What is it like to grow old?

Not that I’m a spring chicken myself (mid 30’s)…

It occurs to me that behaviors change in a time-line defined fashion.

When I was younger, I cared more about what other people thought of me, now (a lot) less so, and I believe even what remains, eventually, will cease to matter almost completely.

I also believed, mistakenly, that everyone else had a definite and informed opinion about most things, whereas I didn’t. Again, less so now.

But this isn’t just about headspace, what happens, like in my Grandfathers instance, you happily wear the same cardigan for 30 odd years because it works, and why would you go and buy a new one?

I would get a new one just because I would be sick of the sight of it after ten years or so, but maybe thats just my young uppity nature.

Or how is it that his routine gets to such a fine point that a unsuspected family visitor will turn up and offer to take him out to lunch and he will get annoyed that his pre-organised ham and cheese sandwiches will go begging?

I do like the fact that the older you get, arguably, you have more time to just ‘pass the time’ with people… like the postman fer instance. And you know what you like, definitively. Oh, and retirement sounds nice too :smiley:
So what the hell am I in for?

I guess I’m interested in what people think, or know from experience, about the better aspects of growing older, the young are dread to grow old, but what are the perks? there must be some fairly satisfying elements involved.

It can’t all be rheumatism and early nights.

My grandfather went from being an overbearing flash-tempered angry son of a bitch of a dad (to my mom), to an overbearing and flash-tempered angry son of a bitch with a good heart of a grandfather (to me), to a gentle and lovable baby-talking ridiculous oaf crawling around on the floor and begging for kisses marshmallow of a great-grandad (to my son). His temper declines at a rate equal to his time left on earth. I think older people (when they’re happy, at least) tend to just let stuff go a lot easier, and are less likely to hold grudges. My grandfather would NEVER hold a grudge for transgressions half as bad as the ones he completely disowned three of his siblings for 30 years ago. He held THAT grudge this entire time, and if he ever speaks to them again I’d die of surprise before he dies of congestive heart failure.

So you’ll probably be a more pleasant person as you get older, is what I’m saying. :slight_smile:

You are nearly at the tipping point of making the transition from being the fairly content, early middle-aged, happy-go-lucky guy or gal that you most likely currently are, to being an unremittingly pain-riddled, psychologically damaged, tortured soul, until finally spared by death—or, perhaps the rest of eternity. It appears to be an innate feature in those of us past the tipping point (i.e. post-tippers), that we choose not to divulge the true nature of growing old to you pre-tippers, finding dark humor in your ultimate shock of discovery. So, fasten your seat belt, it’s going to be a bumpy flight. :eek:

…Naw, just kidding—in reality, it’s a little good, a little bad, a lot of mellowing and a new found appreciation for Werther’s Original Hard Candy and sansabelt trousers. :slight_smile:

“What is it like to grow old?”

For one thing, it sure beats the alternative.

69 here with a few minor infirmities handled nicely by Medicare. Still ready to go.

How you perceive your old age will reflect and depend on how you spend your time on the way there. I am not a religious person. I have opined elsewhere on SD that organized religion is superstition organized which has resulted in much pain for the world.

That said, I recommend Jesus’ ideas that the Kingdom is within and everpresent and that the Way there for me is to withhold my judgment of others, which in fact is a judgment on myself.

Seek first the Kingdom.

There will certainly be exceptions, but I think you tend to become less certain that there’s only one right set of opinions, more understanding of human foibles, more willing to take others as they are, not as you think they should be, more willing to enjoy someone’s virtues and excuse his faults. Likewise, meeting the expectations of others seems increasingly less important than meeting your own.

Sex remains interesting, but has long since ceased to be something you’re willing to organize your life around.

The habits you’ve acquired have increasing influence on your health, good and bad. Few in their twenties are much affected by eating a poor diet; few in their sixties are not profoundly affected by such a habit. Likewise with alcohol and tobacco.

The inward life has increasing appeal.

It’s a transition from possibilities to probabilities.

When you’re young, the world is full of possibilities, even though this is based on false illusion and recklessness. Still, who knows what doors are actually unlocked and which are locked or open inot blind alleys?

When you’re old, you’ve tried a lot of the doors, and your mind is working the probabilities of that experience. You see how the things that actually did happen were inevitably made to happen, not all the different ways they could have gone.

So, basically, my answer is that when you get old, you try to get people to think you’re some wise sage by retailing bullshit aphorisms like “It’s a transition from possibilities to probabilities.” :smiley:

62-year-old checking in.

You remember having been proven wrong often enough in the past that you’re no longer so dead-certain that you’re right all of the time. Not that you’ll let anyone else know that…

Your body starts showing signs of wear and tear and doesn’t heal as quickly as it used to. And what’s scary is that you can see how much better you’re holding up than the folks you know who are ten years older than you.

