I turn 65 this year. I did not view myself as old when I moved here at the age of 58. However, slowly but surely I somehow aged. Pains from old football injuries and degenerative disk disease were taking their toll. I gained weight because I could not exercise much due to my medical problems. Walking is great for cardio but I would have to walk 10 miles to burn off enough calories to cover an ice cream cone. The worse problem for me is my memory. I often cannot think of words or the names of things. Even posting has become a problem as I forget to type some words or have to wait to remember the word I wanted to use. Last week I put a container of milk into the pantry where it went sour. I make my living with my brain. I do not have to put in much physical exertion, just think, solve problems and troubleshoot network glitches. I was the golden boy in my company. The guy who once was one of the top two in his field worldwide. The guy who was chosen as an Alternate US advisor and who had a drink or two with important politicians and businessmen. Now I forget things and have to put everything down on my calendars. Yes, more than one calendar. I make stupid mistakes and that bothers me a lot.
Last but not lease is that you acutely become aware of your mortality. Your friends are dying as are people younger than you. Go out to dinner with a friend one night and he dies of a heart attack the next day. I see more doctors in a year than I used to see in 5 years. I have a cabinet filled with pills. I am suffering from depression from not dealing well with aging. All the stuff I chose not to think about when I was younger is now upon me and real. My life expectancy is about 13 more years when years pass more quickly each time. My wife has had a hip replacement and two cataracts removed. The thought of her dying before me is unbearable to think about. She is my life and lately, my memory.
I go on Medicare this year and have been getting letters from insurance companies an even funeral parlors. Everyone seems to know I am turning 65. I am on so many mailed and email list that at times it seems that they are trying to get my money before I am too dead to spend it. I am coming to grips with old age. I now live in the largest retirement community in the world. There are over 100,000 retired people here. It has its plus and minuses. The plus is a great medical system geared strictly to the elderly. No more dealing with doctors who ignore you complaints and treat you like a child. There is a great support system as we tend to look out for each other. I feel more comfortable around people my own age and in fact, what I used to complain about is nothing compared to what others have gone through; multiple bouts of cancer, strokes, heart attacks and lose of loved ones. In some ways I feel lucky that I only have the problems I have but in the back of my mind lurks the thought that I can have a heart attack at any time. Across the street from me is a locked box containing those electric paddles that restart your heart. One call to 911 will alert one of my neighbors who has been trained and bring him to my side.
All the service people are used to dealing with us old folk who use coupons all the time to save some of their fixed income that was eaten away by medical bills. They do watch their money around here. Of course dinner time is before 5 because it is happy hour and the food is cheaper. Happy hour seems to be someone at any hour of the day. There are lots of problems with the elderly drinking and getting drunk in order to handle their problems, grief or looming death. DUI's are very common. Some formed a wife swapping club to do all the things they did not do when they were younger but had on their sexual bucket list. Most retired people here have kids and they were not able to go places that they always wanted to go. So they go on cruises, Disney World and many other places that my wife and I visited or done many times because we have no kids and a lot of extra disposable income.
On the Con side are dead quiet nights at 9 PM. Many go to bed as early as 7PM and wake up at 4am. The only thing you hear all day are the sirens of the roving EMS trucks. Yes, we have EMS trucks that are alway on the road so that there will always be one close to you. They are the reason why residents here die less frequently from heart attacks. However I sometimes view them as vultures waiting to pounce at the first sign of weakness. I know that they help but they also collect a few hundred dollars from Medicare and an additional $250 from the patient. The medical industry is very big business. Most are on Medicare so they know what they can get away with since Medicare pays first and rarely asks questions. My doctor prod me to take tests for things I have no symptoms of by calling it preventive medicine and yet those tests are the ones that their medical center makes money from. As the say, there is nothing better than a willing patient with a good insurance plan.
My skin scars from just a scratch. I cannot feel my finger tips most days or my toes. I am lucky if I can get 5-6 hours of sleep each night and I no longer try to get to bed early and just wait until I am too tired to stay awake any longer. There is also finances to consider. Will I outlive my money since my family all lived until their mid 90's despite smoking and eating poorly. On my Mother's side, they all developed Dementia at my current age and there is a fine line between memory problems from old age and dementia. My doctor told me that old age memory problems are when you cannot remember where you parked your car. Dementia is when you forget that you even own a car. I can retire fairly comfortable in two more years. All my debts have been paid and I have a small mortgage but still, unforeseen problems, that I do see happen to others, can wipe our your savings real fast. The stock market goes up and down pretty regularly now. No more are the days when your money would double every 8 years. I set aside enough for retirement that was supposed to give a million dollars at age 66. Lies, all lies.
I live among active adults. Those are old people who do all the things they did when they were young. The cheerleaders still give me chills when I see them. Women in their 60's and 70' wearing short cheerleader skirts. I will not even mention the belly dancing club. We have over 2000 organized events with about half of them active each day. It seems to people are making up for lost time and trying to beat death. In the morning you will find many people walking as soon as the sun rises. They play all sorts of sports. We even have a polo club with horses and real matches. Just a lot of old people trying to wring one more day out of life and despite their best efforts, death does not care what shape they are in.
So that is my take on old age. It sucks. I miss my younger days and sex life. It is no fun watching your body decompose slowly every year. Yet, I somehow manage to block all these depressing thoughts most of the time. You have to. You have to live for today and forget that you may die tomorrow like some that you know.
Vinny: You've got to get out of that depression. If what you listed is all that is wrong with you, you can go on for years yet.
I was able to put off retirement until I was 79. My kids are established, complete with children. And being retired took a bit of getting used to. No more having to be somewhere at some hour.
And yes, I forget words too. And I've got arthritis everywhere. And I too have a bucket filled with pill bottles. My hobby is visiting doctors.
And sure I could die tomorrow. I know it is coming, I just don't want to be around when it happens.
But then, being ill or dying or whatever have always been with us. We just pay more attention to them now.
I don't mean to sound so critical, but as one of the oldest goats on TAM I do tend to be grandfatherly toward young wippersnappers like you... After all, I am almost old enough to be your father.