to find a solution.

We hope, in the meantime, you will all check into 70Candles.com from time to time, to read and respond to entries.

Hoping for resolution of this technical dilemma soon,
Jane and Ellen

Posted in 70candles, Networking, Technology and contemporary culture | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Turning 78: Adaptations and accommodations

Jane, July 3, 2018

Another birthday….rather surprising to hear the number 78. I realize I have just outlived my mother who died at age 77. As always, I’m looking forward to the fireworks ahead, my special birthday treat.

I’ve enjoyed today’s phone, FaceTime and online conversations with friends spread around the country….feeling fortunate to share celebration with nearby family….glad to be here and feeling well enough.

I wrote in this blog eight years ago, about then turning 70.

Now some observations on turning 78:

Since downsizing and moving to the Dallas-Ft Worth Area fourteen years ago, to be near our family, I have learned my way around town and have developed new friendships. A city-girl at heart, I continue to enjoy exploring the endless possibilities in the DFW metroplex…now sharing discoveries with our teen-age grandchildren. I have a variety of activities that keep me as busy as I care to be, many of which keep me involved with other people…of all ages.

I greatly enjoy curating 70candles.com, and am inspired by the richness of the topics and conversations both currently and in our archives. I’m amazed at the geographical reach around the world of our blog. Be assured we will keep it going, even into our 80s. The masthead has been updated to say it’s for “women in their 70s…and beyond.”

I work on writing projects with my husband, Norman, and publish our work on Amazon’s CreateSpace…always a technical challenge for me…but oh, the satisfaction when I overcome each computer obstacle.

We both exercise several times a week, stay abreast of news and the distressing political scene, and stay in touch with our nearby children and three grandchildren.

I’ve declared this my summer of art, and will take a watercolor class, along with a friend. I’ve dipped in and out of art classes through the years, and find them engaging and fun.

I’ve enjoyed reading with my two book groups, but also choosing books of my own. Am laughing out loud at David Sedaris’ poignant but funny new book of short stories, right now.

I’ve found two friends who are happy to join me for evening concerts, and dance performances downtown. My husband is less inclined to attend those events, but is delighted that I have others to go with.

My recent endeavors over the last few years have included knitting scarves and hats upon request, learning to play ukulele and getting my granddaughter interested in playing, and, a new addition, visiting friends in rehab and nursing homes, with hope of bringing distraction, comfort and cheer.
I try to participate as a citizen in the political realm and have marched and signed petitions for causes that matter to me.

Adaptations and accommodations that come with aging have recently come into focus:

First, as my hearing declines, I find myself alerting and informing those I encounter of my need for volume, clarity and visibility. I use those wonderful closed caption devices at the movies and auditory amplifiers at the theatre. I spread the word to others I know who need that enhancement, that these devices are readily available. I need to have my hearing aids checked annually, and I return for tweaking if the settings are off target in volume or in specific frequencies. It really makes a difference when the tuning is right. I’m not shy about asking a restaurant to turn down their music while I’m there.

I’ve discovered the pleasure of a short afternoon nap, especially if I’ve awakened very early and have been to a rigorous exercise class.

My Saturday morning hour-long walk with a good friend has become shorter, she tells me as she consults her Fitbit. I seem to have slowed my pace somewhat, probably because of minor hip and Achilles’ tendon issues, although our conversation has maintained its breadth and depth. As we walk, I notice that interesting details on the sidewalk, are now closer than they used to be…as my height has gradually been reduced by 2 3/4 inches!

I sit more than I used to…reading more books, sometimes knitting…watching the news and Netflix with my husband…pleasant sitting.

I noticed when I took our three grandchildren downtown to see the Lion King, and for lunch at the theater, I welcomed their help. “That’s why you have three grandchildren,” one said when I thanked her for picking up something I dropped. I enjoyed having my grandson drive us down there, rather than having to drive myself.

Although I still do a shoulder stand and a plow, I don’t turn upside down anymore…not since my recovery from a most unpleasant bout of Ménière’s disease that left me dizzy for too many months. Thankfully that problem eventually resolved.

Things I no longer do, but remember fondly are skiing, ice skating, rollerblading, tennis and even bike riding. I’m concerned I wouldn’t hear traffic behind me were I on a bike. I noticed at a modern dance performance the other night I was an enthralled observer, but remembered when I used to empathically actually feel each dance movement as I watched such events.

