Showing posts with label Aging. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Aging. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

All The Lonely People: The Ultimate Guide to Avoiding Being One of Them When You Get Old

"All the lonely people
Where do they all come from?
All the lonely people
Where do they all belong?"

From the looks of things - how we treat our older adults - apparently they all belong in some sort of retirement community or worse, a nursing home.

Eleanor Rigby is not alone in her loneliness. 

Many people in the world are lonely, but being old and lonely is its own kind of loneliness.

As I age, I start worrying about where I am going to end up when everyone else is gone.  If I outlive Hubby and my friends, then what?

My mother ended up all alone in a nursing home where the underpaid staff of young people seemed to care more about standing around talking about their dates than making sure the inmates, er, residents had their diapers on. Hubby's dad ended up in a place where he was constantly hearing hard luck stories from the staff and giving them money.

But before we get to the endgame of loneliness, what do we do now while we still have our faculties and some ability to make our own decisions about how we want to spend the rest of our lives?

Is loneliness and ending up alone in an institution automatically our fate when we grow old?

I say no, but there are factors that can lead to a lonely life.

It's one thing to be old, retired and alone in the town you grew up in.  Even though your spouse and parents might be dead, you most probably have a network of friends that you have had since childhood.  But many of us no longer live in the towns where we grew up.  We have moved around the country, or even the world, chasing jobs, loves and adventure, in each place having to start over making friends and creating a supportive community.  But we did it.

However, as we get older, finding ourselves in a new town and having to start over gets harder and harder.  We might not have the resources that we had when we were younger or if we had stayed in our hometowns.  Many of us old folks move to be near our adult children and grandchildren, not realizing how difficult it might be to start a new life in a new place as an older adult.  When we were young, we could walk down to the neighborhood bar and when we left, we would have had at least one new friend.  But trying to make friends when we are in our 50's, 60's and 70's is not that easy. 

  • If you have a job, the potential for friendships is there.
  • If you belong to a church, fine.  Instant community.
  • If you have a hobby and can join a gun club or tennis club, perhaps that is a good way to make new friends.
  • If you have moved voluntarily to a retirement community and there are all kinds of activities you are interested in, then great.

  • But what if you work from home? 
  • What if you are retired and can't afford to move to a retirement community?
  • What if you have health issues that restrict your mobility?

When you move to a new place, your peers most likely have their own families and friends.  They are not looking to take on new friends.  Friends take time and energy.  Even if you have moved to be near your grandchildren, your adult children have busy lives and your grandchildren have their own activities and friends.  Unless you live with them, you can't rely on them as your sole source of companionship and social life. 

I volunteer as a counselor for seniors who are going through bereavement, health issues or big changes in their lives.  Mostly, they are women who are alone and some are sadly warehoused into nursing homes or some kind of facility where their adult children don't have to worry about them.  And these parents didn't go there because they wanted to.  They went because they "didn't want to be a burden" to their kids. 



My own mother, who was a beautiful proud woman, ended up in such a place and it is something I don't think I will ever get over.  She had a stroke that affected her brain and caused some dementia, but don't think she didn't know that she was alone and without her family.  She did.  And she was the type of person who would also have not wanted to be a burden.

My mother had a stroke which resulted in dementia and she ended up in a nursing home.  I won't go into the details about why and how that happened, but it did.  And I remember she didn't want to go, but at the time, it didn't seem like she was able to stay on in her home alone.

But let me tell you, she might have been confused about where she was or not remember much about the immediate past, but she did know she wasn't with her family.  She also knew her niece's phone number.  My cousin, my mother's favorite niece, who lived in the town where I grew up and where my mother lived her entire life, had spent a lot of time with my mother over the years and was very good to my mother.  But my cousin had to change the ring on her phone for my mother's calls, because my mother called her every day, sometimes more than once, to ask when she was going to come and get her. I don't blame my cousin at all for not wanting to answer her phone every day and have to deal with my mother, but can you imagine what it must have been like for my mother to call for someone to come and get her and no one answered?  If that doesn't wrench your heart, I don't know what would.

As I mentioned, I volunteer as a senior counselor. One of my clients is housebound because of some physical issues.  She not only has difficulty moving around but she has lost the desire to do anything at all.  She wants to work with me to figure out how to deal with her situation and to find some motivation.  She moved thousands of miles from where she had lived all of her life to be near her son and grandson but only sees them once a week.   She has mobility issues and rarely leaves her home which restricts her ability to meet people. What will she do with the rest of her life? 

