WHEN TO ADMIT YOU’RE GETTING OLD

Always wear a helmet!

I’ve always wondered how people know they’re old. Most of my friends continue to deny the state and despise the terms “older adult,” “senior,” “fragile-frail,” “aging.” People who have time and interest to study such things decided “old” seems to be further off the older you get. When interviewed, of those in the 75+ category, only 35% say they “feel old.”

I fell into that category until recently, when I attempted a ten-mile bike ride from Frisco to Breckenridge in Colorado. We’d visited the popular destinations frequently, although the last time was three or four years ago. Each time we’d bike to at least one distant destination. Frisco’s altitude is just over 9000 feet, with Breckenridge about 500 feet higher; and since we life in Denver (the Mile High City), I thought I was set to go.

Although I achieved my goal, I took twice the amount of time and my heart was pounding much of the trip, something that never had occurred before. In fact, my respiration rate bordered on breathless. I wound up hopping on the free bus shuttle for the return trip, with the help of the nice driver who boosted my bike into the carrier (I’m too short to do this).

Do I blame the covid lockdown? No, for I’ve actually increased my aerobic exercising over the months. Could the cause be my mysterious autoimmune disease? Maybe, although I don’t get breathless at any other time. Should I, horrors!, admit age is creeping up on me, altitude affects me more, and I’m not as chipper. . .or young. . .as I used to be? This seems the most likely, despite my emotional recoil at the thought.

My reaction to disturbing ideas, honed over the years, is to attempt to correct my weakness, physical or otherwise. So I’ve pulled out a small tablet, tied on a pen, and resolved to go up and down my one flight of stairs an ever-increasing number of times daily. Right now, I’m at twice, but I only started today.

My journals, notes, and notebooks are crammed full of good resolutions and to-do lists to achieve goals. I remember even in high school I’d promise faithfully each summer to study my French regularly for half-an-hour daily. In college, the registers more frequently were lists of clothes to wear and buy. Young adulthood, the records tended toward money as I saved for a European stay, then to buy needed supplies for babies. Back in the job market, the registers included positions for which I was qualified and where I’d submitted applications.

I’ll see what shakes out. On the positive side, my years have taught me not to demand perfection because I’ll always be disappointed. I’m not terribly optimistic I’ll return to the respiration level of a forty-year-old. As my physical therapist tells me, “You’re hoping to stay stable or improve a bit, not set records.” I be satisfied to aim for a yeoman’s effort, whatever that is. (I found out! Click on link for info.) And I suppose I’ll be forced to admit I’m getting old.

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