We’ve stopped traveling great distances. Now I watch and listen as others fly in and out of the country and the state, and I enjoy descriptions of their adventures. We’ve had our share of foreign exploration. Enjoyable now to watch the food travelers on TV as they venture far and wide….and Norman has learned some fantastic cooking ideas as a bonus.

We’ve made improvements in our home in the name of safety and fall prevention. A bar to hold onto in the shower, another by the steps from our garage to our back entrance, and at the front steps, two sturdy high gloss black enamel steel handrails. They look great and create a cozy stoop where I sometimes sit and read.

We still drive, and can’t quite imagine that privilege will ever cease, but know that eventually we might need to be transported by others. My husband who is several years older than I, and I, monitor each other whenever we’re on the road to be sure we’re still up to the task.

We live in a multi-generational neighborhood where we are clearly the oldest residents. People know us and we have neighbors we can shout out to in a pinch. When I left both the garage door and car door open the other morning, as I ran back inside to get my water bottle for exercise class, the young woman next door who caught sight of that, called my cell phone to be sure everything was okay. That was comforting. I like my role on the Architectural Control Committee of the HOA, as it keeps me involved in the workings of the community.

Oh…And I’ve decided to let my hair become white after years of coloring it. I kinda like it, though many have warned that I will become invisible and be dismissed by younger people…Not yet so far…

Time has flown since our move from Ohio to Dallas to be near our family. Our oldest grandson who was then five, is about to be a Sophomore in college. Since I can never remember (among other things) exactly what year we moved, I use his age to calculate our length of time here. We’ve always measured his height against my body. He is now nearly six feet tall and we laugh as he has to bend down to hug me.

All in all, I feel grateful and loved, and as I see more illness and death around me, thankful for still being here, to enjoy the good life I have.

Posted in 70candles, Adaptations and accommodations as we age, Aging, Attitudes about aging, Family matters, Men aging, Resilience, What we're reading, Where to live | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Transition

Patricia, Age 81 1/2

Hi everyone,
I am probably the oldest of this group, and when I turned 70 years decided to leave my hair WHITE!! This was unconceivable to my friends (female) since I am chilean, my country is definitely managed by males, women ask their husbands, “should I?“ or “may I…?” Well I didn’t even consider that posibility.

So let me warn you of the effects of white hair (at least here):

YOU INSTANTLY BECOME INVISIBLE
YOU ALSO TURN TO BE INAUDIBLE
WHEN YOU SIT TO GET A CUP OF COFFEE, WAITERS (female and male) do not see you, they serve somebody in the table next to you….same thing at the supermarket. You stand in the cue for ELDERS, PREGNANT WOMEN,INVALIDS AND in front of you is a girl of 25 years. So I touched her shoulder, pointed at the sign and asked: to which of theses conditions you belong, I can see you are not an invalid, neither are you old, that leaves us with pregnancy, unless it happened in the last hour, you certainly do not belong in this cue, so we had a good laugh …

One good thing to happen is that somebody may give you their seat in the subway, open a door when they see me pushing hard and getting no where.

And when I want to get a cup of coffee or the bill, I wave a paper napkin, that certainly gets every bodys attention,

Regards to all
from Maitencillo, Chile

Patricia

Posted in 70candles, Ageism anecdotes, Attitudes about aging, HUMOR | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Summertime at almost 78

Emily, Almost 78

I am up in Walton in my little house enjoying the
beauty of the area, and my friends up here. After mowing
the grass and doing violence to some invasive weeds, I sat
outside reading a book I might have read before, but that
will be determined later. It is called The Interestings, by Meg Wolitzer, about six people (NYers) who met at a summer camp. The first thirty-five pages were about the
camp and their meeting.

I am going to Chautauqua tomorrow for a week, always a wonderful experience, and I picked up the book at the library this AM mainly because there it was facing front, and someone said it was good.

