Halloween’s almost here. Ghosts, goblins, fattening candy, black cats running for their lives…so what are we afraid of?
Yep, many of us over 50 are afraid of aging. We don’t like to talk about it. But it’s there…lurking in the closet with our sexy shoes we can’t wear anymore, hiding in the medicine cabinet with the pain relievers and hair growing tonic we don’t want to admit we have, and stalking us when we have to find our glasses to read the small (and sometimes large) print.
The more we shy away from it, the bigger the fear grows. Maybe if we don’t look at it, it will go away. Then again, maybe not.
How about we turn on the light and see what’s really there?
• Fear of losing our minds. Dementia and Alzheimer’s are very real, and not pleasant. I know firsthand what it’s like to watch an aging parent go through this frightening forest so I do not diminish the importance of catching early warning signs and seeking treatment as soon as possible.
Yet, it’s not a good idea to just decide if you’re growing older, your mind won’t be as sharp. Studies show that it’s basically a case of we have too much information in our brains by the time we reach the 60+ years, so some of it is going to fall away, or at least be harder to remember. Science further has shown that older folks do a better job of assessing the “big” picture and arriving at solutions than the younger set.
You’re feeling better already, aren’t you?
• Fear of becoming physically frail. Granted, the years take their tolls on joints, muscles, bones. But if you stay active and incorporate weight training into your exercise regimen, you can build muscle your entire life. You can reduce your chances for major diseases. You can lift your mood and find it easier to get up and get going in the morning.
People who are lifelong fitness buffs have always known this. Science is catching up and telling people don’t give up…get up and do something. Now.
• Fear we’ll be alone. Are you alone now? Would you like more friends? Don’t let fear keep you on the couch. Walk around the block if you can. Drop by an art museum. Volunteer: it’s not only a great way to meet people, it’s been proven to be physically good for you. Join a discussion group at a local library. Mentor a young person in your career.
Having friends of all ages is (once again) not only a good idea for your brain, it’s also a key component of healthy aging. We need each other.
• Fear we will actually look old. Yes sports fans, it happens. Wrinkles. Age spots. Saggy skin. You can lock yourself in the closet. Or wear a gunny sack. Or, you can get out there and be proud you are alive—and every mark on you tells a story. Movie stars get plastic surgery, have a team that spends hours making them look better, and sit in perfectly lit sets so they seem ageless. They aren’t.
Personally, I’d rather use all that energy to hike a trail or laugh at the wrong time. At this age, we should all know and embrace how beauty really is within and wrinkles just show more smiles.
This Halloween, let the kids put on the costumes and scare one another. We can sit back and enjoy it all…and know that we are just fine as we are. Growing older and better…and rocking that wrinkle!
“The fears we don’t face become our limits.”