Cheerfully accepting a ‘happy old age’ Print
Grand Mom
Thursday, Aug. 23, 2012 -- 12:00 AM

Grandmom column by Audrey Fixmer“I can’t do what I used to do.” How many times have we said or heard those words?

It’s such a common refrain among people in their 60s or older. Early on it may be spoken with a tinge of surprise, but often (God forbid) with a whine.

How do we avoid that stage? We do something else. Or we do the same thing in a different way. We adapt. But we keep on doing something.

It was when my husband was in a nursing home for three years that I decided to do everything I could to avoid that life of rocking chairs and walkers.

I will live alone (with help), keep active in my church and women’s clubs (even if I must share rides), and keep on challenging my brain with bridge games and computers. God willing I will “die with my boots on” as they said in the old Wild West.

You know that line from the Bible, “Pride goeth before the fall?” Those words take on a whole new meaning when we age, don’t they? Knowing that our bones are brittle and a fall can cost us our independence, we learn to swallow that pride and use a cane when our balance might be a little off.

Later on we learn the wonderful security we can enjoy with a walker.

And wheelchairs? Great invention! I will be boarding one in a few hours at the airport. Relieved that I don’t have to struggle with my carry-on bag walking miles (it seems) down the long concourse to my gate, the airlines will have another waiting for me at my destination in New Jersey, and my son will be there to pick me up at baggage. At 84 I can still travel alone. What a great world we live in!

I have a friend my age who, like me, has shrunk several inches and now walks with a cane. She holds her head high and steps confidently with an air of pride. One would think that cane was actually a royal scepter. She commands respect.

It does seem that our attitude toward aging — a cheerful acceptance of not being able to “do what we did before” — is the clue to a happy old age. I will try to remember that when every bone is aching.

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