(The pic isn’t me – I don’t garden!)

Aging. I am struggling with it – not going to lie. I turned 61 this past week. It wasn’t a milestone birthday, and I’m certainly not ready for the old folks home just yet, nevertheless it’s been a struggle. Anyone else struggling with getting older? 

There are only two choices, right? Continue aging or die. Dying is not an option, as far as I am concerned. I’m not ready to cash it in for a one way ticket to eternity. I will reevaluate in another twenty-five years, or so.

I have heard elders say they are invisible to the younger generation. Have you noticed? Apparently, I hit the age of invisibility. Not that I mind, terribly, however, I notice more and more the younger generation seem so full of themselves. I was taught to respect my elders – I guess I expected the same courtesy. When I materialize momentarily, the younger generation believes they can refer to me as honey or sweetie. First of all, I am not their honey or sweetie, and let’s leave ma’am out as well. When I look in the mirror I no longer see young and hip, but I don’t see Aunt Bea either! To counter that and land somewhere in between, I bought a pair of bib overalls. Nothing says 70s like bib overalls – am I right? They are comfy and adorable, and I intend to wear them often.

I work as a nurse and part of my job is educating new employees on the aging process since we provide care and services to the elderly in the community. Oddly, or maybe not so oddly, I am older than some of the elderly we serve. Anyway, I put the presentation together, made it as fun as possible, and usually preface the presentation with “This presentation is about the normal aging process and some common disorders and diseases of the elderly. In other words, the presentation is about my life”. The younger employees don’t get it – the older ones chuckle. Yesterday, the new employee was a nice gentleman who happened to be 61 as well. After delivering my opening line he said, “When I visited my doctor the other day, he summed up everything you’re going to say in one sentence – he told me I was getting old”. Yep, that covers it. Thank you for tuning in, and welcome aboard!

Throughout, the gentleman asked questions, told me I explained things well that he had wondered about, and shared some stories from his life. I prefer interactive discussions with new employees. The presentation is approximately an hour in length, and if I get no feedback from the audience, I tire quickly of the sound of my voice. At the end of the presentation he said I should write a book on the aging process. The material presented helped him to understand what he was experiencing and he appreciated the information. I thanked him for the endorsement, and told him my bucket list included publishing a book, however, it would not be about the aging process. Who in the world would actually read something like that? Isn’t it enough to live it everyday? It did get the old wheels turning in my brain though. Could I make it informative and entertaining at the same time? 

He asked a curious question. He wanted to know if the older folks from the 60s and 70s were more likely to use illicit substances to treat their ailments vs. other age groups. I knew the answer, and not because I partake myself because I don’t, nor would I know how to go about obtaining anything illicit. Among other things, I am a nerd at heart and watched a program on the elderly and substance use. At the time the program was filmed, those in their mid to late 50s were the fastest growing population using marijuana to lessen chronic pain. It made sense. Not only did they represent the generation who came of age in the 60s and 70s, but many were unable to afford medications prescribed for their pain if they were even able to afford a doctor visit. Many in our service also use marijuana to cope with their chronic pain and prefer it over the prescribed medications paid for as part of the services we provide. I am not opposed. Cancer patients use it too, to control nausea and pain. Marijuana is a plant found in nature and keeps whatever ails at bay, so why not?

I guess I need to turn my aging frown upside down and board the gratitude train. After all, I woke up on the right side of the ground today, and I am wearing a pair of bib overalls…..

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