The subdivision where I bought my home had been a 55+ community. My neighbors were wonderful. The yards were clean and ornate. People drove at an easy pace with respect for one another. I was one of the first people under 55 to buy a home there. My neighborhood was a serene place in the middle of a freshly bustling city. I spent time at the pool chatting with my neighbors. One neighbor in her 40s was renting a home down the street and a couple of ladies from the 55+ crowd liked to sit by the pool and chat about life in the evening.
At first, I had no idea how old she was. I was aghast at how full of life she was. Her toenails were painted, her hair was well done, and she wore shorts. She was about 74, but she might as well have been 24. We chatted about life and there was nothing unnatural about connecting with a new friend who happened to be in her 70s. She was living. She was a yoga instructor at the local gym.
I did ask her how old she was, because I was in a state of wonder.
“Who you are doesn’t change” she said.
I was in total shock.
My grandmother, a couple of years younger than my neighbor, had had knee surgeries and relies on breathing treatments every day and it’s a miracle to get her out of bed in the morning. She would rather watch murder mysteries all night and play cards than chat at the pool with her neighbors. Here was my neighbor, living alone and independent, living the kind of life that I wanted in my 70s.
In 2016 the life expectancy in the United States was 78.69 years.
Most people I have chatted with see the age of 60 as a sort of cut off date for “old”. School children talk about how their 60s grandparents are on oxygen and that is normal because they are “old”. People don’t live out their full lives here.
How long do you want to live?
I made it a goal to start looking in my life as thought I am going to live (at least) 100 years.
Mediterranean diets don’t hurt.
Subtropical climates generally help.
I think, living a long life is something that a person has to want.
Where I live, people in the generations before give up. An air of defeat lives here. The words “it’s just the way it is” echo day in and day out. Caring for oneself is less than fashionable. Martyrdom for the cause, that is popular. Harry might have high blood pressure, but he ignores it because that might cause an extra expense for the family. Yoga? Well that is for those city hippie types. “Health food” is for rabbits. Meat and potatoes diets forced by toxic masculinity make men vulnerable to ill health. Men and women alike view healthcare as something that self-important people and rich city folk take part in. Ill health is a badge, something that means you worked hard and earned your life. An under-the-breathe-cough-laugh rewards health conscious talk. You think you are so special.
Life after 55 is life.
Growing up rural, older adult life has always brought me fear. I don’t want to feel as though I am approaching an end date. I want to live for my whole life. I am not interested in retiring and disintegrating. I am interested in choosing a life that I want to life for 100 years. I am interested in building something that makes me feel that life should never end.