By Judith Whitehead
I can’t believe I will turn 65 years old in December. My mind still feels like I’m a teenager, but not so much the body.
What used to be old age many years ago is no longer the case. I remember when I thought of my parents at 65, I thought they were ancient. Of course the life expectancy then was 75 to 80. If you made it until then you were considered reaching a ripe old age.
Now with the advances in health maintenance and prevention, it is not unusual to reach 90 to 100 and still live a meaningful life. I have had many patients in that age range who are amazing. I always ask them the question, “what do you attribute to reaching this ripe age?” I get some of the same funny answers such as “I never had kids” or “I never married” or “I grew up on a farm which made me strong,” but most agree that it was pure good lucky genes that brought them thus far.
Believe it or not, since I carry my own health insurance I have been somewhat looking forward to reaching Medicare age and saving some money. I have cut my work hours back to three long days; after working 10 hours each day, I have to admit I am tired. I am an early riser anyway, but when you know you have to get up by 5 a.m. it’s another story.
I have noticed at this age the body does move a bit slower, and mornings require a hearty breakfast and maybe some Motrin to alleviate those aches and pains. But when Tuesday comes along, I can psyche myself into saying half my work week is almost over and I look forward to my four-day weekend every week. I am living the best of both worlds; still working in my field and enjoying a few days to do whatever I need to or want to do; meeting up with friends, going to appointments or just enjoying the day.
With the cost of living rising every day and the state of our economy, I do question just how long I can afford to live in my accustomed lifestyle. What will change when I someday stop working? Will my health hold out? These are questions that pop into my mind from time to time.
Of course there are no clear-cut answers; good health and work seem to go hand in hand. If the delicate balance is interrupted, the answer will become quite clear. One does not work if the other if broken.
My husband and I have been very lucky. Our little medical setbacks have become manageable and we are still able to do the things we enjoy such as travel and spend time with family and friends. So many people we know have not had such good luck, and we have lost many friends and acquaintances over the last few years.
The ugly word cancer seems to rear its nasty head so many times and although many cures are in the works, the cure still seems to come too slowly after all these years of research.
So for today, I am still grateful to open my eyes every morning and move of my own volition. My motto is “things could always be worse,” and when I incur any obstacles in my way, I always believe that my problems are very insignificant compared to the rest of the world.
So, until I retire or win the lottery, whichever comes first, I guess I will be working for a bit longer, praying my health holds up. I guess 65 years old is not that old after all and my favorite mantra has become, “Do you offer a senior discount?”
Judith Whitehead, of East Amherst, will get her Medicare card in December.