Tuesday, August 30, 2016

How Not to Act Old: Do's and Don'ts

I was sitting in a movie theatre recently, the lights were down, the movie had begun and I was just getting ready to relax into a nice movie experience with my Starbucks latte I had smuggled in, when out of the darkness I, and the entire movie audience, heard "I CAN'T SEE!!  IT'S TOO DARK!" and two people entered the theatre, hanging onto each other, stumbling around in the dark with popcorn flying all over the place.  As they came up the stairs, the woman was groping all around for a seat - "I CAN'T SEE, I CAN'T SEE - and almost sat on my lap.   I didn't need to have laser vision to know that these were

 
OLD PEOPLE!
 
 

As we age, many of us certainly don't want to look old.  I tackled that issue a couple of years ago in my blog post, "How Not To Look Old."  However, I think it's even more important to not ACT old. 

Acting old is less about age and more about acting in a way that makes people shake their heads and think, "Shoot me if I ever act like that when I get old!"  For some reason when we get old, we sometimes fall victim to our aches and pains, our disappointments, our facing that final chapter and just give up. Some of us regress to a child-like, clueless stage where we think it's OK to do whatever we want and to hell with everyone else.  While that can be liberating to a certain extent, I disagree with that approach.  I think that when we get old, we need to be even more aware of our behavior in order to, not only be a good example to the younger generation, but to avoid being incredibly annoying to everyone else.

So since I myself am old, have some experience with some of these issues and don't want to repeat them and certainly do not want to turn into that stereotypical old person yelling at kids to get off my lawn, I have been thinking about this a lot (because I am retired and have lots of time to think about stuff like this). 

I thought I would share with my fellow seniors some things I have come up with, some do's and don'ts, if you will, on how to avoid making a spectacle of yourself as you fall into old age.

And for those of you who do not consider yourselves old, well, this is also for you because you will join us at some point.

So without further ado, for your enjoyment and possible enlightenment, some Do's and Don'ts about how NOT to act old.

 



DON'TS:


  • Don't talk loudly in the movie theatre even if you can't see.
Getting back to that incident in the movie theatre, first of all, to avoid having to talk loudly about not being able to see in a darkened theatre, DON'T arrive late.  If you can't see in the dark, make sure you get to the movie theatre before the lights go down.  But should you not make it in time, DON'T announce to the entire theatre that you can't see.  Stumble around quietly...and DON'T sit on my lap!  And during the movie, DON'T make comments about how the lead character is treating her daughter or critique her clothes or exclaim out loud about how adorable that baby is.  Even if you whisper, WE CAN HEAR YOU! You are giving all of us old folks a bad name!





  • Don't wait until you get up to the checker at the grocery story to fish around for your wallet or your check book. 

First of all, I want to ask.  What have you been doing this whole time you were waiting in line?  Reading "The National Enquirer?"  Your wallet should be out and if you are writing a check, which, I hate to tell you, pegs you as an old person right there because no one writes checks at the grocery story anymore, your checkbook should be in hand.  Better yet, use your debit card or pay cash.  And speaking of cash, DON'T count out exact change if you have to fumble around in a teeny-tiny change purse looking for it while I and my fellow grocery shoppers tap our feet behind you.  We are all thinking that we are glad we aren't THAT old!




  • Don't embarrass your kids on Facebook. 
If you are lucky enough to be "Friends" with your kids on Facebook, DON'T make personal comments that are better made in private or get into arguments on Facebook with your kids or their friends. In fact, be careful about most things you say on Facebook because most things will embarrass your kids.  Remember your comments are not just seen by your friends but all of your kids' friends and you don't want your kids making excuses for you like, "Don't mind her, she's OLD and doesn't know what she's talking about."





  • Don't show your ignorance about computers. 
 

It's one thing to choose not to use computers or the Internet, if you don't want to, but if you don't know anything about computers, don't flaunt it.  For example, throwing up your hands and saying to people "I don't know anything about those computers," as if your lack of knowledge is a badge of honor bestowed upon you for avoiding something dangerous, not only shows everyone you are old but kind of stupid.  Also DON'T repeat urban legends you have heard from other people who also don't know anything about computers.  Just being on a computer will not empty your bank account or take you unwillingly to porn sites (you have to want to go there). 

Not learning how to use a computer is your choice, but not learning means you are not taking advantage of all of the good things the Internet has to offer and refusing to be a part of the 21st century. You are never too old to learn something new so why not take some classes and learn how to use the computer?  I think a little birdie told me there are free classes available at the library. 

Likewise, speaking of Facebook, yes, Facebook is probably evil to a certain extent, but it also allows you to stay in touch with long-lost friends and your family members who might be flung all over the world. Joining Facebook is not going to instantly expose you to all kinds of bad people or steal your soul, as I have heard some old folks say. There are privacy settings you can put in place to protect you. If you don't feel you can figure that out, have your grandkids help you. 






  • Don't tell total strangers off. 

