Many women age 70 and above often complain to me, "Old age is such a bitch".
Usually, my response is, "Well, yes, old age may be a bitch, but it doesn't have to be.. " You've heard the expression, "Life is what you make it"? It's not just a saying, It's true.
Old age may seem to be a bitch because of poor health, loneliness, financial problems, or you don't look like you used to look, but here's the reality: if you still can complain, you can change things. You may not be able to do a lot, but often you can do more than you think you can if you make up your mind to TRY. Just the act of trying is energizing.
Let's think about things said to plague older people -- and what to do about it.
"I'm a victim": There may be more than a few of us who are noncompos mentis, but if we are smart enough to be on a computer, then we are smart enough to smell a phishing scam a mile away. Who in sound mind would respond to an email from Nigeria or anyplace else promising millions of dollars from a dead uncle (we never had) if we send $500 to remove a government lock on the money?
What to do instead: If you have $500 to throw away, buy a couple of shares of McDonald's stock and watch it grow. It's easy to start. Open an account at Schwab or another investment firm.
(Very early in life, when poor but hopeful, I invested $200 I couldn't afford in McDonalds stock. It grew and continues to grow. I have given shares of it to grandchildren and the stock is still worth far more than I paid for it. The price will go up and down, but as the TV commercial for the chicken fryer recommends, "Set it and forget it." No, your advanced age does not make it too late to purchase.)
Loneliness: Many lonely older people looking for love go on a dating site with the expectation of finding a perfect partner. Possible? Of course. Likely? No. Dr. Phil has aired more than a couple of shows demonstrating how older adults looking for love get the financial ride of their lives. It's sad, but loneliness can lead to desperation.
What to do instead: Volunteer to help others who are emotionally needier than you are. In giving of ourselves, we may find the love we want. We get so many unexpected gifts when we help others.
Living life in memories: Many older adults have nothing but memories to keep them occupied. They don't realize that they can volunteer or get a job if they are mentally and physically competent. It doesn't matter what the job is along as it provides emotional satisfaction.
I recall a Shark Tank TV episode where a young woman knitted purses as a business and was looking for women to help. She went to a nearby retirement community and found a treasure trove of older women who loved to knit and were excellent paid employees. It was a win-win for everyone but especially for retirees who found a new purpose in life. Not only that, but their personalities came back to life. They looked and felt better because they were useful. They were grateful they were provided a "nudge" to get back into the flow of the "real world."
What to do instead: Get a job, any job that will take you outside of yourself. Leisure oriented retirement is a government construct that leads to inevitable decline. Don't ever dismiss the value of work for your mind and body. Use it or lose it.
Misery loves company: One of many things I don't like about retirement communities and government programs for seniors is that there are too many opportunities to find "misery loves company" companions. While it may promote a camaraderie of sorts, it's not healthy.
What to do instead: Develop your own "senior center" of like-minded rebels with a positive mindset, determined to survive and help each other overcome the roadblocks of life, and welcome the advantages of advanced age, and be of service to "non-members."
Yes, in so many ways, old age can be a bitch. But it doesn't have to be. If mentally competent, there are so many things that can be done to make "old age" better and even joyful for yourself and others. Don't ever think or believe you are "too old" to do what your soul and psyche are begging you to do. Be brave and be daring. You can do it!
Barbara Morris, R.Ph. is a pharmacist, author of "The New Put Old on Hold" and a recognized authority on health and anti-aging strategies. Sign up for her monthly Put Old on Hold Newsletter