Every morning for the past 6 months, prior to going into work, I visit our post office box to check for business mail and then pop right across the street to the McDonald’s drive-through to order my medium McCafe coffee with two creams and two sugars. This exercise is two-fold: one, to make sure I am personally using a product manufactured by one of our nearest and dearest clients – and two, to ingest the caffeine this 54-year-old, aging, formerly athletic, tired and cranky researcher needs in order to face the spreadsheets with the anticipated enthusiasm these same beloved clients deserve.
Let me remind you – I am a 54-year-old, 55+ older adult researcher. The lines are becoming rather blurred. McDonald’s was kind enough to reinforce this the other day when I picked up my coffee and the girl at the window took one look at me and said – “Oh, you should be getting the SENIOR discount!” – really? I LOOK like a senior now? ….please, be so kind as to bear with my rambling dissertation on growing old.
According to the Mayo Clinic (http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/healthy-aging/in-depth/aging/art-20046070), these are a few of the awesome changes in our bodies we can expect as we get older:
Your cardiovascular system
As you age, your heart rate becomes slightly slower and your heart might become bigger. Your blood vessels and your arteries also become stiffer, causing your heart to work harder to pump blood through them. This can lead to high blood pressure (hypertension) and other cardiovascular problems.
Your bones, joints and muscles
With age, bones tend to shrink in size and density — which weakens them and makes them more susceptible to fracture. You might even become a bit shorter. Muscles generally lose strength and flexibility, and you might become less coordinated or have trouble balancing.
Your digestive system
Constipation is more common in older adults. Many factors can contribute to constipation, including a low-fiber diet, not drinking enough fluids and lack of exercise. Medications — such as diuretics and iron supplements — and certain medical conditions — such as diabetes and irritable bowel syndrome — also might contribute to constipation.
Your bladder and urinary tract
Loss of bladder control (urinary incontinence) is common with aging. Medical conditions, such as diabetes, might contribute to incontinence — as can menopause, for women, and an enlarged prostate, for men.
URINARY INCONTINENCE? Wait, what????
Well you get the idea. You start to pee your pants and everything goes downhill from there. Or does it?
Back in my glorious 40’s I was in the best shape of my life. My kids were almost grown and my business was humming along, so I was able to work out at the gym every day, do a little tanning, have fabulous dinners with my friends and colleagues – and be in bed by 10PM every night. I thought I would look and feel this way forever.
Then 50 came.
First it was the little things – those pesky little lines around my eyes and mouth; the thinning of my already-skimpy hair; cosmetic things. But soon to follow were those big ticket items that turn a MILF into a GMNWF (figure it out geniuses.) Aches and pains that come and go – no sleep, hot flashes, memory blips, fog-headed, wearing CLARKS sandals with my high-waisted-pants kind of old! These are all true things that I have/am/do.
Enter Helen Fields’ article in Smithsonian Magazine (http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/what-is-so-good-about-growing-old-130839848/?no-ist) “What is so Good about Growing Old?”
Forget about senior moments. The great news is that researchers are discovering some surprising advantages of aging. Helen shares, “Even as certain mental skills decline with age—what was that guy’s name again?—scientists are finding the mind gets sharper at a number of vitally important abilities. In a University of Illinois study, older air traffic controllers excelled at their cognitively taxing jobs, despite some losses in short-term memory and visual spatial processing. How so? They were expert at navigating, juggling multiple aircraft simultaneously and avoiding collisions.”
Subjects in their 60s were better than younger ones at imagining different points of view, thinking of multiple resolutions and suggesting compromises. People also learn how to deal with social conflicts more effectively. For a 2010 study, researchers at the University of Michigan presented “Dear Abby” letters to 200 people and asked what advice they would give.
“It turns out that managing emotions is a skill in itself, one that takes many of us decades to master. For a study published this year, German researchers had people play a gambling game meant to induce regret. Unlike 20-somethings, those in their 60s didn’t agonize over losing, and they were less likely to try to redeem their loss by later taking big risks. These social skills may bring huge benefits. In 2010, researchers at Stony Brook University analyzed a telephone survey of hundreds of thousands of Americans and found that people over 50 were happier overall, with anger declining steadily from the 20s through the 70s and stress falling off a cliff in the 50s.”
Here at FieldGoals.US we take pride in our ability to analyze the 55+ market and advise our clients on the products and services they should be providing to address this ever growing (and emotionally stable!) group of consumers. Come along for the ride with us, would you? Growing up is not that bad! I got my coffee for 50 cents!