Bob Dylan did a song on his Time Out of Mind album called “Not Dark Yet.” If my fellow Baby Boomers were to write a song about themselves, they might title it “Not Old Yet (Dammit).”
I read an article the other day (once I finally located my reading glasses) about a recent poll that suggests that most of my Boomer cohort don’t consider themselves old. In their eyes, we may not be exactly young, but at the very worst we’re middle aged. Of course, the eyes are the first to go.
The results of the Associated Press-LifeGoesStrong.com poll beg the question, “What is old?” Younger adults – those younger than Boomers – call 60 the start of old age. But Boomers are pushing that number back. The median age cited by those polled is 70. And a quarter of them insist you’re not old until you’re 80.
For men, there’s this little indicator: middle age is the first time you can’t do it the second time; old age is the second time you can’t do it the first time.
The poll showed that, overall, we Boomers are upbeat about our futures. We’re more likely to be excited about the positive aspects of aging, such as retirement, than worried about the negatives, like illness, death, and having sex with people who are just as old as us.
Sixteen percent of respondents reported being happy about aging. Speaking for myself, I’m happy as a clam to be aging. As a wise man once said, getting old may suck but it beats the hell out of the alternative.
Despite being generally upbeat about getting older, some Boomers are still taking steps to look younger. Some dye their hair, while others take up an exercise regimen. For me, this first option is too expensive, and the second is too much work. So I’ve taken the cheap and lazy option – I just hang around with Keith Richards as much as possible. Compared to him I look like Justin Beiber.
Another surprise: about half predict a better quality of life for themselves than their parents experienced. Add me to this group; my life is a hell of a lot better than my folks’ – largely because I didn’t have to raise a kid like me.
Of course, the outlook isn’t all rosy, and Boomers do have some serious worries. The top three mentioned included losing their independence, losing their memory, and … uh … well, it’ll come to me.
A quarter of the women polled had paid more than $25 for an anti-aging skincare product, such as a lotion or night cream, while just 5 percent of the men admit to such purchases. I’ve never spent a penny on anti-aging measures, but I will admit to pulling my ponytail back really, really tight in hopes of ironing out my facial wrinkles. I gave it up when I realized it didn’t make me look younger – it just made me look like Steven Segal with gas pains.
Boomers most frequently offered the wisdom accumulated over their lives as the best thing about aging. Sure, that’s great, but for me the real joy comes from finally being able to say, “Why, when I was your age … . “