When I was a child, I was surrounded by older adults. I was a textbook wallflower, always red-faced and shy, so I often sat and listened to their stories. Oftentimes, I wondered how it felt to be like them. Well, here I am! Aging is inevitable. We Boomers just need to accept it. The older I get, the more I realize how many things I took for granted when I was young. Here are 10 of them.
Back in my 40s, I noticed freckles all over my arms. Like tiny, invasive insects, they began to spread. My face even sports an array of freckles! Of course, now I have to contend with age spots, too. Also known as liver spots, these little splotches are common in adults over 50. While there are many creams that promise to turn back the hands of time, I generally let mine do their thing. I may miss the smooth skin of my youth, but freckles and age spots are a part of aging.
I’ve shelled out hundreds of bucks at health clubs, but my body is clearly in a losing battle against gravity. Unfortunately, collagen and elastin—the two keys to firm, youthful skin—tend to slow down production as we age (according to Hilleson-Whipple Clinic). Plus, our muscles also grow weaker. These factors combined can only mean one thing: saggy skin. Now, many people combat this by going under the knife, but that’s not for me. While I miss the physique of my younger years, I’ve decided to just accept all the droops, sags, and loose skin. After all, I’ve earned it!
In my younger years, everyone complimented me on my beautiful, baby blue eyes, framed by long, darkly curled lashes. They even prompted a few Bette Davis comparisons. Talk about flattering! Recently, I was staring at my reflection in the mirror when I noticed my eyelashes aren’t as dark and full as they used to be. Good thing summers are made for dark sunglasses! My eyebrows also suffered at the hands of time. However, with a little bit of ingenuity and an eyebrow pencil, you can do a little something about those! There’s always a reason to be grateful—even for bristly lashes and white brows.
Remember those June Allyson Depend commercials from the 80s? At the time, a lot of us Boomers might’ve grimaced or turned the channel when those commercials came on. Bladder incontinence? Not something a lot of us struggled with at that age. Unfortunately, as we age, we may fall prey to urinary incontinence. Bladder dysfunction is no respecter of persons and affects both men and women. Many factors may be at play, including urinary tract infections, constipation, and nerve damage. If this is something you’re experiencing, don’t suffer in silence. Medications and even surgery can help correct this problem. Next time you see your physician, bring it up to them!
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I used to walk 5 miles every day to stay fit. 5 miles! Even I am amazed at my past self. Current Me still walks. The only difference is, Current Me goes at a much slower pace. When my knees start crackling like Rice Krispies, I don’t bemoan my stiff joints. Instead, I take the time to appreciate the fact that I can still walk. Plus, never underestimate the powers of a good stretch! Studies show that stretching actually allows for greater mobility in the joints and reduces the risk of injury.
I worked in health care and soon discovered that bowels were a popular topic of discussion. And no wonder. It’s estimated that over 40% of older adults suffer from age-related digestive problems every year. In my experience, it was either diarrhea or constipation. Yep, I said it. All the more reason to eat the right foods, drink water, and exercise regularly. However, if you’re experiencing any bathroom issues, contact your physician immediately. You could be experiencing bowel blockage or even irritable bowel syndrome. Take care of your digestive health!
Feet can be a big problem area. Older adults are prone to a myriad of foot problems, including bunions, poor circulation, and corns. While I used to choose shoes for fashion, I now choose them for function. I am incredibly grateful for nail salons. Pedicures keep my feet looking and feeling their best. However, don’t hesitate to see a foot doctor and check for any underlying problems. If corrected, you can improve your quality of life.
Oh, how I miss the days when I wasn’t reliant on Miss Clairol! Worse still, some of those newfangled hair colors do a terrible job of covering gray and white. I have a cosmetology license, so I would know. However, there are many good, new-and-improved products I’d recommended highly. Now, men, don’t worry about hair loss, because bald is now beautiful. Embrace it. Combing your hair in a swoop is not a great look. Plus, hair pieces can be a real pain. Just think—less hair means cooler summers. Embrace the bald spots and embrace the gray. There’s no shame in rocking your natural tresses!
Good dental hygiene and flossing are important. When the dentist tells you to brush your teeth often, don’t ignore their advice! Dentures may look good, but they’re a hassle. Also, gum disease can be prevented as we age. We just have to work hard at keeping healthy as possible. While some things we can’t change and just need to accept, others can be prevented.
When I was younger, I could stay up all night without a problem. Running on sleep fumes barely put a dent in my day. I could take a few sips of coffee, and BOOM—I was ready to carpe some diems. That isn’t the case anymore. I need my seven to eight hours, or I’m dead to the world. While I miss the days when I could stay up all night, I’ve accepted that a good night’s sleep is a part of the aging process. Age has converted this night owl into a morning bird, and that’s okay! After all, that’s life. And I’m prepared to live my life to the fullest—no matter what my sleep schedule looks like.
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Originally published October 30, 2023