We all know successful aging requires adjustments. If we demand of ourselves what we could do at 50 when we are 60 or 70, there will be a price to pay. It’s part of growing older and is unavoidable no matter how fit, healthy, and active we might be. We can call it pacing, accommodation, compromise, or adjustments, but it all means the same thing: modifying our behavior and expectations to reflect the reality of who we are and how we are, at our place in time.
So why, knowing I can’t handle the sun, did I insist on weeding in the heat and humidity until incapacitated several times before accepting I can’t labor in those conditions like I used to? Is it as Mark Twain said about being 70, “I recognize it, but I don’t realize it.”
In the garage, I’ve had to hang a target dangling at the point the car must stop. That was not enough; another was required next to the steel pole in the middle of the garage, because I only missed hitting it by an inch. My lovely wife smiles, knowing I can hit the pole, as I’ve done it with her car. ’Hard to believe I used to park cars on dealer lots so close together the mirrors almost touched, without ever scratching or denting a vehicle.
An 85-year-old client and I were discussing our favorite Scotches when cocktail hour arrived. He poured me a nice drink with a little ice and himself a glass nearly filled with water and ice and just a splash of Scotch. Seeing my face, he responded, “You wait. All I’m allowed is the smell, but it reminds me of when I used to drink Scotch, so I put up with it.”
Presently, a physical therapist (PT) is teaching me correct body mechanics so I don’t hurt myself shoveling (that’s what got me into PT in the first place), rolling over in bed, or bending down to pick something up.
Turns out, we aren’t supposed to be bending over at all. Instead, we need to climb down to the floor and retrieve whatever is down there, and then climb back up again, without ever bending our backs or looking like we were capable of that maneuver in the first place. You’d be surprised how few things I now encounter that are worth picking up.
We need to accept all these adjustments because they enable us to remain independent, active, and relatively pain-free. We are negotiating with time; it takes a little away and we accommodate to get a little back. An ebb and flow in a tug of war we are losing. We hold on, not in the hope of winning, but aware that so long as we are battling, we have not lost and time has not yet won. We are hold our own as best we can, for as long as we are able.

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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.