There is this misconception that when you get old, it's OK to say whatever you want. Yes, there is injustice in life and things you don't approve of, but walking up to a total stranger to give him a lecture about smoking too close to a store's entrance or correcting someone's grammar or interjecting yourself into an overheard conversation you don't approve of instantly marks you as OLD.  That is the equivalent of Clint Eastwood's "Get off my lawn! ("Gran Torino").  Nothing ages you more than anger.

Hubby had an incident at the airport recently.  An old man was ahead of me in the TSA Precheck line at security.  He was fussing around with his stuff so he told me to go ahead of him. Hubby had his bag up already on the conveyor belt so he also moved ahead.  I guess it was OK for me to go ahead but not Hubby because the man felt the need to say to Hubby, "Cheaters never get ahead."  What?  Huh?  Then later when Hubby was gathering up his stuff, the old guy felt the need to come over to him as he walked by and say "Cheaters never win!"  I wonder if he felt better about himself after that. 

All I thought was what a sad old curmudgeon and that's what people will think about you if you feel the urge to vent.




  • Don't fall victim to a scam. 
Scams are now rampant and many of them are aimed at old people.  It's one thing BEING old.  You don't have to add to that by ACTING old and being naïve  enough to fall for some of these scams that are out there.  That not only marks you as old, old, old, but kind of dumb. 

For example, if you are alone and looking for love online, do you really think that an attractive, model-handsome 40-year-old who contacts you out of the blue wants to date a 70-year-old?  He may have contacted you and told you how beautiful you are, but trust me, you aren't.  Not to a 40-year-old anyway. He wants your money.  I don't mean to be harsh but it's called "catfishing" and there are all kinds of people out there ready to prey upon lonely, old men and women. Be realistic about yourself.

Likewise, make sure you keep in touch with your grandchildren so you know what their voices sound like, especially whether they have an accent or not, so you don't fall for the "Grandparents Scam." (I only mention the accent because most of these scams are coming from call centers in other countries).  The "Grandparents Scam" is one where you get a phone call from someone claiming to be your grandson or granddaughter.  The scammers take the chance that you don't know what your adult grandchild sounds like. Your supposed grandchild tells you he or she is in a Mexican prison (or any foreign prison that sounds scary) and for you to please wire some money so he or she can get out...oh, and, by the way, PLEASE don't tell Mom and Dad.  Yes, people, this one works or the scammers wouldn't be doing it.  So if you get a phone call from a phone number you don't recognize and the person says..."Grandmaaaa" in a voice you don't recognize, hang up."  And by the way, why are you answering the phone when you don't recognize the phone number?  I am assuming you have caller ID?  If not, another sign you are OLD!

Likewise, if you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS or the U.S. Treasury Department telling you that you owe them money, hang up.  The IRS and the Treasury Department do not make these kinds of calls nor do they ask for your credit card or bank account information over the phone. 

Another popular scam is a phone call or email telling you that you have won the lottery in Ireland or some other country.  Great, but first you need to pay the taxes on the money so before you can collect the 100,000 euros, you need to wire them $10,000. You really aren't going to fall for that one, are you?

If you don't want to not only be branded as old, but also stupid, do not engage these people and do not fall for something that is too good to be true.  And just so you think this will never happen to you, I have had all of these phone calls myself.  I am on some old peoples' list.  We just had one this morning! 

The only thing I haven't experienced is looking for love online.  I don't need to because I have Hubby, but if he goes to that big rock concert in the sky before I do, I can certainly tell you I won't be looking for another man, not online or anywhere else.  I did my bit where that's concerned.

Anyway, to avoid these phone scams which are aimed at old people because we are the folks most likely to be home and most likely to answer the phone, don't answer the phone if you don't recognize the phone number and if you don't have caller ID, get it.





  • Don't drive like an old person. 

That means driving in the left lane and staying there no matter what, leaving your blinker on, driving the speed limit to make sure everyone else does too (acting like a sort of hall monitor, but for cars) and being clueless about what is going on around you - DON'T, but if you do any of those things, you shouldn't be surprised when you get the finger from time to time.




  • Don't use your medical issues as a topic of conversation. 
Yes, I know it's no fun to have to deal with some of the physical ailments that accompany getting older and a little sympathy is nice.  But unfortunately, no one really wants to hear about them. All I can say with that is, if that is all you can think of to talk about, maybe you need to start reading some books.




  • Don't play the age card
"Well, I've been around the block a time or two and I think I know a bit more about that topic than you do."

You don't want to do this with your kids, your peers, not at work, not at all.  For one thing, no one cares what you think, no one likes a know-it-all, and they are going to do what they want anyway.  It's also a guaranteed conversation stopper, and why remind everyone that you are old?  They can see for themselves.  And acting like you know what is best for everyone just because you have been around the block a time or two or five, doesn't mean you know more than anyone else. 

Show the wisdom of being old by zipping your lips.




