March 2020

Stop the Clock! I Don’t Want to Get Old!

Author: Linda S. Hopkins

Does the face you see in the mirror conflict with who you are inside? Is the “real” you younger, more vibrant, less road weary? Many boomers report this phenomenon and are trying to figure out how to bridge the gap. I am one of them.

Most of us who were born during the baby boom (between 1946 and 1964) grew up with a concept of what it looks like to be a senior citizen. I think back to my paternal grandmother in a dowdy cotton house dress with her tightly curled gray hair and paper-thin, veiny hands, rocking her life away in front of the television with her embroidery in her lap. A couple of generations ago, people pretty much accepted their biological fate. No one seemed terribly worried about aging, and it was perfectly normal to slow down and shrivel up at mid-life.

As I embark on my sixty-third year living outside the womb, I don’t feel that old, but my reflection serves up a daily dose of reality. I see the familiar face I’ve known all my life but with a few scary alterations.

I remember the first time a grocery clerk offered me a senior discount. I was not particularly happy, even though it saved me a buck or two. Surely I don’t look that old, I thought. And then I glanced at myself in the rearview mirror on the way out of the parking lot….

I’m not sure when it happened—when my eyes got crinkly, my jaw line started sagging, and my fanny fell to the floor. Come to think of it, my hands are now webbed with bulging blue tributaries, much like my grandmother’s.

It’s funny/not funny how age creeps up—like the bogeyman, only real. One day we are young, bursting with energy and smooth all over, and the next thing we know, we need some replacement parts and a good ironing.

It doesn’t really happen overnight. That would be too great a shock. It happens gradually over time, and we hardly notice … until we do, like getting a glimpse of ourselves in a funhouse mirror—our bodies distorted by gravity and our faces like Google maps on canvas. Thankfully, our eyesight begins to dim around the same time, which makes the view slightly less frightening. Nevertheless, low wattage light bulbs and candlelight are recommended to ward off sudden heart attacks. Oh, and ladies, avoid 10X mirrors except when applying eye makeup. Forget the selfies, too, because the camera sees everything you don’t want to see.

All jokes aside, age has never been a big deal to me, and I’ve always believed I would age gracefully. But I would be lying to say I’m not bothered by the changes that have sneaked up over the last few years.

The aging process is certainly humbling, but here’s the deal. If I had the opportunity to go back in time, I’m not so sure I would. While I wouldn’t mind looking like I did 30 years ago, I would not want to relive that period of my life. Not that it was bad. It wasn’t—just different. Each trip around the sun has held its own style of adventure, and each decade has brought new experiences, new challenges and new rewards. Each year has been the best and the worst, the map on my face showing a well-worn path of laugh lines, tear tracks, shock and surprise—every “fine line” earned.

How boomers are putting the brakes on aging
No one chooses to look or feel old, although few are excited about the alternative. While we can’t stop time, and most of us wouldn’t if we could, we are blessed with many options for putting the brakes on the aging process. Our faces and bodies are subject to the effects of age, but we don’t have to be content to let the ravages of time be the deciding factor in our quality of life. If a knee starts giving us trouble, it’s no longer a life sentence to sit in a rocker and turn to mush. When our sex lives begin to wane, there are new alternatives for restoring vim and vigor. And if we are dissatisfied with our aging appearance, there isn’t much that can’t be lifted, tucked, tightened, frozen, filled or shrunk.

From the availability of plastic surgery and innovative cosmetic enhancement procedures to modern hair coloring products and styling techniques, advanced dentistry, and promising new orthopedic interventions, we don’t have to take aging lying down.

But here’s what we do have to do. We must accept where we are in life and make the most of every day. A cheerful countenance and a contented heart will go a long way towards not only an attractive appearance but a personal magnetism that is ageless. I’ve come to realize that what makes the golden years golden is the opportunity to see ourselves as whole and complete—our fading looks only a genetic fraction of our being.

How to Look and Feel Good at Any Age
If you are like me and believe that the next magic cream, lotion or serum is going to restore your youthful good looks, I hate to burst your bubble. Quality skincare products and cosmetics are essential for keeping skin looking its best, but nothing in a jar or tube is going to turn back time or stop the clock.

The fountain of youth is a myth. Regardless of how much of the Kool-Aid we drink, much of how we age has been in our hands all along and is still within our control. The key to a more youthful appearance and better quality of life as we age lies within our overall health, which ties in to our most basic lifestyle choices. Here are a few tried-and-true tips for looking and feeling good at any age:

Eat nutritious foods. Go ahead and OD on fruits and vegetables. Looking and feeling your best is an inside-out job, and nutrition is where the magic begins!

Drink less alcohol. Want to look and feel years younger? Stop drinking alcohol or cut back. Potential side effects include weight loss, improved skin tone, brighter eyes, and a clear head.

Add water. Like a lifeless plant will revive with a drink of water, so our bodies will perk up with proper hydration.

Say no to smoking. If smoking doesn’t kill you, it will age you prematurely. There is nothing attractive or youthful about yellow teeth, sallow skin and smoker’s lips.

Practice good skin care. Get into a routine of cleansing, exfoliating, and hydrating, and be sure to wear sun protection during daytime hours. Your future face will reward you.

Get moving! Even moderate amounts of physical activity can shave years off your age by improving blood flow and increasing oxygen intake. With health benefits too numerous to name, exercise is the most miraculous anti-aging tool you can have in your arsenal.

Home in on the positive. Nothing ages us faster than a negative attitude towards life. Look for the good in people and find opportunities for growth within your challenges. For an instant face lift, put on a smile.

Practice kindness. In the big picture, the most beautiful people are those who make others feel loved and appreciated. Practice kindness in all that you do and say, and your spirit will remain forever young.

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