Diana Walters: A Boomer's Ruminations - Too Old To ______?

  • Wednesday, June 19, 2024
  • Diana Walters
Diana Walters
Diana Walters
I’ve been wondering…when do we begin putting limits on ourselves? People often get to an age when they say they can’t do something because they are 60 or 70 or 90 years old. Several of my friends only drive within a few miles of home, fearful of heavy traffic, cities or mountain driving. Others frequently use the phrase, “I’m too old to _____.” 
  
I understand being nervous about doing something. I had a phobia of driving on highways until I was in my 50s. I’d drive the back roads everywhere I went, even though it took twice as long as the Interstate.
I had to overcome my phobia when we moved 300 miles away from family and friends—I was forced to face my fear or not see my grandbabies. 
  
But I’m wondering, at what age do we begin to limit what we do because of age? When will I begin to feel as if my age is a barrier to doing what I want to do? 
  
There are things I no longer desire to do, of course; like going to Riverbend Festival. Rich and I went every summer for years and found several venues we enjoyed, but now it’s not worth the effort to fight the crowds when we don’t like most of the music. However, if there was an oldies night (by “oldies” I mean music from the '50s, '60s, and early '70s,), I would attend. 
  
Maybe it’s not cowardice; maybe it’s merely motivation that changes. We simply don’t want to do the same activities we felt compelled to do in our younger years. It applies to our work life too. In our 30s, 40s, and 50s most of us wanted to climb a ladder, get promoted and earn more money; prove ourselves. I felt that way for a while. By the time I retired, though, I simply wanted to enjoy my work and make a difference. It’s probably just as well the new manager laid me off last fall—I didn’t like being micro-managed and didn’t feel the need to prove myself to anyone. 
  
Back to the question: At what age do we begin putting limits on our activities? I have sometimes mentally criticized people who quit doing something merely because they’re “too old.” That’s because I believe that an activity may need to be modified because of a physical issue, but we can still do most things we want to do—if we want it badly enough. 
  
Grandma Moses didn’t start painting until she was 76. At age 90, Sister Madonna Buder became a triathlete. Giuseppe Paterno graduated college at age 97. And Natalie Levant became a comedian when she was 89 years old. 
  
I don’t have any interest in doing those things (I was in my 60s when I completed a PhD.) However, I think I could do whatever I wanted to do if I had the incentive—and the talent. 
  
I’m convinced seniors can continue to learn and grow. But it’s our prerogative to decide how, and if, we want to grow, (keep in mind, though, that physical activity and learning new things helps protect us from cognitive decline.) 
  
My suggestion to boomers: Quit blaming what you no longer do on your age. It’s not our age that limits us, it’s our desire and motivation—and maybe talent. 
  
Instead of saying you are too old to do something, try saying, “I don’t want to do that anymore,” or “I outgrew that,” or “that isn’t fun for me,” or “my talent/interest lies in other areas.” 
  
But when you do decide to try something new, have fun and don’t be embarrassed if you fail. A bonus of being a senior: People will consider us valiant just for trying. 
  
Then we will become an example to seniors who say “I’m too old.” 
  
* * *

Diana Walters has enjoyed a long career working with senior adults as social worker, activity director, and volunteer coordinator. She recently retired (at age 76) from paid employment and is now able to devote more time to her writing and her husband (in that order?) She has written devotionals for The Quiet Hour and Upper Room and been published in six Chicken Soup for the Soul books, but she is excited to be writing for and about her fellow Baby Boomers. She can be reached at dianalwalters@comcast.net.
Happenings
Chattanooga Horse Photographer Elected To PPA Council
Chattanooga Horse Photographer Elected To PPA Council
  • 7/24/2024

The Professional Photographers of America announces the election of Betsy Bird, Cr. Photog., CPP, of Ride the Sky Equine Photography, to the PPA Council. Officials said, "Betsy, an award-winning ... more

Did You Know? Sycophant
Did You Know? Sycophant
  • 7/24/2024

In keeping with the tradition of defining words that politicians (mostly) and disgruntled citizens use but do not normally explain its meaning this dictionary search is made for the benefit of ... more

2 New Art Exhibits Opening In Dalton On Aug. 2
2 New Art Exhibits Opening In Dalton On Aug. 2
  • 7/24/2024

The public is invited to a Gallery Opening and Artist Reception and the Annual Festival Kick-Off Party at the Creative Arts Guild, 520 W Waugh St. in Dalton, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. ... more