One of my heroes is a woman who requested help at my practice many years ago. She wanted to keep pace with her beach-boot-camp-group of 30–40-year-old women. She wanted to maximise strength and flexibility. She wanted to avoid injuries.
I asked, “Do you really need to do all those pushups, crunches, planks, squats, lunges, and beach running?” But she would have none of my condescension! She was in her mid-70s.
Like you, perhaps, I had learned that as we age, we inevitably decline. We put on weight. We ache. We get weaker. We lose balance. We go more slowly. Time wears us down. Our systems relentlessly unravel, adding one indignity to the next, until we find ourselves ‘old’.
Somewhere along that path we hear friends and health professionals say the words ‘at your age…’.
‘Act your age’ and ‘at your age’ are almost the same thing. They both assume how we are expected to behave. However, the letter C makes them different. One demands more of us; we should step up and take on greater responsibility – ‘Act your age!’ The other asks less of us, ‘At your age…’ condescendingly expects that we settle down and accept decline.
What piffle. I hope your hackles are up.
If you’ve passed 40 and your belly measures bigger than your bum, is that inevitable decline ‘at your age…?’
Or is it a sign of a disease process that needs diagnosis and treatment? Or is it a sign that you should act-at-your-age and modify your nutrition?
If you’ve noticed a few mis-steps or even tripped, do you need a walking stick ‘at your age?’ Is it a sign of a disease process that needs diagnosis and treatment? Or is it a sign that you should act-at-your-age and deliberately learn to develop your balance and increase your strength?
If lovemaking has become unreliable, humiliating perhaps, is there a magic pill to take ‘…at your age?’ Is this a canary in the coal mine of vascular disease that needs professional help? Or is it time to act-at- your-age to proactively recreate something wonderful.
If you ache where you used not to, ‘at your age’ should you reach for the anti- inflammatories?
Should you push back into your recliner and later stagger off to bed when you wake up? Or should you act-at-your-age, and get help to resolve the problems underlying the pain?
Acting-at-your-age is no fatalistic resignation to decline. It is refusing to be less. It’s an honest welcome to reality. And it celebrates your power to choose-and-act to change tomorrow, today.