I reached a milestone birthday this past weekend. No parades, no fireworks, and I respectfully social-distanced with my friends by not inviting them to a party. Instead, I passed a quiet evening with my honey at our favorite Italian restaurant, outside of course. And no gifts, please. I live in Florida now and have no need for any more scarves.
But now that I’ve crossed over into a new decade, I couldn’t help but wonder where exactly I landed on the aging spectrum. As many of you know, my chosen career path as a clinical speech pathologist was working with an “elderly” population. As a young middle-aged professional, I studied the field of aging and learned from the social scientists, Gerontologists I believed they’re called, about the arc of aging. They wrote about the “young old” and the “old old,” and the boundary between the two being defined by your last birthday.
Well, given that I was now four-score, that certainly was a sobering concept! And, while I’m still able to propel myself out of bed each morning, I was not going to take this lying down. Surely by now, with the ever-increasing life span, I suspected the parameters for what is old age must have shifted. And I was correct.
To demonstrate that my essays are not merely irrelevant, but also educational, I am about to share with you the latest studies defining sub-groups of the aging process. I discovered several hypotheses. To be perfectly honest, I rejected the study that defined “very old” as 80+. Instead, in the interest of staving off the inevitable, the following results were more to my liking: Young Old: 65-74; Middle Old: 75-84; and Old Old: 85+. (Sorry, honey, maybe you want to skip your next birthday.)
But if you, like I am, are an adherent of the “age is just a number” principle, you reject the notion of categorization based on chronology. Instead, you believe that functionality should be the guidepost. With that goal in mind, I present you with the following checklist. Rating yourself in the following categories should result in a more accurate representation of your true standing among the hyphenated numerical groupings stated above. Please respond honestly.
- Number of times you awaken to pee:
- 1 – 2
- You’re too tired in the morning to remember
- When putting on your underwear can you:
- Balance on one foot
- Balance on one foot but gently touch the adjacent wall
- Gave up balancing years ago, and sit on the edge of the bed
- When a light bulb burns out in an overhead light, do you feel safe:
- Standing on a two-step ladder
- Standing on a one-step ladder
- Calling the handyman
- With regard to driving:
- You still drive at night
- Ask your spouse to drive at night
- Call an Uber
- Alcohol Consumption:
- Can still handle a scotch, neat, without making a fool of yourself
- Used to handle a scotch, neat, but now request it with ice
- Pretend to order a scotch, then secretly ask the waiter for a Diet Coke in a rocks glass.
- The loudness level of the TV does not drive your spouse from the room
- The loudness of the TV does drive your spouse from the room.
- The loudness of the TV causes your neighbor to call the police.
- For Women:
- You can still hook your bra behind your back
- You can only hook your bra in the front then twist it around to the back
- You’ve given up wearing a bra altogether.
- You can get up from the couch in one try
- You can get up from the couch in two tries
- You claim the couch is quite comfortable and decide to sleep there
- Your Offspring
- Your children are beginning to look middle-age
- Your children are middle-age
- Your children are now eligible to live in the same adult community as you do
- You remember what you ate for breakfast yesterday
- You remember what you ate for breakfast this morning
- What’s breakfast?
I hope you found these 10 categories helpful in determining your standing in this third-stage of life. But if your honest answers were mostly “Cs,” don’t despair. You’re not alone. As the wise man said: “Remember, inside every older person there’s a younger person wondering what the hell happened!”