Aging in Place

Joe Pilates Aging in Place. I think he's in his fifties in this picture.

Joe Pilates Aging in Place. I think he’s in his fifties in this picture.

Aging in place is the concept that you can stay in your own home and community safely as you age.  Baby Boomers have started a trend of remodeling their homes to enable them to stay in one place as they get older.  We can make adjustments to our home, but what about to our bodies?

I’ve noticed a lot of family, friends and clients talking about getting older—movement feeling different in their body, new aches and pains they never had before, and certain exercises getting harder than they used to be.  Perhaps it’s just a phase and timing like when you are a certain age there is a year or two where everyone is getting married.  A few years later your schedule is packed with baby showers.  I guess I currently know a number of people that are hitting a milestone age that makes them stop, think, feel, reminisce, and remind them that time is fleeting.

It’s a challenge to know how to handle changes in our body as we get older.  Each day is a new discovery.  We’ve never been ourselves in our new body.  We have no comparison.  We don’t know if what we are feeling is something to look into or just the normal aging process.  And, the only body we truly have to compare ourselves to is our younger selves.   And that can be a bit of a problem.

When most forty-year-olds see a twenty-year-old appear to do something with ease that they struggle with they aren’t surprised.  “Of course that’s easier for them, they are twenty years younger than me,” would be the presumption.  Yet somehow we forget that twenty years have passed in our own body.  We have a hard time accepting that what we did with ease at twenty may not come as easily at forty.  What we did at forty will feel different at sixty, more often than not.  We are always judging ourselves against our youth—a youth that will almost always have an unfair advantage.

I catch myself doing it too.  You may be able to do the same movement, but now it’s harder and instead of being impressed that you still do you, you are critical that it doesn’t feel the same.  We think we can still get the AC unit in and out of the window without help.  And we feel like we shouldn’t need help because we used to be able to do it.  The changes can be frustrating, but it isn’t all bad.  Did you ever really enjoy the process of installing the AC?  Let someone help.  One task off your hands.

This is currently the best back bend I've got.

This is currently the best back bend I’ve got.

When I was a kid I could bend backwards and touch my head to my toes.  I’m not sure when that skill left, but it’s gone.  Whenever I tell Matt that getting older beats the alternative, he always responds, “ You mean eternal youth?”  Until we actually discover the fountain of youth getting older is a privilege not everyone enjoys, but, let’s be real, it comes with challenges.  Still, here are some things to keep in mind that might help a little or at least on certain days.

Just a few ways to feel better about aging:

  • In my experience working with lots of people and lots of bodies, most people know their body better at 40 than they do at 20. That’s a good thing.  We seem to get more self-aware.  And, it’s not just that our body forces us to pay attention with extra creeks, cracks, and pain.  People seem to gain a deeper understanding of their body as they age and in that regard they start to move better or at least with more intention.

 

  • You can totally teach an old dog new tricks. Life may bring us more injuries and possibly some restrictions in movement with every new month, but that doesn’t mean we can’t conquer a new or old goal.  Retirement can bring extra free time to experiment and play with new challenges.  I’m currently working on a handstand and some other moves that I’ve never been able to do.  I’m fully convinced I will get there.

Slowly perfecting my headstand.

Slowly perfecting my headstand.

 

  • You know more. Ask nearly anyone if they would be willing to step back in time to be their thirty-year-old self or twenty or sixteen-year-old self.  If you have to give up what you’ve learned everyone I ask says, “No way, Jose.”  Don’t forget what you’d have to give up to be “young” again.

 

  • Health is not a guarantee at any age. There are young people who get sick or deal with extreme health concerns.  If you are getting older and you have some extra aches and pains, you should look into it and make sure they don’t get worse, but it’s worth remembering the healthy life you’ve experienced to date.

 

  • And, if none of those perks sell you, as you get older, you can go to be at 9pm and it’s totally cool. I’ve been telling myself that my whole life anyway.

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2018-02-14T16:54:01+00:00

About the Author:

Maggie Downie
Thank you for giving your time to stop and read my blog. I hope it encourages you to keep moving. Move and the body will be happier. And when you're moving you can hike, run, swim in Jell-O, race over non-Newtonian fluids, travel the world or build igloos--if that's your thing. If not, you can watch me do it. This is just a spot to try and feel good about life.

4 Comments

  1. Deborah Bax March 1, 2017 at 8:36 pm - Reply

    Maggie, is this pep talk meant to help us “oldies” feel better when you are posting pictures of yourself looking extremely agile??? It’s all about perspective anyway: your ninety-one year old grandma likes to say, “Oh to be 65 again.”

  2. Maggie March 1, 2017 at 9:00 pm - Reply

    I guess a little bit more of what I was trying to say is how we compare ourselves to our younger selves who always have an unfair advantage. I love that exercise, but I know I used to be able to touch my head to my feet so it annoys me every time I try it and can’t anymore. You see it and are perhaps impressed or maybe you think, “of course Maggie can do that.” You don’t presume you should be able to do it unless it’s something you’ve done. You are right though, it is totally all about perspective. I was trying to make it positive because none of us get to be our younger selves again…so we might as well find the positives where we are during this moment in time.

  3. Lisa Steimer March 1, 2017 at 9:04 pm - Reply

    Love this line – ‘We’ve never been ourselves in our new body.’ So true. Thanks, Maggie!

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