Another client was in a nursing home for people with dementia but did NOT have dementia.  Her health problems required nursing care but she had all of her mental faculties.  She had no one to talk to except the caregivers and her daughter, who visited once a week, unless she wanted to try to talk to one of the inmates, er, residents, a resident who thought she was on a vacation and her son was going to pick her up any day now or the guy who thought he was the king of Romania.

It seems to me that there were solutions for these people to be more of a part of their families rather than languishing alone. But what is surprising is that many people who find themselves in these situations wouldn't say they wanted their adult children to care for them even if they would.  As I said, the mantra seems to be "I don't want to be a burden."

From what I have seen, I am just appalled.  How can a loved one be a burden?

What has happened to us that instead of revering our aged population and spending time with them and learning from them, we would rather put them out of sight where we don't have to "worry about them." 

That is very different from how it used to be or how it is in other cultures where getting older was not a curse but something to be respected, where families looked after their aging relatives and learned from them.

My husband's parents took care of his grandmother.  She lived with them until her death and he remembers time with her fondly.  My grandparents lived across the street from us and my Dad went over there every day and fixed their dinner.  They both lived and died in their own home, and before they died they were able to interact with their grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Sure, your adult children or loved ones are busy, but you were busy, too, when you were raising them, and now it's their turn if they have the means.  I know many people are struggling and don't have space for a parent or the financial ability to help.  I get that.  But I have seen situations where the ability was there but not the desire.  Sad.

Many of us don't want to be a burden to our kids or loved ones.  But did it ever occur to you that perhaps your kids and loved ones want to take care of you?  Maybe some of you have kids who now realize all you did for them and they want to return the favor.  Or not.

And if it's not, then for better or worse, for those of us who can't afford or don't want to move to a retirement community, I would guess that most of us want to stay in our own homes.  OK, if I am living alone, maybe I might fall.  Get me that alert thing that calls the paramedics. Maybe I will meet a cute paramedic.  And perhaps if my brain isn't what it once was, I might leave something on the stove and burn the house down.  OK, it's my house and I'd rather die that way than in a nursing home where I have no freedom and am treated like a prisoner for the rest of my life.

This is not for those of you who have the means and want to move to a retirement community where you have assistance, your meals, and when the time comes, nursing care. Good for you for making plans.  But those situations are very expensive and some of us don't have the means to do that nor do we want to.  Maybe we don't want to have to get rid of most of our belongings and move into a community where we don't know anyone, where there are rules we have to follow and we are treated like children.

Adult children this is for you:

Put yourselves in your parents' shoes.

How would you feel about being yanked out of your home, a home you have lived in for 25 years or more, to be placed in a strange place with strange people where you are not allowed to leave just because you have some health/mental/whatever problems that have become a problem for your children? 

How would you feel being put into a place where there are rules about what you can do, where you can go, what you can eat?

How would you like to be left alone with strangers, some of whom don't know what day it is?

Sure, you worry about your parent.  You don't want that call in the middle of the night that your parent has fallen down or set the house on fire.

But I would bet that if you asked your loved one if he or she would rather go to a nursing home or drop dead at home, the answer would be the latter. 

So before you stuff your loved one into a nursing home or someplace he or she doesn't want to be, I implore you to exhaust all options available in your community.  Your parents exhausted themselves taking care of you.  Now it's your turn.

Washington State is a leader in services for the aging population.  Because of what happened to my mother, I have become an advocate for "aging in place." I had the privilege of serving on the local Council on Aging where I was made aware of all of the services available to help people "age in place," i.e. stay in their own homes as long as possible, despite health and financial issues.  And before you say anything about how is this paid for and you don't want higher taxes and all of that, it has been proven that it is cheaper to provide services to help people stay in their own homes than to put them into an institution.
There are counseling programs that I mentioned earlier, companion programs, food services, senior centers, adult daycare, etc.  Find out what services and programs are available in your town that will help you care for your loved one, so your loved one can "age in place."

Now here is my message to my own kids. 

I may get forgetful or even suffer from dementia.  I may not be able to get around anymore, but I do not want to be warehoused.  I do not want to live amongst a bunch of other old people.  I DO want to be a burden so get used to it.  I took care of you and now it's your turn.

Besides, one of the main reasons I can't move into an old people's home is there wouldn't be enough room for all of my clothes.

But mainly, all of you "kids" out there, I want to save you from regret and guilt, which I guarantee you will have if you send your parents away against their will and they let you, because they "don't want to be a burden."  I live with the regret and pain every day that I couldn't save my mother.