I discovered yesterday that almost 78 might be too old to paint rooms. I started, and after two hours, had to lie down for a while. Went back to it and stopped when I was scarily tired. I was somewhat surprised. I slept for a while, then fed myself
determinedly, and then decided to ignore the project til
after next week, lest I give up the ghost before it
happens. Isn’t good sense supposed to come with all those candles?
Emily

Posted in 70candles, Adaptations and accommodations as we age, Aging, Attitudes about aging, Our bodies, our health, What do we do with our time?, What we're reading | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Gathering memories and stories

Sandy, Age 74

I was born in Rochester, NY – the granddaughter of four Italian Catholic immigrants. At age 4 months, I became ill with polio which resulted in paralysis of my lower right leg. At 18 months of age, I went to a convalescent hospital for 6 months of rehabilitation following an experimental surgery. In those days the medical community determined that it was best for hospitalized children not to see their families since those visits invariably caused trauma to the children when the families left them again after “visiting hours”. I am told my parents were able to come for one hour on Sunday and watch me through a one-way mirror but I never saw them until I was returned to my home. (Just a note on the quaint practices of medicine in the 1940’s!)

I went to Catholic school and in the summers to Rotary Sunshine Camp for handicapped kids. When I was 8, my father was killed and my mother injured in a car accident. My brother and I were cared for by various aunts and uncles on both sides of the family while our mother recovered. After a year our mother remarried and our newly remade nuclear family moved to CA. leaving aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents and traditions behind. Alas, Mother missed her family and step-father would do anything for Mother so we moved back to Rochester. But winter is hard in Rochester and Mother was having none of that so we moved back to CA, a different city. Alas, Mother missed the family so we moved back to Rochester but what do you know…. Winter was still hard in NY so for the last time we moved back again to CA.! By this time I was a teenager and I soon fell head over heels in love. We married when I was 18, had our beautiful baby girl when I was 19. I had postponed going to Nursing School and loved being a wife and mother. My husband left me for another woman when I was pregnant with our third child and after this child was born, I went to Nursing School.
My second marriage was to a very good man who loved my children and me. He was a great Dad to our 4 children but the marriage began to unravel and after 10 years we parted on good terms. By this time I had worked and gone to school enough to earn an A.A. degree in Nursing and a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing and a certificate in Neonatal Nurse Practice. I wanted a Master’s degree. So I moved to Washington with my three sons to go to school again. In Graduate School I met and fell in love with the woman with whom I have shared the last 35 years of my life. This was a total shock to me as I had never had any sense at all of being attracted to women as lovers. The 1980’s were a challenging time to be in a same-sex relationship, especially if you had minor children but I was fortunate in that both ex-husbands and the children themselves adjusted and supported our relationship.

My Nursing career focused on premature infants and their families and I truly loved the work. I always considered it a privilege to share the lives of these babies and families in their hardest challenges and greatest joys. Unfortunately, the late effects of polio cut short my career and I had to retire at age 52. By this time, however, I had amazing, wonderful grandchildren! They filled me with complete joy and purpose – especially when they were very young. As they grew older and no longer needed a babysitter or had time for things I could do with them, I began to really suffer from depression. I did some volunteer work in our local hospital and while I loved being in the hospital environment, I simply couldn’t manage physically.
After leaving the volunteer position, I decided that what I needed was to care for something. We got a puppy and she became my life-line. I was once again needed and forced to smile and laugh a hundred times a day as I watched the antics of this little bundle of fur.

My wife continued to work until recently and we are now adjusting to both being retired and being at different life stages (she is 12 years younger than I) and different physical abilities. She is getting in some well-deserved travel with friends and my adult children. The little bundle of fur became a 7 year old Schnoodle who goes to Agility class with my wife and is learning to be a Therapy Dog with me. I have become a quilter and a gatherer of memories and stories. And I still love being a homemaker, a wife and a mother.

Posted in 70candles, Caretaking, Family matters, Grandparenting, Our bodies, our health, Share your story, Work life and retirement | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Life’s a trip!

Monica, Age 71

This is the first time I’ve been on a blog. Since turning 70 last year, my health dramatically changed. In October, I fell and ended up with 2 injured shoulders. I am currently recuperating from rotator cuff surgery on my right shoulder and will need a shoulder replacement on the left side. Also, I found out I have 3 herniated discs in my lower back and one compound fracture just above them. Before I had the rotator cuff surgery, I had to have an EKG. From this, it was discovered that I have atrial fibrillation. This past week, I was diagnosed with sleep apnea which may be causing the a-fib.

I am stunned by all of this, especially, the heart stuff. This growing old is taking its toll on me. Facing mortality is one thing; being disabled is quite another. They both keep me fully anxious! Oddly, I am in a pretty good space, otherwise. I am happily married, work 3 days a week, love to read , cook and travel.

