April 24, 2014

I am About To Turn 65: Am I Age Appropriate?

The usual definition of something being age appropriate involves a decision whether certain activities or media (like movies or video games) may be deemed suitable to someone of a certain age. Often used by parents to help filter what their children are exposed to, a PG movie, for example, may be a bit too intense for a 7 year old, but entirely age appropriate for a child who is 10 or 11.

Beginning to date is another obvious example of an adult making a decision, based on the young person's maturity level, of when unsupervised time together at a dance or movie is appropriate. Being a dad of two daughters, I know my answer was when they turned 30, but that didn't go over too well (just kidding!).

So, what does any of this have to do with a satisfying retirement? A lot, I contend. I would like to suggest that we miss out of all sorts of experiences and fun, growth and opportunities by not doing something because it isn't "age appropriate" to a 65 year old man or 75 year old woman, or whatever.

We may be concerned what others might think. Maybe we are afraid of injury. Perhaps the financial cost seems too high. We would have to expend too much energy, either mentally or physically.

Frankly, at our age we should be very unconcerned about what others think. If someone is still trying to impress the neighbors with a huge house, expensive sports car, or vacations in the south of France, then this message will shoot right over that person's head. Having these things isn't wrong, unless the motivation is to make one look "appropriately" well off in the eyes of others.

We tend to associate people our age with words like settled, stable, predictable, or safe. How many retired, or almost retired folks, would you describe as adventurous, devil-may-care, unpredictable, or daring? How many are gutsy?

Too few, I would guess, and that is a shame. When else in our short time on earth are we as free to push against the restraints, take a risk on a new lifestyle, or try something and not worry if we fall flat on our face.

If we fail at something, so what? If the move to the mountains in Spain doesn't work, come home. If the karate lessons leave you unfulfilled, sell the white outfit to someone else. If trying to salsa dance leaves your hips out of whack, take up line dancing.

There are several folks who read Satisfying Retirement on a regular basis who I would classify as being unconcerned about being "age appropriate" in the eyes of others. Whether due to a high energy level and willingness to try everything while still physically able, or leaving a comfortable home in the suburbs to live their dream in the mountains, these people are taking their best shot. Another woman uprooted herself and moved 1,000 miles from her home to be closer to family and try on a new lifestyle. Still another took classes and tests to fulfill a dream of becoming certified as a professional mediator. Yet another is moving from a big city to a seaside town that has a strong pull on her and her husband, a pull that must be acknowledged.

My book, Living a Satisfying Retirement, is filled with stories of people, just like you and me, who took a leap of faith toward a new life. Were they being "age appropriate?" I don't know. But, I do know they didn't care. With more of our life behind us rather than in front of us, what is heaven's name are we waiting for?

Oh, and in the interest of full disclosure, this post is directed squarely at me. I can write about it, but do I live it? Not to the degree I wish I did.

Note: I will be away from a computer until Thursday afternoon on a short RV  getaway. I will respond to any comments when I am able.


38 comments:

  1. I am one of those people in your book so I thought I would chime in on something I have "discovered" since then. It seems I have taken your first words here as my current theme in life. We all must realize that we will die and that time is sooner for me rather than later. So, I am starting to live by the phrase "If not now, when?" Don't put things off till tomorrow because you just might not have a tomorrow.

    As you say I don't worry so much about what others think of my words or actions as I used to. It is my life I am living not theirs. I now do things that make me happy and a strong part of that is to help others less fortunate than myself. I am so thankful that I have the opportunity to do that.

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    1. Betty and I just spent two days RVing with Mike and Tamara Reddy. They are an amazing couple that inspire me to push myself every time I am with them. "If not now, when?" could be their entire approach to life.

      Not molding my life to other's expectations should become my new focus. I have found a new energy and enthusiasm for life through our RV travels. I want to ride that horse until it is exhausted and I am ready to try something else. If others wonder why, let them!

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  2. A week ago I broke my collar bone out doing what I love, mountain biking. I'm 50 and probably should have taken the safe path vs launching myself off a rock and ending up over the handlebars . Still, when the blood is pumping I forget my age and the risks. When I get back on the bike ( about 2 months I'm told) I may be a little more risk averse but I will still be out there.

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    1. I watch mountain bikers fly by me on trails that I have trouble hiking. I always wonder how many have your (unfortunate) experience.

      Get back on the bike, but a bit more carefully!

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    2. This, absolutely! Only we kind of hide behind grandkids to do great "childish" stuff. We just came back from the Bahamas with our grandson and did many of the water slides and river rides at our resort. We can't resist, we want to have fun, too. Husband, who is 71, actually got pretty banged up on one of them.

      This summer we go to Catalina Island and will do the zip line. And don't get me started on dragging them around Disneyland so we can do all the rides. Of course the expression on our faces is always "we're just doing this for the kids."

      We're forever six years old in our hearts.

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  3. Very inspiring post! And it provides some definite food for thought, since I tend to be one of those "cautious" types.

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    1. So do I. Often I write a post to kick me in the behind, or to get encouragement or guidance from readers. This post certainly fits that goal.

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  4. When I was a kid, my mother forced me to go to dancing school. I hated it. I was self-conscious, shy around girls, awkward and sweaty. Then, in my 60s, my wife forced me to take up dancing lessons. And now I love it! Why? Because it's age-appropriate -- while I'm still plenty awkward, I am no longer self-conscious and therefore not too sweaty or shy. Also, it's good exercise; makes for a fun evening; and you meet some great people. The only thing ... dancing can sometimes be hard on aging knees.

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    1. I have tried dancing lessons several times because Betty likes it, but I just am too self-conscious with my inability to follow basic steps to continue. That is kind of silly, isn't it. The other people aren't watching me. I wish i could accept that reality.

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  5. I'm looking forward to turning 65 next year. Mostly because I can save a bundle on health care. ;) I've rarely acted my age, much to the dismay of my children I think. It is only a number, and as Katherine Hepburn said, so eloquently, "If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun!" amen to that!
    Hope you have a fun RV trip!
    b

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    1. Katharine was a great role model in this regard, as was Mae West (!) in a very different way.

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  6. I think most of the time older people can get by with more craziness than the "proper middle aged" folks. We're in our second childhood and loving it. I am starting a songwriting class and I have never written a song in my life. And I have started Tai Chi and I just pretend that I look as smooth and agile as my teacher. And speaking of "pretending", 30 years ago I took tennis lessons. One day the instructor said "Pretend you are on TV and you are a top notch player." I suddenly improved, if only temporarily. The mind does amazing things. But there are always a few critics. Line dancing at my gym is my favorite exercise and it is now done to all kinds of music. I had an older lady say to me once that she didn't think older women should be suggestive when they danced. I said "was I being suggestive?". She said "you know, moving your hips". This was a Latin dance! You do need to keep in mind, though, that your body is not like it was 20 years ago. I am paying a price at the moment for having a little too much fun at a workout class. Oh my aching back! Good post. I am looking forward to seeing what new things everyone else is trying.

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    1. Great, inspirational list of "craziness", Judy. I have had several folks suggest I consider Tai Chi for my posture, core strength, and flexibility. I have rented a few DVDs but lose steam. I would probably be better off in a class so I could be inspired by others.

      Moving your hips while dancing to Latin music is kind of the point !

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  7. My wife and I love motorcycling at 60 years of age, and have friends who do so in their 80s. Is it age appropriate? Absolutely, and we could care what others think, since oftentimes they are likely jealous that they are unable/unwilling to do the same.

    No one should ever be concerned about what others think, as long as their activities are not borderline psychotic. Enjoy life. As you stated, most have worked hard to get to this stage, and deserve the time and ability to be yourself, and do whatever floats your boat. BTW, reading stories on others like in your last book, is something I always look forward to the most. Keep it coming, Bob, whether in a followon book or in this blog. Thanks, my friend.

