Old age – A moving target

flickr  cliff1066

flickr cliff1066.

How old is old? As my birthdays seem to come around more frequently, I have to started to wonder how “old” is defined.

I try not to think too much about the topic, but a recent news item headline got my attention. There was an unfortunate auto accident near Denver, and they said the fatality was an “elderly” driver. The poor chap was 65. Give me a break!

I decided to dust off my dictionary to see what Mr. Webster had to say on the subject. (If you are young and reading this, this is what we used before Google and dictionary.com) Elderly is defined as somewhat old, near old age or pertaining to a person in their later years. The word old on the other hand means far advanced in years. The dictionary also said old means no longer in general use. The example for this was an inanimate item, thankfully.

Old is a relative term I guess. I have known some 60-year-olds who are very old and others well into their 80s who are not. My father in Iowa, who was born in 1924, doesn’t seem old. Oh, he has slowed down some, but he still volunteers at the hospital one day a week, and whenever I call him, he always seems to be at the hardware store getting something for a new project.

My wife has an aunt and uncle living in Pueblo who will never be old. They are in their 80s and still live in their own home. She mows the lawn and walks to the local library frequently. He likes to email family members and download pictures he has taken. They both can converse on local and national issues as well as anyone I know. The aunt does protest when we describe her as spry. She thinks this term is for old people, not her, but really, it means energetic, agile or active.

Many younger people work at the company where my wife is a temporary employee. You know the ones that can text message faster than I can type. One said she needed to take a few days off to go see her mother in a neighboring state. She was concerned about how many years she would have to enjoy with her mother. My wife later found out the woman in question was 60. Yikes.

I know there is no finite definition of “senior” citizen. AARP says you are a senior at 50. AARP stands for the Association of Retired Persons. Who the heck retires at 50? These days people work well into their 70s and beyond. If my investment situation doesn’t pick up soon, I may have to become the first 90-year-old greeter at Wal-Mart. My AARP card will be 40 years old then.

Restaurants and other stores offer senior discounts. It is very wearing to try to figure out if they mean 55, 60, 62, or 65. For some reason, maybe political correctness, they employees are reluctant to offer their discounts or ask if you are eligible for one. I always ask, figuring I have earned anything they have to offer in the way of a reduced price. I once saw a baseball cap in a mail-order catalog that said, “I’m a senior. Give me my darn discount!” Maybe I should buy one.

When I was young, I thought everyone was old. Some of my high school teachers, who I considered ancient, may have barely seen their 30th birthday. When I graduated from high school, my dad was about 40. Go figure.

I have come to realize that old age is a moving target. I can live with that – for a long time.


13 responses to “Old age – A moving target

  1. Bob Mc Donnell

    Bob, you are old.

  2. Thanks for finding my blog Cuz. I am old but I think you (or your brother) could catch up with me if you try.

    Be well

  3. I agree. Old is a moving target but…it’s always ahead of us. I have just read a book about how growing old is just a state of mind. Theoretically, because the body replaces itself every few months, we should be able to control the aging process with our thoughts.

    I like that idea! I’m thinking younger and younger now. When I was a child 40 was middle aged, now 60 is the new middle age. By the time I’m 80, maybe that will be the middle age. By that kind of thinking, I can stay middle aged forever!

    Age is definitely all in the mind. My mother never thought old, nor did any of her family. She had an uncle who played tennis all his life. When he was 75 he was made a lifelong honorary (i.e. free) member of the local tennis club. He used it almost until his death – at 107! How’s that for a discount?

    I’m not leaving until I’m at least 95+ and even then I won’t be old, just at my use by date.

    Thanks for the lighthearted approach to this topic – especially since I reach the big 6-0 this year!

  4. Woody Woodward

    Dear Brother Bob,
    Talking about the wisdom of the elders and the stupidity of youngsters… My brother (67) was in the checkout line at the grocery store wearing a sweatshirt boasting, “Remember the Civil War!”
    The young check out lady read the shirt, looked at my brother and in all of her ignorant naïveté inquired, “Did you fight in the Civil War?” My wise brother commented to the inquisitive young lady, “No, I was too old.”

  5. Great blog Bob! I really love the layout! I may check this out for mine. I prefer being able to choose whether to “read on.”

    Very nice!

    We need to put each other on our blog rolls.

  6. You are a young buck, Bob. “Old is certainly a moving target and it hits us all differently. My father is 76 and Alzheimer’s has quickly taken him away, while my grandmother turned 96 last month and still lives alone. Everyone older than me has my full gratitude – they sowed the seeds of the abundance I now enjoy!

  7. Bob,
    Your not old, your elderly. But so what, you get stuff when your elderly. Discounts are great but you also get your own planned communities! Yeah, and most of them offer better amenities than 5 star hotels! I can’t wait until I reach the ripe old age where I qualify for the oh so exclusive “retirement community”, I am going to have a dog walker, maid service, meals, entertainment, even free rides around town! If you ask me you old timers got it made!

  8. Senior discounts

    Oh we have it made alright. Getting that free drink at Taco Bell is wonderful. Haven’t heard from our really OLD relative D.E. who lives up on the hill with Dale.

  9. Deep thoughts Phil. I feel blessed. I am amazed how much traffic the “old” article is getting.

  10. Heidi

    Yes. Let’s talk after a Wednesday meeting. You have been missed the last couple of months. The “read more” is a tip I picked up at Brian Schwartz’s blog class.
    I am using a free WP template.

  11. Woody Love ths Civil War comment. LOL Well I wear a ball cap that says Vietnam Era Vet. Some think that was about the time of the Civil War.

  12. It is 7:16 PM….this ole person is ready to put her head on the pillow for a little nap before bedtime….I can’t take much more wordsbybob (or Bob for that matter) at this hour. Hearing Miles tell me about his yellow truck was more entertaining.

  13. D.E.

    You lead such an exciting life.