Aging and Blazing New Trails: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Margery Fridstein, an 80-something licensed professional counselor and part-time writer, shares witty, pragmatic, and oldcouplethoughtful perspectives on growing older from her perch at Vi, a continuing care retirement community in Highlands Ranch in Colorado…

My grandfather died in his 50s; my mother died in her late 70s. And here I am with that heredity, popping a few pills and living a strong, active life in my 80s. Strange, isn’t it? Aging has changed, and my friends and I are blazing new trails.

The other day my editor sent me an e-mail. I answered it. Then the phone rang. When the call was over, I went back to my computer and thought, Did I send that email? Being in the process of mastering a new MacBook Air, I wasn’t quite sure where to look. So I looked in my mind—and the memory was gone. Three minutes after the action: absolutely blank. Sure, I could send her another, but I hate to seem like the old lady I am.

Related: Moms Need to Take Care of Themselves Without Guilt

Bob and I decided to move from the Aspen area to Denver when he stopped skiing on his 90th birthday and needed more oxygen. On our search for senior housing, a friend invited us to visit her community near Boulder. All went well until we had lunch in the dining room. Everyone looked so old. Even though I was in my mid-70s, I thought: ‘Can I live with all these old people?’

My husband died unexpectedly the year after we moved to Vi. Losing Bob was like losing part of myself; I am such a little lump in the king-size bed we bought when we moved in. At Vi, there are lots of us—women who are alone.

olderwomenFunny but true: Each time I buy Costco’s huge package of toilet paper, I wonder if I will live long enough to use it up.

Bring your adult child with you to your doctor, and your doctor often talks to her as though you don’t exist.

Related: Emptying the Nest – A Time of Sorrow, Hope & Renewed Independence

“Because we are living so much longer, we are living with lots of awful stuff no one likes to talk about. They are the secret ailments of aging: bladder leakage, insomnia, hearing loss, visual loss. I don’t think anyone told our eyes, ears, teeth, joints, and bones that they are expected to last as long as our hearts seem able to continue beating.

My life now is easy, active. Sure I miss the beauty of the 20 years I lived in the mountains. I miss my dear friends. I deeply miss my husband. However, I know it’s OK to miss the things you love. Finding new interests, new people, and feeling safe and cared for is what’s important now.

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Category: Family, Loss & Grieving, Marriage, Relationships

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About Margery Fridstein, MA, LPC: Margery Fridstein is a private practice psychotherapist, currently in private practice in Denver, Colorado. She previously worked in Glencoe, Illinois and Aspen, Colorado. Margery holds degrees from Northwestern University and Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis. She [...]
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