Now, you old Baby Boomers, this is for you:

Whether you are or will be in your hometown in your own house when your spouse and most of your peers have died and your kids (if you have them) have moved away or you are all alone in a new town or assisted living facility, how do you cope with the loneliness that might accompany moving to a new place or suddenly being alone?
Whatever our circumstances, as we age, how do we keep living the life we deserve to live - a full one that brings us joy?

First of all, do what you can to plan for the inevitable, to decide what you want to do and how you want to live out your life, especially if you can't really make the decision for yourself, and make sure your kids or loved ones know what your wishes are. 

Find out what services are available through your local Senior Services or equivalent.  Even though you are alone and might not know many people, try to avoid being isolated. If you are able, volunteering is a good way to stay connected with people.  If you don't have one already, get a computer and learn how to use it.  Sign up for Facebook so you can talk to your children and grandkids or friends online, but don't "friend" anyone you don't know (beware of being scammed.  If a handsome stranger in a military uniform 30 years younger than you wants to "friend" you on Facebook, sorry.  He's not interested in you.  He's in a sweat shop somewhere overseas and just wants your money.  Don't fall for it). But reach out. Don't be afraid to ask for what you need. There are all kinds of ways to stay connected.

But in the end, even if your living situation is to your liking, at some point you will probably find yourself alone and feeling lonely. 

As one great sage from "Real World New Orleans" said, "I am never lonely because everywhere I go, I am there." 

I know.  He wasn't a sage.  He was just a kid on "The Real World," and I think he stole that from Buddha or some other famous person, but that doesn't matter, the sentiment remains the same.  As you get older, it's important to remember that your true self is always with you, that you are your own best friend, so it's important to enjoy your own company and to recognize the joy that exists in your life. 

Your thoughts might tell you that you are old, alone and lonely, but you are not your thoughts.  Your thoughts will sometimes tell you things that make you sad, that tell you that you don't matter or what's the point of your life?  But those are just thoughts. Thoughts come and go. They are not you.  

You.  You will always be you. No matter how old you get, how wrinkled, how infirm, if you are at home alone or in a nursing home, you will always be you, and your very existence matters and is the whole point.  No one and nothing can take that from you.  Your body may have changed and gotten old, but your true self is still inside there, the person you have always been. 

No matter what, you are still YOU, the you that can choose joy.

When my clients in the counseling program are struggling with health issues, getting old, circumstances that they can't control, I try to convey that to them.

And I tell myself that too.

Even though I am old and can't do all of the things I used to do... Even though I am far from my children and grandchildren and get lonely and sad at times... Even though I don't know what the future holds...I remind myself that I am still me.  I will always be me, that person who can find joy in little things like a nice big bowl of gelato or a particularly good episode of the British soap opera I watch or a moving figure skating routine or reading a good book or relishing a great movie or watching the antics of my dogs or looking out my window and noticing the sun peeking through the trees, reminding me that I exist.

In those moments, I know I can reject the negative thoughts that come and go and choose joy instead.

I can also reflect back on my life, and when I do that, I am reminded of the person I was and will always be and there is also joy in that.

I will always be the young girl who loved her parents and had a happy childhood,

and who wanted to be an actress.


I will always be the woman who raised two successful children she loves,

who had a long and happy marriage to a man she loves,

who loves her grandchildren,

who had a successful and satisfying career,

who likes to dress up her dogs,


who finds joy in movies and books and food and fashion,

who writes a blog, and who has always tried to do the right thing and be a better person. 

When I am aware of all of those things, I feel joy and that joy I feel is my true self speaking, that part of me that has always been there.

My true self says,"You did good, kid (I know that's bad English but I don't want to be correcting my true self when she is saying something nice to me)!  And you are still here.  There is still more joy to be felt and life to be lived. You might have some bad days but, just remember, there is always tomorrow, and tomorrow might be filled with joy. Who knows? But you want to be here to find out, don't you?" 

And likewise, no matter where or how you end up, you will always be the person who lived and loved, who lives and loves, who feels joy when you think of all you have done and the joy you still feel in little things.  You may be old, but you will always be YOU and those moments of joy are glimpses into your true self reminding you that YOU are there and will always be there, and you will never really be alone.

So when you are feeling old, alone and lonely and wonder what's the point of getting up each day, tap into that core of your existence, your true self, that space inside you that has experienced joy, and despite your circumstances, can still experience joy, even if it's just a snuggle from your cat or watching your favorite TV show. Choose joy. Remind yourself that every time you feel some joy, no matter how small, it's your true self, YOU, reminding you that you are alive and you are still and always will be YOU and no one and nothing can take that away from you.