When I was young (and younger), I was a mischief maker, an imp, a trouble maker. I was the kid parents didn’t want their kids to play with. I was never disrespectful; I was full of an anxious energy. I was expelled from 2 high schools and one college. When the 60’s hit, I fell into the whole hippie scene. To this day, I smoke pot every night and drink (mostly wine) a few times a week.

My medical issues have put a crimp on traveling, but I am learning how to accommodate them. For example, I mail my suitcase to the address of where I will be staying. I also request a wheelchair at each airport. These two changes have made it doable for me to visit my family and friends back East. I am so grateful for them!

Also, I am leasing a new car that has an automatic transmission! I cannot tell you how switching from a manual to an automatic has improved my day-to-day life. One other item – a placard for disabled drivers! Parking close to my workplace has resulted in my being in so much less pain.

My exercise routine is pitiable. I do my physical therapy exercises and go to P/T twice a week. To support my back, I need to use my abs for moving my torso, instead of relying on back and leg muscles.

Because I don’t feel sick (no fever, sore throat, etc.), and when I sit, the pain decreases significantly to the point of being easily manageable, I feel like I am taking advantage of someone or thing.

Another thing that I’ve become insecure about is appearance. It may seem shallow, but I love clothes and shoes, especially sandals and boots. Thankfully, there are so many shoe makers that make attractive, trendy comfortable shoes. They cost more, but they allow me to feel stylish and comfortable. Brands I buy are Born, Easy Spirit, Sofft, Clarks, etc. I like some height (I’m now 5/2″) but don’t wear anything over 2 inches high. Clothes are more problematic for me. What does a short, slightly plump 70+ year old wear???? I still love jean, leggings, cropped pants, skirts that hit just below the knee to midi length, summer dresses that are below the knee, preferably midi-length. Maxi dresses make me look like a fire hydrant (Johnny Pump in Brooklyn!).

It’s the wanting to enjoy each and every day of my life while facing mortality when that thought creeps into my mind. Every decade has it’s trials and tribulations and I am as ill-prepared for the 70’s as I’ve been for all the other decades I’ve had the good fortune to live. Ageing forces one to be humble.

My marriage is in a really good place. During my recovery, my husband has taken such wonderful care of me. We grow closer every day and laugh a lot. As with any marriage that has lasted 26+ years, we’ve had our life challenges – job losses, unemployment, cancer, deaths of loved ones. We seem to come out the other end closer and more in love, if that can be ;possible.

I am close with my family, which is a large one. I have a few extremely close friends from high school and college, and a few more great friendships have developed over the ensuing years.

When I look back over my life, I realize that I have everything I ever wanted – to live in California, to be with my husband and to have had a rewarding, exciting career. More money would be nice – I could travel in style!

Throughout my life, I hope I have helped others to achieve their goals, to get through a difficult time, to offer a shoulder upon which to cry, feel joy and glee, and to laugh….often.

Years ago, I went through a very difficult time in my life and I promised myself that I would try to help anyone else who I encountered who was going through something similar. I hope I have been observant enough to see a need in others where I could reach out to help.

Many of my friends and family members regret things they’ve done in the past, mainly life-altering decisions or choices that became life altering. I’ve searched deep into my heart and soul and I do not find I have regrets. Yet, I am filled with constant anxiety. Life is a TRIP!

Posted in 70candles, Attitudes about aging, Caretaking, Family matters, Our bodies, our health, Resilience | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Greetings from Chile!

Patricia, Age 81

Hello, I am an 81-year-old woman, in good health (with a few exceptions, normal like car with a lot of miles).
Married, twice, two sons, two grandchildren. I live in Chile, by the sea side, a small place called Maitencillo, 60 kms from Valparaiso…this place is probably more famous.

I have two dogs, a male and a female, one black one white. Worked my whole life and lived in Santiago, and owned this house where we spent our weekends.

Traveled a lot, being to the USA several times, I have a brother who lives there. In general, looking back, I have enjoyed my life, laughed a lot, something I still do.
I love reading, watch the sea side while we have a cup of coffee on Saturdays,(coffee shops only open on weekends). This place is flooded with people on long weekends and summer, and the peace returns.

Wish you all lots of fun, smiles, laughter and friedship, from a very very far away place.
Patricia

Posted in 70candles, Aging, Attitudes about aging, Share your story, What do we do with our time?, Where to live | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments