I Am An Old Lady
Am I Acting Like One?
About a year ago, I wrote the article, Don’t Call Me an Old Lady. Today, I want to add “then don’t act like one.” What?????
It’s true, I am 84 years old, but I don’t want someone to assume that I need help crossing the street or going to a restroom - just because of my age.
True, I’m not as quick as I used to be. I get turned around and forget what I’m doing at times. On the other hand, I can walk 5 miles, use an iPad, iPhone, and Mac, and manage most household chores.
Some 84-year-olds need others to care for them. Other don’t, but if someone does it for them - even out of thoughtfulness - they can lose their confidence and ability to do so.
I firmly believe the old saying
My family and I have a deal, I do my best at something - say fixing a computer problem and if I haven’t figured it out - then they will help me. But the help is always in the form of me learning how.
But I have to look at myself, too. Am I acting as if I need help and can’t handle things? What message am I giving about my capabilities?
Two stories come to mind.
I worked at a police department. A nearby department had a case that involved a serial rapist. His victims were female students at a local university. The department assigned a female officer as a decoy to catch the offender, but he ignored her.
Police caught him, and during the interrogation, they asked him why he didn’t attack her - she looked like the victims. He responded with phrases like, “she was too aware,” “looked around,” and “knew what was going on.”
I took a self-defense class many years ago - to this day, I watch, notice if someone is too close, and listen. Dan almost paid the price. I was walking to the train station after a meeting in downtown San Francisco. Not a safe neighborhood at the time.
He also worked in San Francisco and knew about the appointment, so he decided to give me a ride home. I felt his presence walking up behind me. Every muscle in my body tensed as I prepared to defend myself with my newly acquired skills - fortunately, I looked first.
So, even though I’m older, I know to provide a message of capability with my presence. I am conscientious about avoiding scams, phishing, and hacking, but I learned the hard way. In many ways, I am giving the right message.
My “old lady” message comes through when I ask others to solve a problem for me without attempting to figure it out first or relying on “their opinion” rather than listening to my sense of the situation, and doing my research.
I think about Dan’s hospital stay. I strongly felt that the medication they gave him was too much for someone who took none, but I said nothing. He said, “Take me to the emergency room,” and I did. The staff in the emergency room said, “Take him to the hospital,” and I did. Doctors said, “He has to have surgery,” and I asked when.
I never questioned, gave additional information, or advocated for him as I would today.
So, I can say don’t treat me like an old lady, but I also have to say, “Janice, don’t act like one.” It’s part of aging well.
The Politics of Ageism - Chronological age should not matter. It’s more about competence and clear thinking.
Why You Need a Life Journey - Something to consider.
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