  • Don't... go gentle into that good night
Poet Dylan Thomas had it right.  Never give up no matter how old you are or how bad things might get. DON'T give up.  No matter what life throws at you, keep going.  You did that when you were young, why not keep doing it now?

"Do not go gentle into that good night."



So those are some things all of us old folks should work on.

But it's not all bad news. 



There are actually some things you can do so you won't call attention to the fact that you are old.  These things might also help you enjoy the process a bit more.


DO's:


  • Do enjoy every moment you have left. 
Doing what you love and being happy will keep you forever young. If you have dreams or that proverbial bucket list, it's now or never.  Get on with it.  I always dreamed of being a movie critic and now I can kind of say I am one with my blog and my Friday reviews (by the way, this Friday, I will be reviewing "Hell or High Water," an absolutely fabulous film)!




  • Do kick up your heels and get down front!

 
 



If you like going to concerts to relive the rock & roll glory that was our growing up years (or any lively pursuit), do it!  And don't be afraid to get down front where the action is, literally and figuratively.  Who knows?
You might get a guitar pick or a drum stick or even a handshake from a rock & roll god - literally.  And if concerts aren't your thing, "getting down front" works the same for anything you enjoy. 

It's a state of mind. Don't be afraid. Go for it!  Get down front!






  • Do hang out with young people. 

Don't just stick with people your own age, especially if you live in a 52+ housing situation.  Spending time with the younger generation will make you realize that you may be old physically but you are still relevant.  You have much to share, but you also still have much to learn.




  • Do volunteer. 
I certainly don't want to get another job but volunteering has allowed me to live out an ambition I had when I was young.  One thing I wanted to do was be a counselor (that was along with being a writer, actress, and generally fabulous woman) and through a volunteer program that I am a part of, I support other seniors who are going through some life transitions.  I hope I am helping them, but I know I am also helping myself because it is a life affirming activity where I learn how to listen, how to have compassion for others and gratitude for what I have, and a feeling of connection to others.

Doing something for other people through volunteering reminds you that you are still a valuable part of the human race no matter how old you are.




  • Do keep current. 
Know what is going on in the world, in your town, in politics, music, fashion, restaurants...you may be retired from your job but you haven't retired from life.  Nothing says "I am old" more than not knowing what is going on and who is doing what to whom.




  • Do enjoy your retirement. 
If you are retired, enjoy the fact that you no longer have anyone bossing you around.  When I first retired, I felt guilty about walking away from a job I could have kept doing.  I also worried about my purpose in life now that I no longer had a job.  What I discovered was that my purpose was ME.  My existence was purpose enough so I stopped worrying and started to enjoy my freedom to be me.  If, like I was, you are struggling a bit with your retirement and feeling isolated and lost, you might be inspired by my blog post that I wrote last month, "The Key to a Happy Retirement."



Getting old is an inevitability, but it doesn't mean we need to give up on ourselves or complain or be annoying. Some of us go kicking and screaming into old age and some of us give up and fall into the old people stereotypes. Either way, we run the risk of becoming invisible and irrelevant. But if we stay away from the stereotypes and decide that we may be old physically, but we are still alive and relevant and happy, we can lessen that risk, avoid being annoying, and maybe no one will notice that we are old!

So here's the bottom line: If you don't want to be judged as old in a bad way, avoid becoming a curmudgeon, don't pontificate and act like a big know-it-all,  don't feel you need to tell people off, learn to use a computer, don't get in people's way on the road, don't bore people with your medical history, don't fall in love with a Nigerian scammer, and heaven forbid, don't talk while I am trying to enjoy a movie. 

But DO enjoy yourself! You have earned it!

(I know I am sticking my neck out ranting about how not to act old when I myself am old.  So here's a deal.  If you see or hear me doing any of the things I am ranting about, I give you permission to give me as much crap as I am giving you now)!


What do you think? 

How have you avoided the pitfalls of acting
like an old, out-of-touch fuddy duddy?

 
 

Thanks for Reading!
 
See you Friday
 

for my review of



"Hell or High Water"
 
and 
  
The Week in Reviews
(What to See or Read and What to Avoid)

  
and the latest on

"My 1001 Movies I Must See Before  
 I Die Project."
 

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2 comments :

  1. What a great public service announcement. One of my worst foibles is that I sometimes act like "the sheriff". Must be all those years in HR. Follow the rules and no one gets hurt. But skateboard over the bridge at the park and I'm calling the HOA. Drop your kids off for swim lessons in front of my house instead of the parking lot...then slow the heck down! Don't bother to pick up your dog's poopie? ...let me give you a bag. I'm acting old, aren't I? But not too bad. I don't do the other "Don'ts" on your list. what I need to work on is the "do's". That "enjoy retirement" one is a work in progress. But I like your ideas in the Key to Happy Retirement post. I just need to be patient and kind with myself. Retirement wasn't built in a day...

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  2. Patience is the key as well as not expecting too much of yourself. This is a BIG change for anyone who has worked all of her life. You will figure it out! :)

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