If we are lucky, we get a chance to age well. If we are very lucky, we’ll recognize it and plan for it.
How? And what does “age well” even mean?
Our goals for aging well are probably not so different from the wide variation of goals throughout our lives.
We want to stay involved with our families. We want to keep our mental faculties and physical health. We want to stay engaged with the world around us. If possible, we want to keep on making some difference.
We do not want to fret all the time. We do not want to be constantly worried about the future that we are handing off to our descendants.
Many of these goals require an adaptive frame of mind and a willingness to accept some of the inevitable creeping up of reduced energy—sometimes lethargy—and willingness to tackle aging head on.
Keeping in touch with growing grandchildren takes work. They no longer use email; they grew up with texting and social media. Ugh! And they cannot quite figure us out because what they hear about us from their parents describes a world they do not see or comprehend.
Grandchildren with children are easier to deal with than children with children. Your children hold you responsible for mistakes you made with them and do not want your advice about how they raise their own children. But your grandchildren hold you blameless and welcome advice! Trust me, it’s worth the wait!
And then there is sex. No children, or any of their children, can or want to think about how they came to be. The idea of parents having sex shocks them out of their wits. They also seem to think that once they were immaculately conceived, all sex between their elders stopped. Sex is only for the young.
What they do not grasp is that sex is an important part of most of most people’s lives – until it isn’t.
A nice way of explaining that is the story about Oliver Wendell Holmes, the famous lawyer/jurist who went on the U.S. Supreme Court in his 60s, but never lost his eye for a pretty girl. One day, some 30 years later (at about 90), Holmes was lunching with a colleague at an outdoor café when a pretty girl walked by. Holmes exclaimed to his friend “Oh, to be 80 again!”
Oh, to be like Holmes, who died happily on the Court at 94.
He is my gold standard of aging well!!