Story by Jody Sanderson

Spring 2022

Getting old…

I was an outspoken crusader for Boomers when 50 became the new 30. And when the Boomers morphed into Zoomers, I declared with alacrity that 60 was the new 40. However, five years later, I can unequivocally claim that 65 is definitely not the new 45.

One of the first proofs of this was calling a colleague about getting this assignment. She couldn’t talk because she was preparing for a doctor’s appointment. I suggested a coffee on a different date. That wouldn’t work because she had to take her husband to the hearing aid clinic. I sent her an email.

A conversation with any person at this life stage invariably begins with a shared list of ailments, and all the appointments required to fix everything from hammer toes to cataracts. We’ve got ‘em all! Some are more serious than others, that’s true. And nothing to laugh at. But at our age, laughing has become one of our dearest allies on this newish journey.

My uncle, who was 81 in February, is still pretty spry, playing hockey in the winter, baseball in the summer. He says half his friends get miffed if he mocks his own aches and pains. “Oh, that’s just making fun of old people,” they say. He says being old is funny, and the best time to laugh at oneself. I would heartily agree.

Speaking of spry, former editor in chief of Chatelaine magazine, Rona Maynard, shares her amazing and humorous insight and gave me permission to quote her relationship with the word spry. She begins: “Spry was for the doddering old dears we’d never be.” And concludes with: “I’ve got spry cred. Some people push their limits at the gym to look sharp in tights, others to hike the Camino or train for a triathlon. I follow a program in order to sit in my chair, sleep on my bed and walk my dog with minimal pain.” Love it.

So we have hardening arteries, muscle loss, decreased bone density, hearing challenges, eye issues, blood pressure irregularities … and forgetfulness. That’s a story for another day!

But there’s cool stuff too.

A recent study published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B tracked what happened as 50 grandmothers in MRIs looked at pictures of their kids and grandkids. The women exhibited emotional empathy with their grandkids and cognitive empathy for their kids. Which to me means they need us around. A lot! And that’s a good thing about, well, being old!