I retired a couple of years ago, and am having a grand time basically goofing off.

I’m suffering from TMB disease myself (too many birthdays) but I don’t feel much older than when I was 30. I’ve become much more patient, more thoughtful and more willing to walk away from things that I’d have become involved in before. All in all, growing older isn’t that bad.

Everything either dries up or leaks.

I’m 63 but my doctor says I don’t look it, act it, and am in pretty good shape for my age. A few random observations:

Even more than before, I see things in a much larger perspective. A lot of things others get upset about, I don’t give a damn. This comes from seeing and experiencing my fair share of really bad stuff and realizing that compared to death and disability getting stuck in traffic or not having just the right garments or home accessories is trivial.

I am still working and plan do do so for several years (thanks, economic downturn that trashed my 401K plan). I have a good work ethic. However, I don’t worry about advancing my career, such as it is. The downer part is that there are a lot of options no longer open to me. It was very, very difficult to find a new job when I was laid off a few years ago. In fact, impossible in my previous technology-based field. Nobody wants an old lady in their IT department, they want a young whippersnapper. There is no point in training for a new career when you aren’t going to have many years to use that training.

Things start to wear out and suffer from accumulated trauma. I have not been able to run or do any high-impact activities since a car accident some years back that mashed up my knee. Also I have spinal arthritis. Sometimes on a nice breezy day I would love to just run, but I physically am unable to do so. Even the eyes don’t work as well. I went to an eye doctor because of difficulties seeing while driving home from work. Turns out as you age even the muscles you use to focus your eyes take longer to work properly. Just old age. Yuck. I could go on at length about other

This all seems very negative. However, I am generally more relaxed and happy than I was when younger, mostly because of the first point I made. Stuff that used to stress me out no longer do. I find joy in the simple things in life even more than I did when younger. Also, I now have a granddaughter (yay!!) which I had been hoping for for years ‘n’ years.

I feel as though I have a certain amount of accumulated knowledge and perspective that goes along with the aches and pains. On the other hand I do from time to time wonder how many springtimes I’ll get to see.

I’m not old, mid 50’s but I have found myself looking backwards on my life, more than I look forward in anticipation.

Perhaps because I am not where I had hoped to be at this age, I seemed to have peaked early and see only decline ahead.

I’m normally a cheery sort of person…bugger.

At 69:

I feel just like a young man with stuff wrong with him.

What don’t hurt don’t work - well THAT still works, thank goodness

It’s enough for me.

I’m 64, and if it weren’t for the physical ailments (and lack of health insurance) I wouldn’t mind it at all. It’s actually a relief to not have to worry about the things I worried about 30 years ago. As others have mentioned I’m much more able to stand back and look at the big picture now, rather than taking everything personally.

But health problems never go away. They’re cumulative, so every new problem is just added onto the old ones. I find myself looking forward to turning 65 in 8 months, so I can afford much-needed cataract surgery and knee surgery . . . and help paying for my prescriptions and doctor visits. It’s very strange to actually look forward to another birthday.

And one absolute blessing: what keeps me young is my partner, who is 20 years younger.

And the only parts that don’t hurt are numb.

Can’t really answer the OP’s question. Although I’m 82, inside I still think of myself as around 35 or so. That is until I glance in a mirror and wonder who that old fart is.

Yeah, I went from being a Type A (actually a Type AA) to being more phlegmatic and accepting of other ways of life. Best motto I ever learned was “Don’t sweat the little things.”

Still very active, mountain climbing most days or hiking in the desert, but the damn recovery time keeps getting longer and longer.

My advice to all of you is, “Don’t get old.”

61 here.

