I try to be upbeat about aging, and as I’ve said before, I’ve been relatively lucky in my own life, but I’m going to go a little bit dark this week.
It was Cher who, when asked what was good about aging said, “I think it sucks.” Let’s be real. While there are some good things about aging (such as still being here), as my now-dead older cousin once said, “Young is better.”
Young can do the things that I can no longer dream of doing, and that I miss. And the things that I will never do, such as the fact that my body cannot handle long travel. I always had jet lag problems, so I don’t dare test the waters with a long plane flight. Therefore, I will never see China or Japan, Scandinavia or Bali, which saddens me. I can’t even think of going on a cruise because of balance and inner ear problems. I had to leave a houseboat party at the first sign of rocking. I will never water ski again, or play tennis.
I have wonky knees and a problematic back. I get tired in the afternoon. I mean, nap kind of tired, and not just 20 minute “power naps” either. I will probably never wake up without pain in my back and hips, will never again be “the kid who’d try anything” (to quote my brother). Luckily, I never wanted to climb a mountain, because I certainly will never do that. I always adored the ocean, but I stick to the Long Island Sound or a pool now because the ocean waves have become too much for me. This last is a real jolt. I was a jolly wave rider all my life. Every year I go to a batting range to see if I can still hit a softball. Yes, I feel self-conscious being the only granny out there, but I need to do it for my self-esteem. And yes, I can still do it. Slow pitch only.
I’d love to play softball for an older team, but I can’t run at all because of my knees. I need a grab bar in the shower so I don’t topple and fall out on my head. All this is demoralizing. Slow bites out of the blithe abilities of youth. There are people my age much worse off than I am, and some better. But aside from having my darling grandchildren, I can’t find much to extoll about getting old.
In my women’s group, the stories are piling up about friends who had strokes, friends who died suddenly, friends who had a backache and found out it was cancer. And on and on. One loss after another, either to one’s own self or to loved ones, friends and acquaintances. I do know some people with a very positive view of aging. There are two women in my group in their late 80’s and just glorying in their days of having no responsibilities except to themselves. Their husbands are gone, their children long grown (a few are on Medicare!). They enjoy every day. I guess my brain wiring is different from theirs, but they are great role models. And also very healthy.
Tomorrow I will go to the lovely garden near my daughter’s house and smell the flowers. It’s always an upper when these thoughts get me down.
Also: PSS Circle of Care Caregiver Services is a program of PSS, a multi-service agency founded in 1962. It now encompasses eight senior centers, two senior and intergenerational residences and many other services, including Coming of Age NYC which helps 50+ New Yorkers improve their lives. PSS Circle of Care was recently awarded $7.5 million as part of Governor Cuomo’s Alzheimer’s Caregiver Support Initiative. Only two other New York City agencies received this funding. The governor’s office says that “the initiative seeks to develop programs that support the family members who care for the nearly 380,000 New Yorkers living with Alzheimer’s Disease and other dementias” and to help with the burdens placed upon the informal caregivers in New York State.
The money will be used for such things as care consultations, educational resources, support groups and respite services. PSS Executive Director Rimas Jasin said that the grant is a wonderful opportunity to provide PSS’s brand of support to those with Alzheimer’s and other dementias. The grant will allow PSS to add at least 20 new full-time staff. To reach PSS, visit www. pssusa.org.