Hopefully knowing that, even though you are alone, you won't be lonely.

Now go tell your loved ones you are so looking forward to their taking care of you!

Thanks for Reading!
See you Friday
for my review of

"The Handmaiden,"
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."

If you enjoyed this post, feel free to click on the share buttons to share it on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn, email it to your friends and LIKE me on Facebook at


Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Fashion Essentials for a Woman of a Certain Age

I don't know why I do this to myself but despite the fact that the models could be my granddaughters, and I can't afford the clothes and accessories they wear, I can't resist fashion magazines.  I may not have much in common with Gigi Haddid and Kendall Jenner but show me a "Harper's Bazaar" or a "Vogue," and I can't help myself.

But that doesn't mean I am immune to it all.  Reading these magazines brings up all kinds of angst and bile and regret about growing old, not to mention I can't wear or afford most of the featured items.  So at least once a year, I am inspired to rant about fashion magazines and rail against what they say we should be wearing and doing.

So speaking of "Harper's Bazaar," they have a column called "The A-List," where someone famous "shares her essentials."  It's kind of like Nina Garcia's "What Nina Loves" that I ranted about last year ("What Rosy the Reviewer Loves and a Rant About Fashion Magazines.").  Now Nina is a woman of a certain age like myself and she can be forgiven for hawking outrageous items such as Tom Ford soap for $35 a bar and beaded Balenciaga sandals for $1375, because that's her job as a fashion editor, but when a twenty-year-old like Kendall Jenner is telling me what fashion essentials are, I have to draw the line.  I am a woman of a certain age and have pretty much given up on buying designer clothes and pricey soap, but, Kendall Jenner is a fashion icon who has millions of followers on social media and I would guess they aren't women my age.  They are young women who also can't afford some of the stuff she is saying is "essential" either.

Let's see... (and I am quoting here):

"When it comes to tops, I like something simple and easy to re-wear." Chanel sweater, $2050.

If I had a Chanel sweater that cost over $2000 it wouldn't just be easy to re-wear, I would be wearing it every day because it would be the only thing I owned!

"I wash my face a lot, wear sunscreen, drink tons of water and use Estee Lauder Products." - Rouge, $82. 

Uh, $82 for rouge? I just squeeze my cheeks like Scarlett O'Hara used to do and save myself the $82.

"I wear a watch every once in a while, usually a vintage Rolex that I really like." 

I would think she would like it.  It costs $11,000.  I would really like it too.  You notice she says she wears it every once in a while.  For 20-year-olds, a watch is not for telling time.  They have their IPhones for that.  A Rolex would be a fashion accessory that just happens to have a little thingy on it that tells the time.

"I'm a big shoe girl.  Shoes of all types, really, especially if they're comfortable."  Balmain, $1540!

For $1540 I sure hope they are comfortable, because you would have to wear thing constantly to get your money's worth!

"For jewelry, I really love chokers and sentimental necklaces.  And Chanel is always a go-to."  Chanel bracelet, $2200

OK, I can't take any more.  Speaking of chokers, I want to choke her!  Twenty years old and throwing around words like Chanel, Balmain and Rolex.  I can barely afford a sweater at Old Navy.

And I would imagine Kendall's 20-year-old followers can't afford Chanel, Balmain and Rolex either.

So why do we women, especially women of a certain age, read these magazines that show impossibly thin, impossibly young women talking about their essential fashion items that are impossibly expensive for most of us?

Well, I don't know about you, but I do it for the same reason I go to the movies.  For a short time, I can hang out in a different world.  I can imagine myself in Prada and Chanel, wearing a Rolex watch and sipping Veuve Clicquot with the beautiful people.

But more practically speaking, I also like clothes and like to keep up with the trends. I may be old, but I am not out of it.  I liked clothes when I was twenty, and I like clothes now. Certainly I can't afford the high end stuff, but if I know what's on trend, then I can usually put together something that shows I know what's going on. 

We women of a certain age tend to become invisible.  I am not having it.  I will not go quietly into old age and give up my big earrings and my leopard leggings.

And right there, that's the #1 fashion essential for a woman of a certain age.

Your Fashion Essential is YOU!

Don't give up on yourself.  Get on out there and stay there!

We may not be a 20-something Kendall Jenner who can afford to buy whatever she wants and has the best hair and make-up people at her beck and call, but we can still be presentable and look like we belong in the 21st century.

