How Much Fun Is Growing Old?

We’re all getting old, there’s no cure for it and no dietary supplement, despite what many start-ups would have us believe. But in my opinion, neither age nor youth is a merit. It is the life cycle that God, the universe or whoever has predetermined for us. If anything, I can attribute a certain amount of merit to the younger generation if they survive these turbulent, frustrating and sometimes overwhelming times unscathed and make something of themselves despite all the adversity.

I can’t understand this cult that is now being made around the age of women – that’s right, it’s only about women, not men. It really gets on my nerves. The female age is celebrated in “New Beauty” podcasts. They write about the beauty of age. At “Turn Around Age” conferences, experts discuss how to postpone ageing.

Books are titled “Age is becoming curable” as if it were a disease. Designers let older models present their collections on the international catwalks to great press attention. There’s nothing wrong with that. But why can’t we accept this as normal? Is it such a miracle that women over 50/60 can still walk in a straight line?

Growing old, but presentable please

We Germans tend to see everything as either black or white. In the past, youth was exalted, today it’s age. Young, slim and successful – and mostly blonde – were the women I was shown as role models in my youth. What is so different today when women in best ager communities meet regularly to exchange ideas? The older, fitter and more attractive the participants, the better. After all, you want to present yourself well on social media channels.

Here, too, you won’t find average women who are perhaps not so “well preserved”, have a few extra kilos and have not set up a successful business after children and often husbands have left home. The model women talk live and online about their successes and achievements in old age, about beauty secrets and perhaps also about their private lives. But what ageing actually does to you is left out.

Ageism instead of youthism

But is old age really the new youth? I very much doubt it. Because as my mother used to say, “getting old is not for cowards”. I was 40 at the time and couldn’t understand what exactly she meant by that. I now know. I’m now one of the best agers myself. I’m fit, I’ve been lucky with my genes and I can still do the headstand in yoga. And yet I don’t want to rejoice that I’m getting older. It’s simply a stage of life that you have to come to terms with and make the best of.

And if you’re honest, you have to admit that your physical strength is waning in many situations. New aches and pains are constantly cropping up, which I personally try to ignore for as long as possible. Visits to the doctor are becoming more frequent, which I hate and – I have to admit – often laughed at when I was younger and older. Genetic defects are now coming into play. In my case, it’s my hips due to congenital dysplasia.

Tired in the morning without a party

Sometimes I wake up in the morning so tired from a party the night before that I didn’t even go to. If I pack too much into a day, I feel overwhelmed. In the past, my workload couldn’t be full enough. Friends also become fewer with age, which is even scientifically proven, as I recently wrote in an article about “friend loss” on cultureandcream. And yet the loss is sometimes painful.

The physical changes are also not without their consequences. My skin and vaginal mucous membranes become drier, as do my nails. I notice it particularly on my feet. I have to make sure I drink enough water every day, which I find increasingly difficult. Despite applying cream in the morning and evening, the skin on my body is so dry that it starts to itch during the day. When I write, I now sometimes have pain in the metacarpophalangeal joints of my fingers. Harbingers of osteoarthritis?

High Heels, goodbye!

The ratio of fat to muscle mass has also changed, naturally in favor of the fat content. How could it be otherwise! If you want to keep your figure, you have to reduce your diet by a third at the start of the menopause and do more sport than you used to – and this has to be adapted to your state of health. I have banned all the high heels that I used to love wearing 24/7 from my wardrobe, crying because I can no longer walk on them for more than 15 minutes. Kitten heels are now my dizzying heights.

You also sleep less well. For me, this started during the menopause. After several nights with only a few hours of sleep – zero deep sleep phases – I hardly recognize myself in the mirror in the morning. The following night, I take half a sleeping pill to at least wake up feeling rested again.

I used to be able to party all night long without feeling tired or losing my vision the next morning. A famous sleep researcher I interviewed not so long ago told me that he felt the same way. He would wake up every night between 3 and 4 am and then get up and listen to classical music until he was tired enough to go back to bed. Perhaps also a solution.

Honesty would help

Why don’t women talk honestly about what it’s really like to get older and help each other? It can’t be that only the artificial image of older superwomen is ever discussed. I’m sure they also rub their aching feet in the evening and curse their hallux. They just don’t admit it.

I just find it annoying that we immediately turn everything into a trend. Youth, age, diversity. A German PR agency recently pitched a new client to journalists with the message “menopause is a trend”. What nonsense. Menopause is a fact that all women experience and not a trend. Because trends are fleeting and future generations will still have to deal with the menopause.

aging, growing old

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