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    1. When Betty and I make it to Tennessee on one of our RV trips, we will not join you and Deb on motorcycles...just saying. But I know you love it. My next door neighbor (59) and his wife (55) jump on their bike and think nothing of riding to Lake Powell and back on a weekend. They love it.

      I am trying to get inspired to write another book, I just can't come up with a focus or topic that excites me. But, I keep thinking about it.

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  8. I feel like I don't know what is "age appropriate" for 62! I don't think about my age very often, at least not in terms of what I should or should not be doing, or even how I present myself. That said, unavoidable physical changes to the body occasionally remind me I'm not as young as I used to be. Over-use injuries seem to be just waiting for my next physical adventure! So I try to keep some of my energy level in check; just enough to prevent injury, but not enough to really slow me down.

    We went on a bike ride with our niece and her fiancé and I think they were a bit surprised with our speed and our mileage. I feel young in my mind and in my soul. I like to think that this kind of attitude will serve us well a we age. Our health is our most precious commodity; if we take care of ourselves both physically and mentally, we have a better chance at a satisfying life.

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    1. I think of my age only when I realize I am receiving Social Security, soon will be on Medicare, and qualify for all senior discounts. Otherwise, it really isn't part of my mindset.

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  9. For me, the hard part seems to be figuring out where my passion lies. That did not change when I crossed the bridge into retirement. I do not worry about whether I am acting in "age appropriate" ways, but at the same time, I do not think that I need to "try everything" or move to some exotic locale simply to demonstrate that I am not a slave to appropriateness. I am ready to be adventurous, unpredictable and daring, without a care for what others may think, but I am still working on finding out what I want to do when I grow up.

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    1. I agree 100% with your last sentence. So many things interest me, but I need to do a better job of committing to acting on some of those thoughts.

      I wrote a post a few weeks ago about not waiting for a "passion" to rise to the surface, just do things and those that are a particularly good match to you will become evident. Makes sense, I think.

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  10. I was really happy to come across this post and the book sounds fantastic. It's not often I find a blog post for those who have reached this age demographic. I usually stumble upon posts for caregivers and kids who now have to take care of their parents. As I'm getting older I often find myself wondering about how I will deal with my "twilight" years. I fear for the burden it will place on my loved ones, and that fear stems mostly from the unknown. I recently read a book called Voice of Experience: Stories About Health Care and the Elderly by a husband and wife who are a Doctor and RN respectively. http://www.voiceofexperiencebrody.com/

    It shares case studies and professional advice on how to deal with the later years of an ailing loved one. It has taken a great deal of the fear out of entering this stage of my life as I now feel more prepared and aware. It is an easy read and very informative, I highly recommend it.

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    1. Thanks for the recommendation, Deborah. I will check out the link.

      This blog is approaching its 4th anniversary, with a goal of providing information and helpful thoughts on all parts of satisfying retirement. I am glad you found your way here!

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  11. I am screwing up my courage to be seen in public on an adult trike--yikes. At our 55 plus AZ community, all the women are zipping around on their traditional bikes. I fell off a traditional bike a few years back, breaking my arm in such a manner that I needed a new shoulder, and my balance is wonky, so I am looking into the trikes. The cool-looking reclining type sit too low to the ground for my bad knees.

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    1. You go, Denise. Just getting back on wheels (even if three instead of two) is a courageous step. If everyone else has traditional bikes, then you will be unique, and probably attract others to follow suit.

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    2. I agree,Denise, get your mojo on, I bet your neighbors will even be jealous!! Just staying active is so important.. with an injury such as yours, anyone would understand and give you credit for getting back out there! :-)

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  12. When we were in our early 20's we were young hippies and took lots of chances, had our son, and didn't really know yet what we wanted for our future (beyond each other and our wonderful l kid!) Then, in our later 20's we were in school, then into our 30's,40's, 50's, we were oh so "appropriately" working hard,serving others, and being a bit too "careful" if you ask me! Ken always wanted a motorcycle, so a year ago he just did it.I encouraged him. (We're 60 now.) Risky? Yes. But if not now, when?? If not US, WHO?? I am feeling more open to adventure since we retired (very recently) and I don't care what anyone thinks! We're going to follow our bliss!! I love hearing how RV-ing has re -energized you and Betty and has you thinking in new directions.We only get so many years on this earth.. let's just go for it!!!! Age ??? a state of mind......... and by the way, WHAT THE HECK DOES "APPROPRIATE" mean, anyway??????

