There are many cultures in which the aged are revered.
This isn’t one of them.
The only television ads with older people involve has-been celebrities hawking laxatives, hearing aids, and a place to dump your mother. An NFL quarterback over the age of 40 is not considered an athlete but a relic.
How can I be a cool older person?
Let’s get the health stuff out of the way first. Health care delivery is moving more toward a “system” approach rather than an individual provider/patient model. It may be that the entity most familiar with you in the exam room is the computer.
This means that you are more responsible for your blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, weight, and all those other mundane things that determine whether you hike the Grand Canyon or blow your brain to bits with a stroke. Your health is no longer outsourced—it is on you. Messed up older people struggle to be cool.
Find a class or gym or something that stresses balance and flexibility. Your children/grandchildren are much more likely to invite you on a trip/cruise/Disney World if you can hop on and off things. Poor balance equals busted hip equals loss of freedom. Lose the blubber—it makes everything harder.
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Do not talk about your health except in a very limited way with someone who absolutely needs to know, and even then, keep it short. The most intense, near death experience of your life is of almost no interest to anyone else.
Do not self-label. Remove all reference to age from your lexicon. Phrases such as “in my day”, “that time has passed”, “that’s for young people” must go. Frankly, being perceived as old can translate to irrelevant. “Your time” is now.
Don’t be tech averse. Learn the computer, learn the smart phone, learn Face Time, learn online everything. It’s not that hard, and you don’t want to give anyone an excuse to leave you off a list.
My mother, an expert on being a cool older person, would always study the interests of her children and grandchildren. Rather than discuss her doctor visits, she could converse about the Broncos receivers, the stock market, a Netflix series, and ocean-going trawlers. Being intentionally positive and low maintenance are skills that must be learned, and practiced, before you need them.
If you are serving others, rather than being served, you aren’t old. Service, in a community of others, is the most potent weapon against dementia, depression, and isolation.
Not everyone is age prejudiced. As my son says “I like old people. They have money and are likely to die soon.”
Sorry, junior, but I am going to spend all of it, in the coolest way possible.