Yes, some days I don't get out of the bathrobe until noon, but at least I do get dressed and when I do, I try to look like I give a damn.

So to look like you give a damn, here are what I consider fashion essentials for women of a certain age who still care what they look like, but who don't have a lot of money to spend on themselves:


1. Shapewear.
If you are self-conscious about parts of your body - and who of us of a certain  age aren't? - and that self-consciousness restricts what you think you can wear, buy some shapewear, which is just a trendy name for what we used to call girdles or corsets. It doesn't have to be Spanx, which I find impossibly expensive considering all of the places on my body I need to shape.  You can get good quality shapewear at Penney's or discount places like Ross or Marshall's. Mostly I like to wear it to hold up my pantyhose when I am wearing a dress and boots or in summer to keep my thighs from slapping together when I am wearing a sundress. TMI?


2. A fashionable hat
Then you don't need to fix your hair.  However, be aware that once you have the hat on you will likely have to keep wearing it because otherwise when you take the hat off you will have hat hair.  So buy a hat your really like in case you can't take it off.


3. Active wear
This is just a trendy name for work-out clothes.  At least if you have some cute workout clothes, you might go to the gym...or to the mall.  I include mall walking as a work-out.



4. Make-up
When we ladies get old, I think the first thing that seems to go by the wayside is wearing make-up.  I am willing to accept that I have gotten old but I am not willing to accept how I look without mascara.  Given that, I am willing to take the five minutes it takes to slap on some make-up so I can fight the battle that is getting old.


5. Big Sunglasses
For when you don't want to wear make-up.



6. Trousers that make you feel good and look good
You notice I don't use the word pants.  That's for my British friends - in the UK "pants" are usually underpants so I am not talking about that here.  Trousers can be jeans or they can be a tailored trouser but they should be your go-to's, the ones you reach for when you want to look fabulous.


7. A fabulous coat or jacket
I am addicted to coats and jackets and they are essential to looking good when you are outside when the weather is colder.  They keep you nice and warm, and they can cover a multitude of sins. 


8. Black and/or white
Wearing all black or all white is a great look and also makes accessorizing easy.  Or mix the two. Always striking.

9.  A great uniform
Have a great stay-at-home outfit you can pull on without thinking and hang around the house in, but that doesn't make you look like you weren't thinking when you got dressed. You never know...the man (or woman) of your dreams might knock on the door and you don't want to be standing there in sweatpants and a t-shirt that says "My Cat Thinks I'm Cool."  Well, do you?  Even the cable guy shouldn't have to see you like that.

So here's a tip for that: I have just discovered a trick that works really well for looking good every day.  I have a ton of clothes that I have accumulated over the years.  I can basically shop my own closets.  I am not proud of my "collecting," OK, hoarding (I talked about it in May on my post "Confessions of a Clothes Hoarder"), but let's just say I am aware of the problem and am working on it.

But anyway, having so many clothes has its own problems in that sometimes I am overwhelmed with what to wear. When I am riding my stationary bike with the closet door open, I sometimes see items I haven't seen in years and think to myself, "Wow, that's cute. When did I get that?"  Sad.

So I now have this little pile of trousers/leggings and tops that I keep at the forefront of my closet and can just reach for. They consist of a few cute on trend outfits I can put on without thinking.  And I can wear the same thing a couple of days in a row if I am seeing different people.  Who will know but you?

10. Finally, as I said earlier, the best fashion essential is staying in the game.  You don't have to spend a lot to look good but spending a little time to look good will make you feel like a million bucks!

That is the most essential fashion essential: Feeling good about yourself no matter what your size, the size of your wardrobe or the wrinkles on your face.  Don't be invisible! It's your life so live it!

So I will end by sharing with you the fashion trends for fall to give you a little inspiration and to save you having to scout the fashion magazines and hang out with Kendall Jenner and start feeling bad again.

  • Leopard trousers (or trousers in a graphic print)
  • Military coat
  • Modern loafer
  • Puffer jacket
  • Long trench
  • Graphic bag
  • Cross body bag
  • Luxe fabric as in brocade
  • Velvet boots

Clothes hoarding has its perks. Check, check, check, check, check, check, check, check... oops.  Yes, I have all of the items on the list including the leopard trousers...but no velvet boots.

I think I need to go for a mall walk!

Thanks for Reading!
See you Friday

for my review of

"War Dogs"
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."

If you enjoyed this post, feel free to click on the share buttons to share it on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn, email it to your friends and LIKE me on Facebook at


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


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'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 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 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, 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, 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"
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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