You Know You’re Getting Old When…

Your joints are more accurate than the National Weather Service.
Your investment in health insurance is finally beginning to pay off.
Your back goes out more than you do.
The twinkle in your eye is only the reflection of the sun on your bifocals.
You feel like the morning after when you haven't been anywhere the night before.
You finally got your head together, now your body is falling apart.
Your supply of brain cells is finally down to a manageable size.
You wake up with that morning-after feeling and you didn't do anything the night before.
You don't care where your wife goes, just so you don't have to go along.
It takes twice as long to look half as good.
Many of your co-workers were born the same year that you got your last promotion.
People call at 9 PM and ask, "Did I wake you?"
You can live without sex but not without glasses.
The clothes you've put away until they come back in style... have come back in style.  Probably more than once.
You look forward to a dull evening.
Your mind makes contracts your body can't keep.
The pharmacist has become your new best friend.
There's nothing left to learn the hard way.
You come to the conclusion that your worst enemy is gravity.
You start video taping daytime game shows.
You quit trying to hold your stomach in, no matter who walks into the room.
Your idea of a night out is sitting on the patio.
You look for your glasses for half-an-hour, then find they've been on your head all the time.
You wake up, looking like your driver's license picture.
Happy hour is a nap.
You begin every other sentence with, "Nowadays..."
You constantly talk about the price of gasoline.
You don't remember when your wild oats turned to shredded wheat.
You sing along with the elevator music.
You are proud of your lawn mower.
You wonder how you could be over the hill when you don't remember being on top of it.
Getting lucky means you find your car in the parking lot.
The little gray-haired lady you help across the street is your wife.
Your idea of weight lifting is standing up.
Your secrets are safe with your friends because they can't remember them either.
Your ears are hairier than your head.
You have a party and the neighbors don't even realize it.
It takes longer to rest than it did to get tired.
You talk about "good grass" and you're referring to someone's lawn.
The end of your tie doesn't come anywhere near the top of your pants.
You give up all your bad habits and you still don't feel good.
Your childhood toys are now in a museum.
You can't remember the last time you laid on the floor to watch television.
You confuse having a clear conscience with having a bad memory.
You frequently find yourself telling people what a loaf of bread USED to cost.
You know all the answers, but nobody asks you the questions.
You enjoy hearing about other people's operations.
You got cable for the weather channel. Old Folks MTV!
Your new easy chair has more options than your car.
Your little black book only contains names ending in M.D.
Everything hurts and what doesn't hurt, doesn't work.
You find yourself beginning to like accordion music.
You have too much room in the house and not enough in the medicine cabinet.
You get into a heated argument about pension plans.
"Getting a little action" means you don't need to take a laxative.
Conversations with people your own age often turn into "dueling ailments."
You buy a compass for the dash of your car.
You take a metal detector to the beach.
The car that you bought brand new becomes an antique.
You are cautioned to slow down by the doctor instead of by the police.
You realize that caution is the only thing you care to exercise.
You don't remember being absentminded.
You have more patience; but actually, it's just that you don't care any more.
Your memory is shorter and your complaining is longer.
Your drugs of preference are now vitamins.
You tip more and carry less.
You read more and remember less.
You get propositioned by AARP.
Younger women start opening doors for you.
You begin to become invisible in the dating and mating game.
The highway patrol sigh or shake their heads but don't give you a ticket.
You scout for a warmer place to spend the long, cold winters.
You are no longer 'promising'.
Younger men ask you for advice.
You work on your short game.
Youthful injuries return with a vengeance.
Youthful indiscretions harden into bad habits.
You shop for health insurance the way you once shopped for a new car.
Your medical expenses go up 50%.
A 'late night' now ends at 11 pm.
You learn where your prostrate is.
You develop a knack for wearing hats. 
    Almost everything hurts, and what doesn't hurt doesn't work right.

I forgot to mention one thing earlier:

The parts that are supposed to stay flexible are getting stiff, and the parts that are supposed to stay stiff are getting flexible. :slight_smile:

You realize that your yesterdays (far) outnumber your tomorows.
At first, you can play game with the arithmetic (well, the first 18 years donb’t count, 'cause I wasn’t really me yet…
Then you look at your realistic life expectancy and try to add a few more, 'cause… they cured TB! that’ll be good for another… I quit smoking! All those old farts smoked their entire lives! Yea - taht’s it - add 20 years cause you quit…

Eventually, you quit worrying - I don’t need to spend extra to get a top-of-the-line roof, now do I?

As to age/maturity, I came up with this:
Adulthood comes in 3 stages:

Stage 1
You figure out:

  1. everything dies.
  2. you are a thing
    This happens around 16 or so

Stage 2
You become aware of the time left - aka “seeing a speck on the horizon and realizing it is your own, personal stop sign” (I originally typed that as “stop sigh” - I kind of like that better)

Stage 3
Everybody in your family who is supposed to die before you (esp parents) have died.
You are the one with the toes at the cliff, hoping/fearing whatever comes next

No, we don’t all start looking up gods to whom to pray - I personally find it incrediably sad that some people spend 95% of their lives believing in oblivion, and then waste the last 5% trying to repudiate their live-long belief.
The Christian Crucifiction legend tells of 2 others - of those 2, who would you rather have covering your back?

On another positive note, there are now a lot of things I don’t have to do now if I don’t feel like it. Also my husband, who is even older than I am, has similarly mellowed out – a lot. We are more comfortable with almost everything. A problem arises and we talk about it and I already know how he’s going to respond and my response is the same. We don’t agree on some things – politics, for example – but the rough edges are gone.

Did I mention I now have a one-month-old granddaughter? That is just the best. I get to cuddle her and hold her but if she needs changing or is fretful I can give her back to her mommy and daddy. I am SO looking forward to spending more time with her. My daughter is going back to work in a few weeks, and I will get to spend Saturdays with the baby, as both parents work Saturdays. Hooray! Of course I will have to fend off the rest of the family who will all be saying, “No, it’s MY turn today!”