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    1. According to the dictionary, "appropriate" means suitable or proper in the circumstances. That used to mean dressing up for church, treating the elderly with respect, and speaking when spoken to.

      Now, for us, it means doing what you want to do and realize postponing it is not wise. As long as others are not negatively affected, any risks have been assessed and accepted, and no laws are being broken...then appropriate is what we determine it to be!

      I am so happy you and Ken are enjoying your early stages of retirement so much. Hopefully, Betty and I will come north to see you the middle of next month.

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  13. "Appropriate" certainly has changed. A recent guest speaker at my church began by observing, "I was told before coming here it was OK to dress down." She was happy. So were several hundred comfortably dressed folks in the audience.

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    1. In the case of church or a public gathering appropriate means showing respect for your surrounding and the sensitivity of others. Too often today's response is "whatever feels good to me."

      Dressing down can mean no tie for men or not having to wear a dress for women. That is just fine. I don't think it means torn jeans and a t-shirt for a rock band.

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  14. I was invited to a church service this Sunday while visiting here in the valley--I have no "church clothes" with me, am embarrassed to wear jeans to a service.But my friend assures me it is perfectly "appropriate." I have some decent shoes and a short jacket.. but I do recall the days when"Church" meant being well dressed!! AND A HAT ON (Catholic church in the early days, you did not enter church with your head uncovered if you were a woman!)

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    1. I occasionally wear newer jeans to church (in cooler weather), but I must admit I am uncomfortable in doing so. While I am glad I don't need a sports coat when it is 100 degrees, I still believe I should dress a little nicer than I do during the week. As I noted in the comment above, it comes down to respect.

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  15. If it wasn't for the physical decline I would say that age is a state of mind. I'm feeling young in my mind and I will work at keeping well physically. Appropriate? I do believe that's open to interpretation. I believe in doing life so life doesn't do me.

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    1. I saw a study over the weekend that says the typical 65 year old thinks of him or herself as 55. That is probably about right, though 65 is still a real number that I will pass in a few weeks and must make peace with that reality.

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  16. Bob,
    My wife and I decided to travel so at age 70 we started spending two months each year in places we wanted to see. We hoard frequent flier miles, live modestly in an apartment enjoying the local lifestyle and get to know the places we visit. It is nowhere as expensive as a tour or cruise and much more satisfying.

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    1. Is this a change in your approach, Ralph? I seem to remember comments from a few years ago and posts on your old blog that travel wasn't a hot button for you (or your wife).....or maybe I just misremembered.

      In any case, I like the two month approach. 30 days in one location really does allow you to slip into a different mindset and see a local area in an in-depth way. I just clicked over to your blog...I'll have to become a regular reader.

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  17. All posts and replies are very interesting. One thing I did when I retired at 62 was to take my watch off. 15 years later I have not missed it and find I enjoy going out no matter what the occasion.

    Nowdays I see people of all ages with a cell phone in their hand or pocket. I carry one to use as a PHONE for emergencies. Otherwise the cell phone is used to make and receive calls when I am at home. OK, so maybe I am limiting myself but why not enjoy what is around you without placing constraints on it. In places where you can't use a cell phone it is a moot point anyway.

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    1. Like you I stopped wearing a watch about 10 years ago. When the battery died I just didn't replace it. The cell phone is available when I want to know the time.

      I will tell you that my move to a smartphone a few years ago has been a mixed blessing. I find it very helpful in many ways throughout the day. However, I also find myself pulling it out of my pocket way too often during the day to check on email or read the news or just do something with it. It can become very addictive.

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