Thoughts on Turning 65
by Vera Mehta,Ed.D. April 2013
I was trying to think what I wanted to write about as the first Yaffe/Ruden Chronicle after 6 years since the last one. Since I’m a “baby boomer” (beginning to dislike that term) who turned 65 this past February, I’ve been pondering the implications of my new status for a while now. I figured it might be a good idea to air aloud some of these reflections because many of the patients in our practice belong to the same generation and may be going through the same mixed feelings as they adjust to crossing the threshold into Senior Citizenship!
The good stuff: First, I got my new half-price “Senior Citizen” Metro card which thrills me every time I use it. Second, I have yet to go to a first-run movie in Manhattan for $5 or $6, but I feel very smug, knowing that I can. Third, my children and grandchildren threw me a lovely birthday party to which they invited all the people who are or have become near and dear to my heart in the last 50 years. They all said very nice things about me. Definitely good to be queen, even if just for the day.
The not-so-good stuff: This has been happening for a while. It did not just start the morning I woke up 65 years old. Aches and pains in unexpected places that don’t meekly go away if you ignore them long enough. Crusty French bread and good cheese turn out to be terrible for your triglycerides. (I have nothing against dark Scandinavian breads but sometimes they just don’t cut it. Also, they don’t look as pretty next to a bottle of wine in a picnic basket on summer evenings listening to Opera in the Parks). Dental insurance, or the lack thereof, take center stage in recurrent nightmares of all one’s teeth falling out and the scary prospect of only being able to smile with lips tightly clamped together.
And so it goes on. A never-ending battle between hypochondria and genuine health concerns. There comes the sorrowful, semi-humorous realization that old age cannot be held at bay forever, no matter how much Botox we inject, how much we spend on hair transplants or Viagra and how many supplements a day we consume. We ARE going to get old. The good news is we have a CHOICE about the way we grow old-we can bloom all the way through our 50’s, 60s, 70s and 80s or we can start shriveling up after we hit 40.
Here at Yaffe/Ruden the quest goes on to help patients take charge of their own health and show them that eternal youth is NOT an impossible goal as long we are willing to re-define it in terms of body, mind, heart and soul. ALL must be accounted for when attaching a number to age. Dr. Yaffe claims he plans to be 34 forever. I believe that he will. For myself, I feel as if my late 50s were the years I truly started growing into the person I want to be. Life is not perfect. I just had a root canal and anxiously examine my teeth in the mirror every morning for signs of “old person’s teeth and gums”. My right hip has lately started bothering me. I dutifully take my supplements like Omega 3 fish oil and Vitamin D-3 in the thousands of milligrams that the docs here assure me, will keep me dancing on top of tables well into my 90s. I have just scheduled my yearly check-up using my new Medicare card.
But this is not enough. It never was. When was it ever true that youth + good physical health= happiness? Who does not remember the angst of adolescence, the misery of too-early marriages, the inability to enjoy the moment because of the constant fear that everybody else is doing something more exciting or interesting? What IS true is that the mind, heart and soul need as much attention and nurturing as the container in which they are housed. And that idea is what I will continue to explore in the Chronicles.
As always, I would like these Chronicles to be seen as an on-going conversation between the folks working at Yaffe/Ruden and the patients and would be delighted to receive feed-back, comments and YOUR thoughts and ideas on what you want to talk or read about in future Chronicles.