Honey. I didn’t like it when I was young, and I don’t like it now. Adorable? That’s for someone you might want to hold on your lap. Sweetheart? That’s for a special someone, not a customer in a grocery store.
Old bag, crone, geezer, battle-ax, old-timer all fall into the category of disrespect for older people. It’s called Elderspeak.
Companies lure us into thinking we all can be young forever if we use their products. Forever young is the message, as if the alternative is unspeakable. Whether you go that route or settle more comfortably into a self-care routine that focuses on your health and vitality, it’s inevitable that you will be treated differently as you grow older in many subtle and unintentional ways.
It’s called ageism.
Consciousness has risen regarding sexism, racism, homophobia and other ways of discriminating. Ageism needs to be looked at as well. After all, it’s the only “ism” I can think of that will affect every human lucky enough to live a long life.
Can you think of a situation where you have experienced ageism? It can be expressed in a person’s choice of words anywhere, including the workplace. It can happen in a doctor’s office when a medical symptom is attributed to your age, when its actual cause might be an injury, or perhaps your lifestyle.
Is your high blood pressure – or your achy knees – attributed to your age, when the real cause may be your diet or too much or too little exercise?
I spent many hours talking with my aunt who lived to age 98. She had many ailments toward the end of life, but she chose to talk about current events in the family and beyond. Sage advice was integrated into our conversations. She remained proud and confident to the end. That’s a model I treasure.
In the public realm, Dolly Parton, Gloria Steinem, Diane von Furstenburg, Tony Bennett and other notables demonstrate the richness of a long life. They expand rather than limit their experiences. You can too if you surround yourself with people, young and old, who see you first for who you are and view your age as only one part of you. Look for people who inspire you and live with vitality and enthusiasm.
We each know our chronological age. It’s the number of years we have been on the planet. What’s more important is our biological age. It’s how old or young our body is based upon how it’s been cared for. That is the true key to vitality and will influence our future.
Growing older in a youth-obsessed culture can trigger all sorts of fears and feelings of powerlessness. Instead, think about what you want to be doing with your precious life. What gives you joy and mojo? What excites you enough that you can’t wait for morning to come? If you take care of yourself, you’ll have far more chance of fulfilling your dreams.
As a lifelong wellness coach, I’m pretty convinced that our thinking, our attitudes, our actions – and the thinking, attitudes and actions of those around us – greatly influence our chances of maintaining lifelong wellness and happiness.
Our thinking may manifest in thoughts that support or negate the chances for lifelong wellness. “I support my body with nourishing foods” or “It’s too late for me – my body’s a train wreck.” Which is closer to your thinking? Which might increase your chances of staying well through your older years?
We all have days when we wish we were younger. When you are feeling down or anxious about it, stop and look at your thoughts and how they may be triggering these feelings. Thoughts belong to you, and you have the power to change them when they are not working for you.
Pay attention to your thoughts, be proud of who you are and know you have gifts to share in the whole time you are here on the planet. And don’t let strangers call you honey if you don’t want them to.
Have you been called ‘honey’, ‘darling’ or ‘sweetheart’ by strangers? How did that make you feel? Are there younger people in your life who consciously try to treat you with respect for the wise woman you are?
Tags Getting Older