The Aging in Aging in Place

I am entering my 7th year as an Aging in Place advocate. During that tenure, I have attended conferences, taken courses, gone to countless meetings, met with hundreds of retirees, organized events across the state and, yes, written these columns. In spite of all that, I recently had it demonstrated to me that I really didn’t ‘get it’.
My emphasis has been on the Place in Aging in Place. Since I turned 60 in August, that emphasis has shifted to the Aging.
It started a few months before my birthday. During a break at the Governor’s Summit on Poverty in Montpelier, I moved from my very uncomfortable chair to a nearby cushioned seat to talk with a colleague. When the young lady in whose chair I was seated returned, I started to get up. “Oh, no, sir”, she kindly said, “You keep that chair. It’s much softer for you.” I was cut to the quick, but I thanked her and kept the chair.
Then the nice folks at the pharmacy began offering me the senior discount. This generosity is now spreading to other stores.
A sciatica episode didn’t make me feel any younger, either. Wasn’t it Grandpa on the Real McCoy’s TV show who used to complain, “My siaticee is actin’ up”?
Perhaps the worst blow is that when my age is asked and I say I’m 60, it’s greeted with silence. Up through my 50’s people were always insisting, “No! You look so much younger!”
There are lots of other little indignities that seem to be accumulating on me. People are holding doors open for me more often. Those who are not clearly older than I am appear to be vastly younger.
So, I’m actually starting to feel like I’m getting older: aging. On the whole I don’t mind living longer, but getting older is a real blow to the ego. It feels like . . . well it feels like my father looked!
The odd thing is, inside myself, I haven’t aged at all. I’m still the same person I was 10 or 20 years ago. I haven’t changed. What has changed is how I’m treated and what is expected of me.
Years ago, in a poem, I described aging as being a time traveler. I am becoming more aware of that journey. Something different is seeping into my consciousness, informing me about this journey through time that I am on. There is an end. As I begin to comprehend that in a personal way, how I view and experience everything else is changing. It is as if life is coming into a sharper focus. Time is more personal. I am more sensitive about it. Whether getting older is good or bad will largely be determined by how I deal with it.
Aging touches who we are and how we are touched. It may not be bad, but it certainly isn’t a frolic through a field of daisies, either. Aging in Place, it doesn’t happen by accident (but it can certainly come as a surprise).

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About the author

Scott Funk has specialized in Home Equity Conversion Mortgage reverse mortgages for over a decade. He is a recognized Aging in Place advocate in his home state of Vermont. His monthly newspaper column Aging in Place has run for 7 years in 24 papers around the state. Scott is brings a lighthearted approach to his talks on Boomers, retirement and aging on purpose.

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