Conscious Aging: Relevant, or Not?

When you live in an aging body, it’s easy to think that everything is connected to getting older — which leaves us vulnerable to what I call “slippery slope” thinking. If you forget somebody’s name when you’re younger, you think “darn, I forgot his/her name.” If you do that in your 70’s, you might get a stab of fear and wonder “is this it? Is dementia starting?” The more anxious we get, the harder it is to recover that name.

I try to keep separate the fact that stuff happens in general, and sometimes stuff happens specifically because I’m older. Just about a year ago, for example, I tripped on a piece of broken and protruding sidewalk while striding briskly down the steep Queen Anne hill. On a straight patch I might have recovered. Here, I went flying forward like Wonder Woman, and came down hard on both knees. I had bone bruises, not breaks, and a deep gouge on my left knee. Although the scars are fading, I can still see them.

For me, that falls into “stuff happens”. I think anyone, of any age, might have tripped on that chunk of sidewalk and gotten similar injuries.

Into the “stuff happens because I’m older” category goes most of the health issues. In the last year I’ve seen three eye doctors, and will see two ongoing. One is the doctor I see for vision correction. One was the cataract guy — no problem there as yet. One was the retinal specialist. Although my epi-retinal fold is not causing severe problems now, I need to have it checked every six months. Doctors #1 and #3 are now an ongoing part of my life.

I used to wonder why older people talk about doctor visits all the time. Well, I don’t talk about them all the time, but I do have more contact with more kinds of doctors than I used to.

I’m thinking about this now because I’m anticipating my 74th birthday on May 5th. When I was younger, 70’s sounded really old. Now that I’m here, I want to be realistic about my age without falling into some of the more unattractive patterns of aging — like holding back from doing things because I might not do them so well or might get tired or hurt. Do I really want to go to Green Lake and rent a kayak, get myself in and out of the very low kayak seat without losing balance and falling in the water, then stroke around the lake for an hour with enough intensity to get a good workout?

Yes, I do. More to the point, do I want to try something new — like a balance board? And if I fall in the water, so what? Yes, I think I want to do that too. Will let you know. 🙂

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